What can I do with a glut of broad beans? | Kitchen aide

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

If your green fingers have been busy during lockdown, you may well now have a sackful more broad beans than you bargained for. Here are some creative, storable, freezable ideas to deal with the glut

• Do you have a culinary dilemma? Email feast@theguardian.com

This is my first year growing broad beans, and I’ve got so many. Any ideas what I can do with them?
Liz, Northamptonshire

Nothing says summer quite like the unzipping of those fluffy jackets, so this is a nice problem to have, Liz. The good news is that, whatever their age, broad beans always have a use. Chef Henrietta Inman, who cooks and bakes using only natural, locally-sourced ingredients, eats the young pods whole, raw with butter and salt (you could add chopped mint, too), with bagna cauda or a pulse-based dip. That doesn’t automatically mean chickpeas, though: “There are so many other interesting beans and pulses growing in the UK,” she says. Her favourites come from Hodmedods, pioneer of UK-grown pulses, from quinoa to carlin peas, which she soaks, cooks and blends with herbs and olive or rapeseed oil. Cooked broads are reserved for tossing through salads and pasta, or for serving with grilled lamb. Simple, yes, but, as Inman points out, “You don’t want to do too much to them, because they’re tasty as they are.”

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How to be an evolutionary gardener | James Wong

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Creating a pleasing garden is a matter of following your instincts

I’ve been forever fascinated not just by the natural beauty of plants, but by how arranging them can have a profound effect on the overall aesthetics and, by extension, how they make us feel. As an ethnobotanist, I am obsessed by the evolutionary theories that have attempted to explain what appear to be universal rules underpinning garden design. Once you understand the underlying instincts, becoming a better garden designer is suddenly far more straightforward.

We talk about gardens as natural spaces, but they’re the exact opposite: human-made environments engineered using natural ingredients. If they were truly “natural”, we could leave the ecosystem to take its course, letting our plots revert to a wild state – twisted brambles, boggy puddles and all. Ironically, the second we do that these plots stop being real “gardens”. For when you set out to try and define the word “garden”, management is one of the defining features they all have in common.

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The sowing never seems to stop | Allan Jenkins

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Although the summer harvest has started, July might be your final chance to plant crops for autumn

July. The first loss of light – an hour a day by the month’s end. Time for high summer harvest and watering. Time for some urgency amid the satisfaction. Time to plan for winter.

Our autumn arrived in the post. Rosa chicories, red and white treviso, puntarelle, and more chervil and parsley to be sown in paper strips and also scattered. A last rush of rocket.

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Gardening tips: donate seeds to refugee gardeners

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Be creative about watering your garden and plant Mexican giant hyssop

Donate this If you have spare packets of flower and vegetable seeds, why not send them to another gardener? The Lemon Tree Trust’s Gardener to Gardener appeal is providing refugee gardeners with seeds, in the camps of Kurdistan. Visit lemontreetrust.org to find out how to donate.

Tap this Be creative about saving water in the garden. Grey water from the washing-up bowl, bath or washing machine is fine to use on ornamentals; just don’t leave it sitting around before use. Focus on the plants that need water the most: newly planted shrubs and trees, not established lawns.

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How to grow Mexican fleabane | Alys Fowler

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

These daisy-like flowers will happily self-seed to bring beautiful disorder

The delicate, daisy-like flowers of Mexican fleabane, Erigeron karvinskianus, need little introduction. It’s the plant of walls and pavement cracks that, if happy, will seed itself effortlessly into improbably small spots. The first time I became aware of it was when I had to mow the ridiculously perfect strips of lawn that sit either side of Wisley’s formal pond – a task I was always going to fail, because I am not the sort to make straight lines. I wasn’t doing badly at the start, but veered off wildly when I saw this little daisy spilling out down the steps: after all the restrained formality of rectangles, planes and lines, here was a wild thing cascading with gay abandon.

Related: How to grow cucurbits: pumpkins, courgettes and cucumbers | Alys Fowler

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Paint, plant or pack them: how to use plastic takeaway containers outside the kitchen

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

From organising desk drawers to transporting beauty products, the leftover containers can be reused all around the home

When restaurant dining rooms closed during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, takeaway took off. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP) plastics used in food and drink containers are recyclable, but we know that reducing and reusing is a far better policy. Most plastics can be recycled only once or twice to make a new product before they eventually end up in landfill.

Maybe you kept a few to store food, but here are some ways to reuse disposable containers outside the kitchen.

Related: Only a third of Australia's plastic packaging waste gets recycled

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To grow the tastiest herbs, treat ’em mean

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Be lazy, water and feed far less, they will thank you for it

When it comes to growing your own, it’s hard to find a better bang for your buck than with herbs. Not only are they gram-for-gram the most expensive crops in the fruit and veg aisle, but in most cases they are also hands down the easiest to grow. And, for a range of solid, scientific reasons, they will have measurably stronger flavour than almost anything you can buy in the supermarket. So here are a botanist’s simple tricks to grow herbs for truly unbuyable flavour.

To improve the flavour in herbs, you have to understand why the plants produce it in the first place

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Summer’s high point in the garden | Allan Jenkins

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Bees are drunk on pollen, flowers are in full bloom, and veg are ready to harvest – it’s time to reap the rewards of all your work

More than halfway through the year. The sun soon dipping, just off its high. It is hard at first to see it in the glory of the growth.

These are the perfect garden days. Everything exultant; here in its summer splendour. All the work – the digging, the sowing, the hoeing, the weeding, the feeding – paid off.

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How to grow linarias | Alys Fowler

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

These lofty spires of tiny flowers stand tall in the sunniest, driest spots

Purple toadflax came uninvited to my allotment, as it is wont to do, and got to stay because the bees were so pleased. Linaria purpurea is not native – it hails from Italy. It is, however, widely naturalised and a fan of railway edges, stone walls, concrete cracks and other dry, free-draining spots from which it manages to create lofty spires of tiny purple flowers that look like snapdragons.

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I've decided what to do with the rest of my life: grow a lemon tree

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

My first attempt at nurturing one from seed looked promising, but ultimately failed. Armed with expert advice – and hopefully enough years – I’m trying again

You know you’re getting on a bit when you find yourself paying attention to Gardeners’ Question Time on Radio 4. I’ve been dimly aware of it for ever, but never actually listened properly, other than to gently scorn the twee Britishness of it. And, of course, to wonder at the name of one panellist: Bob Flowerdew.

I’ve turned the corner from fond mockery to rapt attention in a surprisingly short amount of time – a matter of minutes. It happened on a Sunday last month when I had left the radio on by mistake. Someone had written in with a question about what might grow well in a pot on a terrace facing north-west. At this, my ears pricked up like a pair of bamboo shoots. Hang on a minute, I thought, I’ve got a terrace on which some azaleas are thriving. Before I knew it, I was out there with a compass. And, yes, it turns out it is indeed a north-west facing terrace.

Related: Zest for life: citrus plants to grow at home

Adrian Chiles is a Guardian columnist

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Refreshing the rooftop roses | Allan Jenkins

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Fragrant flowers on the terrace keep the air sweet and scented

I have re-homed some roses. I never keep records so cannot say what they are, beyond one was bought at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago: deep-pinked orange, deeply fragrant; the other’s a lemony English shrub rose, name unknown but classic David Austin.

They had outgrown their pots and were showing small signs of fatigue. So both are now homed in Kala’s border garden where they will have more room to expand.

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Weeding out horticulture’s race problem

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Even in the garden, there’s bigotry to be found

One of the things I love most about gardening is its ability to cut through social divisions. Tapping into the universal human desire to nurture, as well as our instinctive fascination with the natural world, gardening has the unique ability to transcend gender, class, race, sexuality and political persuasions.

So, it may come as a surprise to many people how much of a systemic problem racism is within the seemingly friendly, mild-mannered world of UK horticulture. When one of my best mates recently asked me if I had ever experienced it in our industry, we were both genuinely shocked at each other’s reactions. He to know how frequently it happens to me, and me to discover he had absolutely no idea that this wasn’t something that was wholly confined to the 1970s. But his reaction was totally understandable: it’s not something I enjoy talking about, to be honest. It is not fun, in fact I find it both uncomfortable and tedious to relive, as I imagine it is for those listening to me doing it. However, it is important. We do not make the world a better place by ignoring problems, but by talking about them.

An industry big wig at Chelsea Flower Show told me I looked like like Kim Jong-un and did the Gangnam Style dance

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Look up from the garden and enjoy summer | Allan Jenkins

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

It’s not only about sowing and weeding – from sky to pond, life is bursting forth

Lockdown days mostly start (very) early at the allotment. A walk up the hill, sometimes with Howard and Rose. Usually, though, I am on my own. Just me and the wild things.

It has always been quiet here on the crest of the heath but never more than now. The young, handsome fox stands in my way on the path. Alert, mostly unperturbed. As a gesture I will sometimes take a step back. Its ears will flatten happily until it gets bored and slinks away.

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From going grey to hand washing: 12 lockdown habits we're going to keep

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Life in lockdown has been an exercise in patience, but for some, there have been rewards worth bringing into their ‘new normals’

In Australia social gatherings are back on the agenda, intrastate travel is permissible; playgrounds have reopened, and so have restaurants.

At the beginning of lockdown, we were told Shakespeare wrote King Lear while sheltering from a plague; we were told we would eat, and eat again; and we were told – many times – that life indoors would give us time to reflect.

While isolation has not been positive or pleasant for many, it has led to some new discoveries, and rediscoveries. Here, writers share the lockdown habits they intend to keep.

Related: Stayin’ alive! How music has fought pandemics for 2,700 years

Related: Coronavirus collabs: the social media games entertaining the masses – and bringing us together

Related: 'I designed myself a syllabus of quarantine goals – then spent weeks eating cereal in bed'

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Doorstep delights: why front gardens matter

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

A place to socialise, an oasis for wildlife, a gift to our neighbours – a front garden can be all of these things. Isn’t it about time we showed them some love,asks Clare Coulson

Last month, with more time at home than usual, Charlotte Harris, one half of the landscape design duo Harris Bugg, decided to dig up her paved front garden in Newham, east London. “It was a discussion we’d been having for a while,” says Harris, who gardens with her girlfriend Catriona Knox. They’d already removed the paving from the back garden of their house, which is in a densely populated area of the city undergoing vast amounts of regeneration. “Around here every bit of green space feels precious,” she says. “Obviously there are parks, but I think each of us has to take responsibility for any space we have.”

As you’d expect in a city, the new front garden needs to work hard to accommodate bins, bikes and a composting hot bin, but Harris is determined to plant as much as possible in the rest of the space, including a small tree (on the shortlist are a Sichuan pepper tree, hawthorn or a Chinese fringe tree) underplanted with perennials and bulbs.

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Time to sow and soak in the glory of gardens

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

June is a busy month – a last chance to sow, and don’t neglect weeding and watering

June: month of gardening glory; of happy, heavenly growing. We are a week now into official summer with – hopefully – all threat of frost gone until towards the end of September. Gardeners know this is also the watershed time: a last chance to sow summer beetroot, autumn carrots and chicories. Even winter brassicas.

The good news is that everything can go into ground, including more delicate warm-weather crops, such as sweet corn, squash, courgettes, tomatoes, beans, aubergines, peppers, outdoor cucumbers.

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Indoor gardening? Just add flowers

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Those of us with no garden can still learn from traditional outdoor techniques

It’s fascinating that in recent years the cultures of indoor and outdoor gardening have evolved along different lines, not just in terms of aesthetics, but in horticultural practice, too. As a new generation gets into gardening, inspired by recreating the indoor paradises on Instagram, many traditions of outdoor gardening are being bypassed – leading to a sort of parallel horticulture. This diversity is all part of the fun, but there are approaches one side can learn from the other – and two big tips indoor growers can pick up from outdoor ones.

One of the biggest trends you see on social media is collections of dozens of plants all in individual pots, shot against the obligatory white industrial wall. I can only imagine this is because indoor plant collections tend to start with a cautious one or two specimens, and quickly spin out of control when the horticultural bug bites. But there are downsides to this. Small pots have a larger surface area to volume ratio, so they dry out far more quickly. This means loads more watering effort, and a far higher risk of plant failure. Then there’s the nightmare of dusting and cleaning in the nooks and crannies between containers and, let’s face it, the cost of all those individual pots can add up.

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The great outdoors… top tips for alfresco living

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Here’s how to make the most of your outside space this summer

With space in our homes at a premium, even the tiniest outdoor plot provides solace. We’ve never needed nature’s salve more. So, for anyone lucky enough to have a garden, now’s the time to treat your backyard with the same decorative care as your front room. We asked five decorators and designers to share their tricks for creating the ultimate outdoor retreat, from furniture to table settings.

If you do it well, a garden is an escape into another little world

We so rarely have amazing weather, it makes sense to think about pieces to pull into the garden from your sitting room

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Gardening tips: read up on how to bring nature into your home

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Then plant honeywort and sow seeds with anti-slug protection

Read this Biophilia: You + Nature + Home (Kyle Books, £14.99) will strike a chord for anyone stuck indoors right now. Designer Sally Coulthard shows you how to lift your mood by bringing plants, flowers and other aspects of nature into the home.

Plant this The sound of a bee fossicking about in the bell-like flowers of honeywort (Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’) is one of the most delightful of early summer. This hardy annual will seed itself about in full sun and come back every year with no effort from you. It’s a bit late for seed sowing, but give it a go if you can get hold of some (try Chiltern Seeds) or buy as plug plants.

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Easy-peasy veg that keeps giving all summer long | Alys Fowler

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Swiss chard, Japanese bunching onions, rocket and mangetout will feed you come rain, shine or slugs

As summer unfurls and the price of fresh food is likely to hike – due to the lack of pickers – it makes sense, and brings much joy, to turn to your garden or balcony or rooftop and say, “What can we do here?” If I can offer any gentle advice to those starting out, it is to choose vegetables that let you harvest all summer long (rather than waiting until the end of July for the first ripe tomato or early September for sweetcorn); that are edible at all stages, so nothing goes to waste; that don’t mind a wet August, can shrug off slug attacks and aren’t desperate for high fertility. Meet the gang that will feed you whatever the summer brings.

Humble, reliable swiss chard can withstand maltreatment, drought, neglect and even slugs to give you abundant glossy green leaves. Sow now, and again in August, and you’ll have plants for winter and a spring supply, too. Sow direct or in modules, spacing 35cm (14in) apart each way, so they can grow deep roots to mine the nutrients below. You need four or five plants for a family of four. My favourites are Fordhook Giant for monster leaves, Pink Passion for neon-coloured stems and Golden Chard to catch the long, slanting late summer light.

Related: How to grow foxgloves | Alys Fowler

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