February Notes from the Garden Shed

One of the many joys of working in the Skip Garden are the many interns and volunteers that we’ve got to work with over the years.  They don’t just come from the UK presently we’ve Ylva Fahlén from Sweden then recently Marta Martínez Santiago from Tenerife.  Marta is now touring South America and to support our Skip garden’s Celebration of World Fruit & Veg has kindly agreed to be our ‘roving reporter’ when it comes to unusual fruit and vegetables. I’m so excited as this is from a continent that has given us many of our standard fruit and veg.

Here’s some amazing fruit that she’s found in Ecuador -

Pacay (they eat the inner membrane, a kind of cotton) -Tumba – Lujma - Morinchima- Guanabana - Babaco – Zapote –Achotillo – Granadilla - Carambola – Pepinillo -- goodness that’s given me some homework!  I’ll add a few each month as I discover what they are.

One of the six vegetables we’ve chosen for our Celebration of World Fruit & Vegetables is Maize. I think everyone would recognise a sweet corn cob but here is what Marta's been finding.

“It's incredible how many different varieties they've got (they told me 350 different varieties of maize). They use the purple maize to colour wool and made a special drink called "Chicha morada".

I could see maize crops in Bolivia: copacabana (lago titicaca). Perú: Cuzco and on my way to Huaraz, Ecuador: Cuenca, Baños, Otavalo. They told me that in the Sacred Valley (Cusco, Perú) they grow the biggest maize grain. And this is the reason that Inca civilization chose this place to grown their crops. In Cusco people told me that they have a dry season from May to September and a rainy season from October to April. They don't water their maize crops.”

We’re presently planning our new season crops for the Skip Garden and the local terrace planters that we maintain and have been buying loads of seeds. This year and next year we’re also planning to support a London Seed Saving project by growing and saving our seeds.  This is slightly more complicated as some of the vegetables need two years to set seed – it’s going to be an interesting journey – watch this space!

Goodbye February ‘fill-dyke’  - Welcome mad March Hares – if the month it comes in like a lamb it will go out like a lion – or vis-versa)

Start ordering your seeds now!