July 28th 2022


Since I last checked in my terrace jungle has blessed me with more than enough produce than I need on a daily basis. Despite the chemtrails it seems that my lovely jungle is thriving. I would highly recommend that people grow their own fruit and veg on their terraces if land isn’t available to them in the form of an allotment or a friends garden.

Lemon cucumbers

I have shared with neighbours and even after eating greedily and still was able to freeze three portions of beans yesterday! I also have frozen some squash as I did earlier this year with some of my brothers crop.

I’ve been eating salad of herbs, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and nasturtium every day and have had various combos of calaloo, squash, beans and potatoes for my veg with my dindins!

In its hammock

I have to confess that the naughty squash do like to grow outside the railings so I had to invent and make some string hammocks for them except for one big boy that grew between the railings just to make my life more complicated!

Monster squash, black and green beans , tomatoes, lemon and gherkin cucumbers

I had a drama getting it in as it weighed 2.9 kg. I sweated and swore as I perilously cut it with one hand and with the other wiggled it out from the railings, then lifted it over while tangled up with all the vines. They are quite prickly too, so with my trembling arms I navigated it over to safety! It was worth doing as I was terrified it would fall off and kill someone walking innocently below! Dangerous beasts.

Homemade grana bread rolls with added seeds

I’ve also just started making my own bread. I’d forgotten it’s not a drama at all and so much more healthy and cheap. Take the bull by the horns girls and do it! The smell in the kitchen is amazing and it makes you feel all warm and safe. This goes side by side with making my own soap, body butter and tooth paste. You can escape all the nasty fluorides and chemicals that’s in the commercial crap. I’ll keep you posted on recipes and ingredients shortly but I have to run now!

Delicious spuds and calaloo with organic smoke salmon and butter

Alert: although this had been written in a rambling way you’ll have to excuse me! Much like this whole experience, it’s been penned as an ongoing experiment. Just how do you gather your thoughts when undertaking far too many things? I’m happy that my life is busy with things I am passionate about but it does lead to cutting corners. Anyhow, I’ll correct and add later in my very impatient old bird way. Publish and be damned!

My first lettuces cohabiting with my poor fig tree which now is a much happier specimen
See the happy fig tree in the jungle?

If you can’t get away but want to conjure up recipes with vegetables and herbs from distant parts of the world, get gardening and grow more exotic stuff than you can get locally. If you have access to a farmers market make sure the stall is organic at the least, biodynamic even better. The stuff I didn’t have time to grow this season might be available. There are weird and wonderful as well as things like stinging nettles that are extremely good for you.

While looking wistfully through James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution’ the other day, and seeing an article about growing potatoes on Mars, (yes you heard me right) I started to look at all the remarkable, lesser-known and easily grown, veggie stuff you could have ready this year to create an imaginary trip to another part of the planet in your garden and kitchen.

My little figgies

Now since originally writing this, I had to recognise I was running out of time to grow anything, let alone start with more exotic stuff and only managed to get non-GMO organic calaloo seeds on the go so I’ll just have to show you how I did on my small terrace in Soho with the more conventional fruit and veg.

Oh and I’ve just seen my black long beans are ready for a taster plate portion. There are loads but I have to have a nibble! Apparently, they grow to over a foot in length.

Black long beans are a beautiful-looking crop
My sorry little seeds under glass


Space is tight, and brushing off my gardening skills I began the good fight in May and have managed to get large unused planters from my neighbour, I started rehabilitating my sad-looking terrace. Boy, oh boy, that was a formidable job and made more challenging by being broke.

Sad looking start with even my fig tree pissed off

My nod to Peru was by getting a whole load of pink fir apple potatoes to plant in some nifty sacks that have a velcro ‘door’ on the sides to peek at your produce. I got that done straight away as I was already late with it, and had to go to a pet shop to procure some hay for mulch.

My spuds in the green bags with hay on top

I battled on with my pathetic bits until my brother gave me excellent advice about ‘starting off’ your seeds in an airing cupboard. I then went down to Sevenoaks to a great pub and did a swap of seedlings. With much-excited swapping of gossip and top tips and wine, he gave me some tubers of Jerusalem artichokes that he had in another bag. These were very special as they were from our dad’s stock that Mark had received from him many years ago. We solemnly reflected the flatulent tubers had now been passed on to another member of the family. Drunken, sentimental tears in our eyes we reflected the many years of farts these noble veg had given to friends and family. I would think it would put cows belching to shame in comparison.

Marshmallow strawberry

Anyhoo! This swapping and relearning of the nuances of growing fresh fruit and veg continued, and it’s been so lovely and therapeutic that it has added an extra layer of love to this venture.

The emptying of my neighbour’s troughs and moving them up to my terrace was a huge physical challenge but well worth it. It was done over the course of two days along with some Victorian chimney funnel bricks to raise them and make it less back-breaking than grovelling around on the floor. I also have used one of my kitchen benches to raise smaller pots.

Now, this is so completely alien to me as I learned about crop growing when I was still a child at our cottage on a farm. There I had access to wheelbarrows of horse poo straw and well, just the shit too, that dad and I would squabble about. Also, it was a lot of land, and the soil was already rich and established. We watered easily by hose or from the pond and had a ramshackle greenhouse with all sorts of bits and bobs one gathers over a long period of time. No such luck here, up to twenty watering cans a day up the stairs.

More lettuces and amaranth of a very purple variety

I started with nothing and I was not happy!!!!

I persevered however and things, as they do in life, got organised and I saw light at the end of my tiny terrace tunnel.

Yeah forget about that deckchair which collapsed

Once I got my lovingly donated lettuces, artichokes and tomatoes in I felt more encouraged and, waiting on every sack of compost very impatiently, I finally lovingly placed My non-GMO organic seedlings of squash, cucumbers and beans in the second trough. Everything was far too close together but I had decided to go jungle as I had so little space.

Last week dill, chilli plants and a fresh sowing of lettuce amaranth seeds went in to replace all the stuff I’ve eaten. I’m finally at one with it all despite having to carry up watering cans of water every day (I have a very thirsty crop and the smaller pots dry out very quickly) I have had two failures. Radishes which just don’t like me (I will try again with some black radishes soon) and my Swiss rainbow chard started well then got sulky and refused to grow more so that’s been taken out today and two leftover cucumbers have gone in.

The squash will take over the world!

My trees look happy again now they have company and my fig is growing a lot of fruit which I hope will thrive. I feel that I have mastered this type of cultivation as well as can be expected, and all my old knowledge has been refreshed and honed for what I hope will be a substantial piece of land abroad in the future.

With some art to cover the grey sides of the planters
Marshmallow strawberries are delicious.

Any tips would be gratefully received!