Broad Beans, and what comes after?


I don’t really like broad beans.
OK, I don’t really like the beans themselves, but I always grow the plants – they are so pretty with their purple flowers and quick growing habit.
They fix nitrogen into the soil, so I always chop them off an inch above the soil when I do harvest them, rather than disturb the roots by pulling them up. Sometimes, I’m luckier to get a smaller secondary crop later in the season.

I’m already thinking into the future for these beds. Brassicas are the next in the rotation plan – they are nitrogen hungry so use a lot of the nitrogen brought to the top soil by the beans. I love the purple sprouting broccoli, so my seeds were sown into seedtrays inside a few weeks ago, and should be ready to plant out by the time I chop the beans.

So what will I do with the beans this year? I set a facebook challenge to my gardening and cooking friends to find the best broad bean recipes – I need to be convinced!
This is the one I shall be trying out in a few weeks, I’ll report back to let you know if it passes muster.

Broad Bean Hummus

450g/1lb fresh broad beans
100g/3½ oz tinned chickpeas (save 6 tbsp of the liquid from the can)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 heaped tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground white pepper
pinch caster sugar (optional)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cook the podded broad beans in a pan of boiling, salted water for a minute or two, or until tender. Drain and cool in iced water. This makes the next step much easier.

Make a cup of tea, put the radio on and remove the skin from the bright green beans.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and smoosh until completely combined.

Serve with crackers, carrot sticks or felafels.

Basil Infographic

I’m developing some information charts for herbs in the wellness garden on the Glastonbury site. The plants currently being tended here in Wales, and in Bristol, all have gentle medicinal properties and have been used safely for generations.

I’ve been playing with the infographic site Piktochart, and started with my all time favourite herb – Basil. Reputed to be hard to grow, it’s a herb that I have an affinity with and have grown commercially.


Brass Monkeys

5th January – absolutely brass monkeys out there this morning!

As ever, no-one will wear a coat to school, despite it being -5C. Mad fools. In contrast, I am bundled up to the eyeballs in scarves, hats, gloves, coat, jumpers, wooly socks… I look like someone knitted the Michelin man…

Time for a quick foray into the back garden for blog inspiration today. There’s not much


going on, and I can’t find any use for the grass, so I lifted some dandelions. The back garden hasn’t been cultivated for years, it was just a huge swathe of lawn when I moved in two years ago. I started landscaping it last autumn, sketching many designs before deciding on a forest forage style garden. I have lain some of the ground under black landscaping fabric, and under here is a diggable area with dandelions still trying to hang on to survival. Not for long…

I managed to get eight large dandelion roots up, before the collie began to drive me insane with her ‘help’. She reckons she can garden better than me, and likes to show me so – very, very insistently. Her digging and prancing drives me mad, so for everyone’s sake, I stopped after twenty minutes.

Dandelion roots go deep, and are great bio-accumulators in an organic setting. They have digestive and bitter properties, good for indigestion, spleen disorders, relieving heartburn and constipation, and stimulating the appetite. They contain inulin, a fermentable fibre, which is a prebiotic and good for gut health. It’s probably good for making kim chi – I’ll share this with you soon.

Roasted Dandelion Roots

This is not a coffee substitute recipe. I love coffee. Nothing else will cut it for me. Let’s leave the dandelion coffee to those poor souls that can’t tolerate coffee.


Dandelion roots, washed and gently scraped with the edge of a teaspoon


chop into small pieces, about 1cm thick

Boil for 5 mins, or until soft

Put in a heavy pan (I love my cast iron ware, it retains heat to make caramelising so much easier), and add a small knob of butter and a sprinkle of sugar and heat gently to caramelise.

Serve with scrambled eggs and toasted sour dough with lots of salt and pepper.