Ain’t that the truth!
March 5, 2015, 9:30 am
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Growing your own food is like printing money


Bountiful autumn
September 19, 2013, 12:36 pm
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Bountiful autumn

Yellow cherry tomatoes – grown from seed


April 21, 2013, 9:19 pm
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August 8, 2011, 7:51 pm
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Root Verses by Isobel Dixon

Something fantastical is happening
to our weekly vegetables.
A deep organic mystery.
Take this peculiar Buddha root,
these conjoined tubers,
apostolic, luminous.

At first it was our ignorance
that had us both agape
at sprouting aliens, but Google,
Wikipedia, my fat Larousse,
enlightened us. See, here,
celeriac, kumquat, jackfruit,

chard, tamarillo, salsify –
we learned to welcome strangers
to our house. The whole green world
was subject to my knife,
till more burgeoned from the box
than I could chop.

This wasn’t what we signed up for:
our direct debit, like the widow’s jar
of oil, a source of never-ending
anti-oxidants. I waited,
but could never catch the van.
Piled offerings at our door –

neighbours complained – we took them in.
I’ve called the helpline
and the chap from – Delhi?
Mumbai? – answers me,
then puts me through to silence,
growing quiet down the phone.

I sit among the congregated squash,
the jungled cress, the mute
appeal of finger-shaped shallots.
Wish that the zinging in my ears would shush,
ponder the way of xylem and of phloem,
pray for the peace of photosynthesis.

Pick More Daisies
August 7, 2011, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Our Garden in North London | Tags: , , ,

With an almost one year old rampaging around, I am experiencing the garden in a very different way.

A one year old sniffing the sweetpeas with exaggerated “Hmmmmm….aaaaah”s of pleasure is adorable. A one year old hell bent on chewing bees and trampling on dried holly leaves is not.

Features such as our raised beds made of empty wine bottles and barrel pond no longer seem viable.

Raised beds made from bottles

The plus side is that I am seeing nature through her unjaded eyes. Every speck of dirt is worth grave consideration. Each tiny ladybird is regarded with awe. Birds – well – they’re greeted with shrieks of delight, obviously. And the wind moving through the apple tree is spellbinding.

Yes, she picks a lot of lovingly planted daisies. But like the poem* goes, if I had my life over, I would pick more daisies. She is just getting a head start.

Picking daisies

*When the late Nadine Stair of Louisville, Kentucky, was 85 years old, she was asked what she would do if she had her life to live over again.

“I’d make more mistakes next time,” she said. “I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been on this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds and I would pick more daisies.”

Beat poetry
September 9, 2009, 12:45 pm
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Look at the awesome beetroots that Mellors grew!


Tonight we shall feast on Borscht!

We did a clever time share in the vegetable patch – now that the beetroots are out the ground we have planted in leeks which have been waiting backstage in pots for their moment to be planted!


Please help! GardenAfrica is training communities in Sub Saharan Africa to plant sustainable vegetable gardens, enabling people to grow their own food, free from dependency and debt. Our vital vegetable patches are unfolding in homesteads, hospital gardens, the dry earth of school yards, feeding families and improved health and nutrition.

Because of our work, mums are planting crops and the precious food money saved can go towards school fees. Young men with compromised immune systems can eat fresh produce, giving anti retroviral drugs a chance. Children receive one healthy meal, boosting concentration – picked from their scorching school garden.


Where AIDS related illnesses have taken parents, grandmothers have many mouths to feed, or, increasingly, small children head households and provide for their younger siblings. There is a strong tradition of agriculture in Africa but drought, war and issues of land ownership have eroded some of this knowledge. We work with grandmothers who remember the old ways, helping ensure that their knowledge is passed on to the children now responsible for putting food on the table. GardenAfrica helps by providing seeds, tools and importantly, local trainers, so knowledge stays in the community and is not dependent on foreign volunteers.

The global recession has swiped GardenAfrica’s funding and yet our work has never been more important. We urgently need to continue funding these projects. We are not a large charity with global offices, we don’t have pay ourselves big bonuses. 90% of donations to GardenAfrica will be used directly in the field.

Please donate today or read our fundraising tips to see how you can raise money and help this vital charity continue.

GardenAfrica: You Dig In and We’ll Fork Out!