We asked Helen Smith, one of the founder members of Incredible Edible Inverness, to tell us more about our resident vegetable patch…
Since spring this year, the flower bed in front of the Bishop’s Palace at Eden Court Theatre has had a new role growing edible plants for people - and sometimes also for wildlife!
Incredible Edible Inverness formed just over a year ago and now has veggie beds looked after by volunteers at 15 locations in Inverness. We planted up the Bishop’s Palace bed in May with herbs, lettuce, oriental leaves for salads and stir fries, blueberry bushes and edible flowers including sunflowers and nasturtiums supplied by our friends in Ness Natural Flowers. Our aim is to provide free, fresh food for local people, and show that even as far north as the Highlands you can grow good food easily and cheaply without spending lots of time and money, or waging war on wildlife. We are very grateful to Eden Court for giving us permission to plant at the theatre.
Gardeners often complain about wildlife eating their plants, but we think there is enough to go round! Seeing a blackbird happily scratching around in the soil as we planted up the first veggies in spring was a wee sign that we were doing something right. Local pigeons feasted on the kale plants over the summer but the plants have recovered and there are plenty of leaves now for people to help themselves to.
Over the summer, you may have seen the clouds of little yellow flowers on pak choi plants in the bed which had gone to seed but we weren’t being lazy in not deadheading them; we were sharing with the wee bugs which are part of our ecosystem - and, gosh, they made the most of them, as well as enjoying the flowers on the mint, nasturtiums and sunflowers.
We’ve just planted up new winter vegetable plants to fill in the gaps where the summer vegetables are finished - all raised in Inverness from seed for pennies and using no special equipment other than re-used plant pots and compost.
Why not help yourself to the mint, sage, kale and radicchio, which is ready for picking just now, and come back in early spring when there should be a range of lovely lettuces and new pak choi to pick. Ignore the odd wee nibble in some leaves – it’s a sign that a hungry wee creature somewhere has had a small meal on us, but there is plenty to go round!
We think that local food growing for people (and for wildlife) is one small but practical way we can help repair our damaged world. Do you have a small space in your local community or at home where you can do what we are doing?
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