Despite my upbringing it wasn't until I moved to the urban jungle of north east London that I really got the bug to grow. Moving to London in Autumn 2002 I felt everything around me was granite, dusty, dirty, bricks and mortar barren - I desperately needed GREEN and signs of LIFE!
This really kick started my need for somewhere to grow and after the initial pokey flat with no outside space, 3 months on I moved to another small shared flat but this time ... with a sunny roof terrace! I started off with a mixture of herbs and flowers and quickly found out the more you watered the bigger they grew. I was addicted to at least a daily walk around the roof terrace. Neighbours commented that I had green fingers as I was out in the garden all the spare time I had. Day by day my love affair with plants grew and grew, until it came time to move again, so I sought out house share with a garden with soil. I moved to Brixton in South London which was much leafier than Archway and as soon as I started looking for plants for the garden I thought I'd try some vegetables (tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes)
I was happily growing them for a while, but didn't really think about cooking initially until one rather hungover Saturday morning when I couldn't face a trip to our local corner shop a 100 metres down the road. It suddenly struck me that there were ripe courgettes and tomatoes in the garden, so I chopped them and lightly fried them with some onion and miraculously within about 10 minutes the hangover was gone. I was sold! My passion for growing food had started. The next house I moved to was in the even leafier Streatham. The house had an enormous garden with a veg patch, flower borders and an apple tree. It was about the size of a tennis court with a long lawn in the middle. I learnt a lot with this garden and grew runner beans, courgettes, sweet peppers, strawberries, carrots and parsnips, aubergines, sweetcorn, tomatoes, leaks and I continued to try new things. This was the first garden I started to grow things from seed and I was pretty successful. I was also lucky to have the bedroom right at the top of the house which was really light and warmed by the spring sunshine - a perfect place to germinate seeds and grow seedlings.
My next garden was a small patio garden in Wandsworth, South West London which I shared with my then lovely boyfriend, now husband Matt. He loves the tomatoes and garlic I grow and especially likes the fact that these come into season together! He is fantastic at building the supports for my plants and I have the green fingers and a passion for cooking what we grow. I also gardened and mentored in the Bramford Community Garden in Wandsworth Town where I could experiment with growing larger vegetables like Rhubarb and globe artichokes.
I now have a 40 foot Birmingham garden in South Birmingham and a work allotment which has the most amazing soil which I continue to feed. The allotment is just 2m x 3m in a sheltered sun trap. Both gardens give me plenty of opportunities to experiment with new crops such as quinoa which I've grown more successfully this year with saved seeds from last year.
The garden constantly fuels my passion and enthusiasm to experiment with growing new edibles.