A couple of weeks ago I headed off early to Woodbridge with a group of friends to spend a day at The Grower on a ‘Grow and Cook For Summer’ course.
The Grower is a wonderful business run by the inspirational Belinda Gray from her beautiful, organic, productive walled kitchen garden complete with original victorian greenhouse and cold frames. Belinda provides a kitchen garden design service and she runs a fantastic range of courses based around growing fruit and vegetables. My friends and I have been making regular trips to Belinda’s courses for about four years now. We regard our trips as something of a pilgrimage as Belinda is just what you need to keep yourself inspired and motivated to grow your own. Her courses are full of practical advice on year round growing, successional sowing and avoiding the dreaded glut. She provides the best course notes I have come across to refer back to when you need a shot of inspiration.
This course was all about growing summer vegetables and using them in interesting ways in the kitchen. On arrival we looked at the basics of crop rotation and planning your plot, as well as taking a quick romp through organic pest control. Then it was out into the garden to really see how it is done.
A mid morning break for coffee or mint tea with delicious homemade flapjacks and cookies was a welcome treat.
After our break sitting in the sun class resumed and it was back to the garden to look at more vegetables.
Lunchtime came all too quickly, but provided the opportunity to get to know the other students better whilst enjoying Belinda’s delicious food from the garden and sampling some of the recipes we had been talking about.
After lunch we completed our tour around Belinda’s beautiful walled garden. Belinda explained what she was growing, ideas to use the produce and what plants would replace the current crops in July when her plot is replanted for autumn and winter cropping. We then took a walk through the old victorian greenhouse, which was full of tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and salad leaves.
A trip to Belinda’s small but well stocked shop was the final pleasure of the afternoon and resulted in one of Belinda’s beautiful silver trays (see the photo above with the morrocan tea cups), a handy basket for collecting vegetables from the garden and a few packets of seeds.
My next course seems a long time away – Belinda’s Christmas Inspirations day in November. My friends and I attend this every year – it is a great start to the festive season and always fills us with new ideas for food, decorations and flowers and the motivation to go home and “just get on with it”!
Please do check out Belinda’s website The Grower and if you get the chance make sure you book on one of her courses. Belinda also writes a very informative weekly blog which you can sign up to on the website.