A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Gardening

I’ve had two more absolutely enormous courgettes from the garden since my last post.

I made a couple of courgette-based traybake things that weren’t glamorous enough to be photographed- but I do tend to put pics on my Instagram story (@craftycrusader) if you’re interested. I made a courgette stuffed with a sort of Middle Eastern turkey chilli and a kind of lasagne, where I used ricotta rather than making béchamel sauce.

Parts of the courgettes were also grated and frozen for future cakes. I was throwing some of the middle parts away, but I felt badly about that so I am now freezing them in anticipation of trying out this courgette jam recipe.

Something I did make that was as beautiful as it was tasty was this courgette waffle recipe. The waffles are pretty tasty. I get six waffles out of the amounts stated, and they are  around 95 calories each. Most of the calories are from the cheese. I’m planning to make a few and freeze them for future brunches.


In the past couple of weeks, my garden has started to produce a lot of courgettes. I got the seeds as part of a ‘funky veg’ kit and kind of just planted for the hell of it- I’m not the biggest fan of courgettes. However, I sense that my glut of yellow beauties may make me learn to love this humble vegetable. We’ll see how I do at the challenging task of not embarrassing myself with phallic references in this post. I am a follower of Freud, after all.

I turned my first fistful of small courgettes into a tasty salad. Adapted from this recipe.

I knew that my staff summer picnic would be a good excuse to use up some more courgettes. As you can see, these ones were much larger.

I made another salad for the party- this was actually my first time cooking and eating fennel. I selected a vegan recipe, but when the vegan in the team wasn’t at the picnic, I did add some cheeky feta. Cheese makes everything better.

I also made a courgette cake. Since I’ve blogged previously about chocolate courgette cake, I used this recipe as a jumping-off point.

The cake was lovely- light, moist and tasty. Would probably omit raisins next time. My favourite bit was the frosting, but then I am dangerously addicted to cream cheese frosting. I have a LOT more courgettes coming, so I need to stay ahead of the game with ways to use them.


So far, my garden seems to be doing pretty well. That’s in spite of some weird weather that included powerful wind and rain that killed some of my young plants. They currently seem to be enjoying the blazing sunshine.

I’ve planted out almost all of my seedlings. After being stressed that I didn’t pick the best tomatoes to plant out, they seem to be growing pretty well. I have several good seedlings left and I feel bad throwing them away, but I also don’t really have a use for them. Meant to email colleagues offering them but forgot.

My two physalis plants are looking pretty strong so far too.

I’ve had some strawberry drama. After discovering an aphid infestation soon after planting out, I sprayed the plants with some stuff I found in the cupboard, which actually killed one or two of them. I’ve also had some other seedlings die off. Maybe I waited too long to plant them out and the sun is too harsh on them? On the positive side, I was so happy to notice the first fruit growing!

My veg patch is coming on wonderfully too. I made a GIF showing the how it’s changed over the past two months.


I have some courgettes starting to grow. I really find it crazy to think that all of this came from a single seed. Nature, right?

My carrots and beetroot are looking good too. Think I will plant some new beetroot seeds in the gaps left in the row to give me a longer yield.

The main task left is to stay on top of the weeding. My neighbour has a big flowering bush on the fence right next to my veg patch, which has dropped loads of seeds onto it. On the plus side, I discovered some jasmine right next to it in my own garden. Jasmine is one of my favourite smells, so it makes being out in my little sunny garden even more pleasurable.

I’m glad that after quite a heavy initial investment of time to prepare the garden, it’s down to routine maintenance that doesn’t take too long. I feel like I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so I’m glad the garden can be relegated to the back burner. It’s clearly still there though- a doodle in a team meeting turned into this.


Dabbling in indoor gardening during the winter whetted my appetite for a larger project. I soon found myself asking my landlady if I could tear up her garden, hoarding compost and ordering seeds online. I even bought a gardening-themed necklace.

Here are a few of the seedlings taking over my house.


Clockwise from top left

  • Various seedlings in my mini greenhouse
  • Dahlias
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes and Brussels sprouts

A mistake I made when I tried to grow pumpkins was not preparing the soil. To be fair to the me of two years ago, the only tool I had was a hand trowel. However, it was ludicrously optimistic to think that I could just chuck the plants into the ground and be rewarded with an abundance of fruit.

This time, I spent a lot of time digging out my vegetable patch. I picked stones and I yanked roots. I dug in organic matter and two types of compost.

I realised the other day that I have only become interested in gardening since beginning intensive psychoanalysis. Something that I especially like about psychodynamic theory is its links to literature, and use of association and metaphor. I could hardly think of a more apt metaphor for analysis than taking the time to transform rough earth into something that can bear fruit.

I’ve written before about how my psychological state can be seen in my creative pursuits, a very obvious example of art imitating life. When I tried gardening before, I was unsuccessful due to a lack of preparation. I didn’t have all of the tools and equipment that I needed to turn my sandy London dirt into a garden that allowed my seedlings to thrive.

Two years on, I find myself researching and making plans to give myself the best chance at success. I took the time to observe my garden to put the vegetables in the best spot. Could this represent..growth?


Since my last post about my garden, spring has sprung and I’ve become quite keen on the idea of growing a few things, as well as making my garden friendly to bees.

I’ll start inside the house. So far, the plants I repotted are doing okay. Since I took the sprouts from my mint and strawberries out of my hedgehog planters, I replaced them with some mini cacti that shouldn’t mind the lack of holes in the base.

The strawberries are doing well, but the mint just never did much. When my penultimate seedling died, I decided to pop the little pot into my mini greenhouse and since then, it’s been doing a lot better.

The other compost plugs have dahlia sprouts I’m growing for a study called Blooms for Bees, being run by various institutions including Coventry Uni, the RHS and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, of which I am a member. The seedlings appeared really quickly, so I repotted them because I was worried about overcrowding.

The coloured sticks indicate the variety of dahlia. I kept the spare seedlings in case I’ve killed any of these.

Thinking about my dream of having a smallholding one day, my herbs are doing okay, apart from the fact that my rosemary actually seems to be sage.

I’m going to look into buying some small rosemary and thyme plants. I think they would be lovely to keep in small pots in the garden. I also have some tomato and beetroot seeds that I need to get on and plant.

My landlady has said I can plant a vegetable patch in the garden. I’m excited to give it a go but apprehensive about whether I’ll actually be able to grow anything edible. The patch looks like this at the moment.

Eep.


A couple of years ago, I moved into my first house in London with a garden. Despite my terror of creepy-crawlies, I cleared it and planted some pumpkins that I’d grown from seed. Unfortunately the pumpkins succumbed to some kind of parasite or something after they flowered, so they never grew to full maturity.

I moved house again in September. Even though my new house also has a (nicer) small garden, gardening was pretty far down on the list of my priorities. However, I did buy some cute hedgehog-shaped herb planters from the shop at the Wellcome Collection.


My dad also gave me a very thoughtful Xmas gift, which was an urban farm kit containing the materials to grow an indoor herb garden.

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All of these things convinced me to switch the focus of my limited amount of gardening time from outside to inside. I occasionally worry about the fact that I am dying a slow death due to to levels of air pollution in London. Someone once told me that going for a run outdoors causes more harm to your health than good due to the dodgy air. No idea if that is a fact fact or an alternative fact, but it stuck with me and I decided to buy some plants that claim to have air-purifying qualities; a peace lily and two varieties of aloe vera.

I also bought these from This Way to the Circus on Etsy.

* Cat with heart eyes emoji*

Soon after my plants arrived from the internet. (Garden centre, what??) I followed the directions as best I could to re-pot them.

I’ve got to say that I’m thrilled with how they’re looking so far. I am considering creating a spreadsheet for perceived levels of air cleanliness over time.

Before long, I was struck with the fear that I may not be able to keep my plant babies alive.  I have killed many a plant in my time. Hopefully the investment I made in these plants will help encourage me to look after them properly. If I manage, I can see more greenery in my future.


Mini update as I’m so pleasantly surprised by how well my pumpkin plants are doing. Eagle-eyed readers of my Watermelon Elephant post may have noticed that the photoshoot took place in my pumpkin patch. Watermellie was a project for the HPKCHC, for a challenge with a loose garden theme. I believe that watermelons and pumpkins are from similar families, so I thought it would be cute to tell a silly story about her emerging from one of my pumpkin flowers. I was doing some weeding today and that prompted me to write a separate post.

Here’s a reminder of how the plants first looked when I transferred them to the garden.

So fragile! A few weeks later, on 16th July, they looked like this.

I weeded afterward I took the pic, don’t worry!

Flowers soon started to appear.

Some of which hatched elephants.

Watermelon striped Elefante by Susan B Anderson

And here is how my plants looked on 3rd August.

Looks like I planted them a bit close together. Oops. But look at my babies!

Also, the plant that I thought was dead totally was a Jesus plant as it’s now flourishing. I think pumpkins must be pretty hardy as I nearly killed another plant through overzealous weeding and that recovered too.