I'm very happy to offer free gardening and wildlife advice to anyone who needs it,
so don't be shy to ask.
I'm excited to share ideas and gardening tips with you all!!
Hello, I'm Dr Kiki Isidoros, I'm a social and ecological anthropologist at the University of Oxford and have lived in Jericho almost 20 years. I love the community spirit we have here, and we're so lucky to be minutes from the heart of both city and countryside.
A few years ago I got really fed up at how expensive and unripe fruit & veg are in the supermarkets...for instance, £2 to £3 for a plastic box containing just a few raspberries or strawberries. And most things are wrapped in plastic.
So I began to grow my own fruit & veg. Like most of us, I only have a tiny Victorian cottage garden. But that first summer I was taken by surprise at how much I could grow in it. What really stunned me was how much money I saved from food shopping. My simple strategy was to grow my favourite things that are pricey in the supermarkets. With just one each of black & red currant bushes, 4 raspberry canes, a dwarf apple and pear tree, and wild alpine strawberries rambling everywhere, I had fruit all summer long. Likewise for salads, I had one each of chives and 'cut & grow again' spinach, rocket, watercress and colourful chard. These dark green salads are superfoods - full of nutrients like iron and don't get attacked by slugs. (I don't bother grow or eat ordinary lettuces - the slugs love them and they actually have very little nutritional value). Exotic veg like globe artichokes are really expensive in the supermarkets, but just one plant in the garden produces enough to eat. And beans - Oh Beans & Peas! - are amazing plants...you only need one or two of your favourite type and not only will the bees love their gorgeous red flowers but you'll have beans coming out of your ears from May to December! Raw peas thrown into a salad are deliciously sweet!
Doesn't it all sound like a huge amount of plants?! But they all fitted really easily into my tiny garden, with plenty of room for flower plants and garden furniture. That's exactly what the famous "English Cottage Gardens" are like - jam-packed with food & flowers, creating an amazing tiny oasis! And just this modest range of fruit & veg produces enough to also preserve into jams & chutneys to enjoy as delicious winter treasures and tide us over the cold months until spring again.
I became so amazed with all the fresh food I was growing, that I became curious about growing on a larger scale. So 2 years ago I started an allotment on Cripley Meadow and won "Best Newcomer"! Now I grow far more than I can eat, and enjoy growing a lot of baby plants and fresh fruit & veg to share with friends and neighbours. Back in my home garden I still grow lots herbs & salads to pick easily while cooking - the fancy buzz phrase is "from garden to plate"! And I've turned it into a beautiful cut-flower garden now - it's so liberating to pick gorgeous fragrant flowers and not pay a penny for them! I never used to buy flowers (they always seemed so expensive) but now I can have completely free flowers to pick to my heart's content and spread them around my home in upcycled bottles and jars.
I hope you'll join me in some really easy projects that could make Jericho bloomin' beautiful! It will make a fascinating science project for us all over this summer to see what exciting things we can do and what Jericho will look like by August!