Seed Pantry scoops The Good Web Guide Award!

Seed Pantry reaps rewards as it is voted Home and Garden website of the year. 

Seed Pantry has been awarded best Home and Garden website in the annual Good Web Guide (GWG) Awards 2012. The prestigious event, held in central London on 20th November, announced winners from thirteen categories and seedpantry.co.uk came top in its class and walked away with the coveted accolade.

Showcasing the UK’s best websites and online businesses, The Good Web Guide Awards recognise innovation, and excellence in online retailing. The awards were presented by Bec Astley Clarke, founder of online designer jewelley company Astley Clarke. The judging panel included representatives from Soleberry Advisory, Zoopla and Lovefilm, Trendwatching and Ariadne Capital. Entrants were assessed on innovation, originality and the quality of website design, usability, content and end products or services, sites that you’d want to bookmark and tell your friends about.

Seed Pantry founder, Neil Whitehead says: “It’s a fantastic honour to receive this award and we are delighted to receive such recognition from well-respected industry experts. This is the first time we have entered the GWG awards, or any awards for that matter, so to win our category is a great achievement. It shows that all our efforts and hard work have paid off and it motivates us to drive the business forward.”

“It was a superb evening with some of the country’s most influential and innovative web business owners in attendance. We met some fantastic people who we’re hoping will soon all be growing their own quality urban food!”

Gabrielle Hase, judge and director of Soleberry Advisory says: “Seed Pantry is an exciting and innovative business and the website fulfills all the criteria for the category. It is easy to use, has relevant and interesting content and offers a great product to consumers and communicates a strong brand voice. Competition was tough this year as all entrants were of a very high standard, but Seed Pantry’s website stood out and is certainly one to watch in 2013. I wish Neil and his team all the best for the future and look forward to their success with the business.”

Full details of the awards and other category winners can be found here: http://www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk/website-of-the-year/awards-2012/winners-announced/15052

Grow your own Seed Pantry vegetables during Vegan Month

November is Vegan Month and here at Seed Pantry, we are always encouraging our green-fingered fans to plant and grow their own vegetables, salads and herbs. So what better time to experiment with a vegan diet than 1st November – World Vegan Day. This year, the organisers are hoping that a record number of people will pledge to try plant-based eating for at least one day or – for a real challenge – the full month.

Now is a great time to start thinking about setting up a vegetable patch in the garden, or if you don’t have the space, our popular kits let you grow your own in even the smallest of outdoor spaces – from balconies, window-sills and yards.

As well as being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, growing your own veg, salads and herbs means you can eat completely organic produce, grown and picked by you.

Growing your own can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Tending to the seeds, watering, monitoring and harvesting is great exercise and can be therapeutic too.
The fresh air and gentle workout will do wonders for your health. You’ll feel a great sense of achievement when you cook up your hand-picked veggies and serve them to family and friends for dinner!

So during Vegan Month, why not start growing your own vegetables, salads and herbs at home and maybe even spend a day experimenting with the vegan diet.

1st November, Vegan Day, marks the start of Vegan Month celebrating the coining of the term, ‘vegan’ and the founding of The Vegan Society in November 1944.

Seed Pantry creates city food garden..

Seed Pantry joins forces with Delphis Eco to create office food garden

Delphis Eco is developing an inspired community food garden in the disused spaces around the Delphis Eco offices with the help of Seed Pantry and Transition Town Wandsworth.  With many acres of office garden space around the country they hope to raise awareness and lead the way for other companies to make their garden spaces more accessible, healthy and sustainable for those who work there.

To encourage people to grow more of their own food Delphis Eco have collaborated with Seed Pantry, Transition Town Wandsworth and Capital Growth (a London initiative by Mayor Boris Johnson) to get the local community involved in developing an otherwise fruitless garden space into a vibrant healthy community growing space where passers by can help themselves to produce.

Seed Pantry founder Neil Whitehead comments, “I’m very excited to be working with Delphis Eco and the London food growing initiatives, it’s great to see businesses encouraging people to grow food wherever possible. Our aim is to get everyone to have a go at growing your own food and as people spend a great deal of time at work this is a perfect place to encourage this. With this collaboration we’re demonstrating the simple steps for businesses to provide healthy working environments that involve local communities and support sustainable living”. 

Delphis Eco Managing Director Mark Jankovich said, “I read in a local newspaper that there was a huge waiting list for an allotment in the area.  I knew I wanted fruit and vegetables grown in our little garden but this was certainly beyond my ability.  I am delighted to have Transition Town Wandsworth (a community based organisation) on board as the green fingers of the project and Seed Pantry offers the perfect approach to growing food in urban environments and we’re really pleased to be working with them on this.”

To keep up to date with the progress of the garden you can follow the blog:

www.delphiseco.blogspot.com

Square Foot Gardening

My problem in life is that I just don’t know when to stop – this applies to spending, talking, eating, and….sowing seeds.  Once I have that seed packet in my hand, I just want to sow them all.  Immediately.  And, whilst it’s satisfying at that moment, it’s not so good a few weeks or months down the line when we’re trying to think of new ways of cooking, eating or knitting kale.

Exhibit 1: Example of my oversowing – how long would it take people to eat these onions?

During some aimless internet surfing, I came across the square foot gardening (SFG) method and thought that this might be just the thing to curb my profligate ways with seeds. 

The basics of SFG were stated as follows:

– Raised beds - that don’t require cultivating and which you do not have to walk on as you can reach every part of the bed from outside the bed;

– Addition of a special mix of compost/vermiculite/peat;

– Division of beds into square feet - clearly marked with string or something more permanent so that the divisions are visible as crops grow;

– Intensive planting of different crops within each square foot;

– Successional sowing - so no gluts and a continuous crop throughout the growing season.

 

So, for each square foot you sow a specific number of seeds depending on the crop so that you don’t waste seeds and also you don’t have to thin out plants that are overcrowded.  Common spacing is:

– 1 plant/square for larger plants like cabbage or broccoli

– 4 plants/square for medium plants like lettuce

– 9 plants/square for medium-small plants like spinach

– 16 plants/square for small plants like carrots and spring onions.

Anything that takes up lots of space through their habit such as runners or courgettes are grown vertically on frames or supports.

So far, so good.

Of course, I didn’t decide to follow it precisely – who doesn’t read the instructions for something and think “ooh, I don’t think that applies to me?” or “I can’t really be bothered with that it so I’ll adapt it for my own lazy ways…….”  I did use raised beds and I did divide up into the square feet but I decided to cultivate the soil that was in there and add some soil improver in the autumn to help with my clay soil structure and also to add some nutrients (I didn’t need peat – stay peat free!).

 

    

   2Dividing into square feet & putting up protection.

 

 

 

 

 1. Cultivating Soil

Next..deciding what to grow?

I mainly went with salads and lots of carrots which I love but also grew some kohl rabi because it looked cool in a picture I had seen!  I then went into overdrive with a crazy spreadsheet that had 32 columns and nearly 300 rows (representing each day) – OMG I was trying to plan to the nth degree – what to sow, how long it would be in the ground when it would be out and so then when I could sow the next lot.  

Duh!  I now realise that all I really needed to do was sow everything once in their respective squares and then wait for it to germinate.  Once a particular crop in a square had come up then to do a second sowing in any free square I had and continue doing this until the seed packets said that it was too late to sow or I ran out of squares.  Some crops like kohl rabi I didn’t need so much of so I sowed less often.

    

3.  Very neat and tidy at the start           4.  Now, growing well..slightly crowded

 

 

Some observations..

– Crops like radish mature very quickly so their square comes free within the season to be sowed again with something else.

– Some crops like carrots were tall and shaded other plants/flopped into other squares – next time I’ll make sure I sow these crops on the North of the bed so they don’t shade the other veg and will also put up some Heath Robinson affair to stop them flopping into the other squares.

– It takes quite a lot of discipline to do this as you have to be sowing quite often – I have to admit that I wasn’t as attentive as I could have been *hangs head in shame*.

– The main pests in my urban garden are foxes, squirrels and cats so with the raised beds, it was easy to put up some protective netting and whilst they aren’t cheap they are very strong and I can see them lasting for ever.

– I haven’t had gluts which has been brilliant – no new knitting patterns for kale required!

Overall I think this is a great way to grow veg in a confined space and with a bit more discipline I think it will be even more successful next year.

 

This post written by the Seed Pantry guest: Nell Jones.

Nell recently studied Horticulture as a career change from 20 years in recruitment and now works at the wonderful Chelsea Physic Garden. 

You can read Nell’s own blog here: http://capabilityjonesblogs.blogspot.com/

 

Growing my toms, chillies & peppers – stage 2

Late April / May I potted on my tomato, chillies and pepper plants into the Seed Pantry 9cm rice husk pots that are a perfect size to continue growing your own summer veg.  By early June the young plants roots were poking out of the bottom of the pots and had grown to a height of 10cm to 20cm.  This means they where then ready to be planted outside in our small backyard in London.

To plant them in their final growing positions, which can be outside or inside, gently ease them out of the pots by tapping on the bottom, perhaps use a plant marker to run round the inside edge to loosen the soil, be careful not to damage the plants.  I prefer to use the rice husk pots several times as they are sturdy like plastic but entirely biodegradable, great!

Get your final containers, window boxes or pots and hanging baskets ready with some peat free compost in the bottom, I used the Seed Pantry coir Compost Blocks to add moisture retention to the pots.  Just soak them in 3 litres of water to make 9 litres of compost!

Add your compost and then the plants with enough space around them to grow into – around 10cm to 20cm is good. Add more compost and firm them in gently. Give them a good drink of water to help them settle into their new environment.

They like to be in a fairly sheltered and warm environment for continued growing and once they start to flower they will need a regular organic feed to help produce excellent juicy and spicy hot fruits (for the chillies!).

I’ll report back on stage 3 once they flower and start producing baby peppers, chillies and tomatoes.

Growing my toms, chillies & peppers

There’s plenty of options for growing your own veg and sowing seeds at the moment, but a must for me in our small backyard in West London are a few tomatoes, plenty of chillies and peppers too.

You can get them going on your window sills using mini compost disc’s or you could try recycling yogurt pots filled with compost and pop a hole in the bottom for drainage. Sow 1 seed per pot/disc, put them in a sunny place and keep watered. Then move them into a slightly bigger pot after they have 3/4 leaves, the seedlings in the picture above are ready for this stage, use a 9cm wide/tall pot or perhaps a used soup tub. Move the young plants outside in around 4 weeks once they are 10cm to 20cm tall, transfer to either larger pots of 20cm wide or more or 3 plants to a grow bag.

I’m growing Tumbling Tom tomatoes in 2 hanging baskets as well as the varieties from our new Heirloom Tomato Seeds box: Outdoor Girl which is more of a bush type plant with smaller fruits, Marmande with big beefy fruits and Alisa Craig with medium sized juicy fruits.  Apache chillies and sweet spanish peppers are also in the mix.  

If you’re keen to grow your own veg then these varieties are easy to grow and will produce excellent flavours in whatever space you have spare.  They do really well in pots on the patio/backyard/courtyard or on balconies and roof terraces with a little shelter…

 

Spring Competition

Our new competition is for all food growers out there from beginners to experts.  We’re celebrating the great British Spring Season with photos of all growing edibles from seeds, sowings and seedlings that are growing in any veg spaces you have, include yourselves along with the family in the pics too if you wish.

Just send in your best photos with the subject ‘SPRING COMPETITION’ to info@seedpantry.co.uk and we’ll pop them on our facebook page for judging by the Seed Pantry team and fans.

3 lucky winners will receive:

First prize winner will receive a gourmet Summer Salads Starter Pack

Two runners up will receive our wonderful Mini Herb Pantry seed kit along with some mini compost disc’s to sow the seeds in!

The spring competition starts now and runs through to June…so celebrate foodie spring and get snapping!

 

We are listed with PhotographyCompetitions.Net

Cono Sur teams up with Seed Pantry..

Cono Sur teams up with the Seed Pantry at the Edible Garden Show

In line with its green credentials, award-winning Chilean winery Cono Sur is linking up with urban gardening company Seed Pantry to exhibit at this year’s Edible Garden Show at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire from 18th – 20th March.

Continuing their joint efforts to encourage people to grow, cook and eat their own produce, Cono Sur and Seed Pantry are inviting visitors to their ‘Urban Garden’ stand at the Edible Garden Show, where they will demonstrate innovative ways to grow fruit and vegetables in the smallest of spaces, from window boxes to balconies, using household items such as newspapers and even bikes!

Visitors to the stand will have the opportunity to taste the delicious, sustainably-produced wines within the award-winning Cono Sur range including the highly-acclaimed Pinot Noir, as well as learn how to plant vegetable seeds, make a plant pot out of old newspaper and find out about how to match their home-grown produce to Cono Sur wines.

Cono Sur is renowned for its sustainable production, becoming the first winery in South America to gain the ISO 14 064 certification, widely regarded as the most reliable measure of efficiency in measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainability is at the heart of Cono Sur’s philosophy and the team goes to great lengths to produce perfect wines with the minimum environmental impact.

Cono Sur and the Seed Pantry’s Urban garden stand will be at the Edible Garden Show from the 18th – 20th March so come along and learn how to eat, cook and drink sustainably! For further information on sustainable living and seasonal recipe ideas, visit the website www.conosurgreencooks.com

Winter Competition

COMPETITION…Snowy Veg Patch?Summer Veg Starter Pack

We’re launching our winter competition that celebrates your lovely veg surviving the cold conditions!

All you need to do is send a picture of your winter veg growing inside or outside in any space in the veg patch or pots/containers, we will select the best photo and the lucky winner will receive a gourmet Summer Veg Starter Pack to get spring off to a good start and two runners up will receive a Mini Herb Pantry seed kit!

To enter just email your picture to: info@seedpantry.co.uk with the subject ‘SNOWY VEG COMPETITION’

We will put all the entries on our facebook page too….so get snapping

Competition ends 14th February 2011.  This has been extended from the 22nd January.

 

 We are listed at PhotographyCompetitions.Net

Urban Digger – September 2010

Food growing doesn’t stop when it gets cold! You can continue to grow your own food in autumn..

and through to winter by sowing autumn vegetables…what are they I hear you ask?…well things like Pak Choi, winter lettuces, chard and oriental mustards are a good start for urbanites. If you can find a little room on a window sill they can all be grown now outside.

September is a time when there are still plenty of vegetables to be picked from summer like French beans and butternut squash. Often you have more veg than you know what to do with, so get the recipe books out and make the most of harvest time, there are lots of wonderful recipes in the Seed Pantry forum too.

Seed Pantry at the Start Garden Party…

For most of September I have been really busy with Seed Pantry exhibiting at the Start Garden Party, held at Clarence House. This has been an exciting and informative event all about inspiration for making simple steps to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Start is a new charity run by the Prince of Wales Trust aimed at helping us all to be a little bit more sustainable in the way we live.

There were loads of things to see and do from clothes swapping parties, a pledge tree to make your pledge to do something sustainable – like growing veg!, a dance floor that generates electricity and a solar powered greenhouse. My personal favourites were the many innovative ways to produce urban veg with an eye on future cities using every available metre of space and all types of recycled containers for food growing across the four seasons. 

There is loads of information from food growing, shopping to cycling and driving at the www.startuk.org website.

Growing food around my flat..

In the flat I’ve been busy sowing autumn salads on the window sills to replace summer varieties to last for the next few months. With cities being warmer than rural locations it does mean you can grow food all year round with extended seasons where you can experiment with pushing the boundaries of producing veg varieties.  

For sowing and growing autumn salads you can use the same methods as you did the summer varieties of leafy salads in window boxes. Take your window box and add a layer of gravel or broken pot bits in the bottom, add the compost to abut 3cm below the top, firm this down gently, sprinkle your seeds evenly and thinly across the surface for cut-and-come-again leaves, then add a layer of compost over the top about 1cm and firm down, then gently water until the soil is moist. They will survive colder spells and frosts are a while off yet.

My running total of savings is up to around £107 over four months, I would estimate that over the year you could save around £300 by growing your own food in spare spaces…great!.

In the backyard, which is still like a jungle, the production line continues with tomatoes and French beans, Swiss and rainbow chard, and carrots. 

Next month I’ll probably be clearing out the French beans and other crops that are no longer producing to make room for some late sowings of autumn veg – although there are no signs of this yet! I want to try and grow food in the city all year round to show that tasty rewards can be achieved will a small amount of money and work in a small space!