the inspiration to grow your own

I have been very inspired by a group of local green-fingered foodies this month. Transition St Albans are a lovely group of people who grow their own fruit and vegetables at home in St Albans and on allotments. They are mid-way through a series of Open Food Gardens, where anyone can go along and see what can be grown locally, and get free advice and support.

We went to June and Arthur’s garden in Gresford Close. It was astonishing to see how many varieties of fruits and vegetables can be grown in a small back garden. Every space was used: miniature fruit trees and berry bushes covered the fences and raised beds were filled with vegetables and herbs. There was space for compost bins and a water butt, as well as space for tables so visitors could sit and enjoy June’s delicious home-made blackcurrant cake. We were able to ask questions, and get reassured about the slow progress of our fruit trees, and the children were encouraged to pick fresh broad beans, and have a nibble. It was very inspiring. See Box for details of Open Food Gardens.

Herts Advertiser readers are also very welcome to go the annual TSA Green Drinks at the Farmer’s Boy (London Road) on 4th October.  The TSA members get together to celebrate the growing season, and they take what they have grown, cooked, or preserved to share with others. This will be a great way to meet like-minded people and talk through your gardening successes (or failures!) this year.


This year, TSA have opened six gardens for visitors, and there are two left to visit before the end of the summer. There is no need to book – just turn up and ask all the questions you want. They ask for a donation of £2 towards TSA funds for everyone aged over 16, and light refreshments are available. Please do not take dogs other than Guide Dogs.

* Saturday 20 August 2-5. Helen and Nicolas’ garden at 104 Marshalswick Lane, St Albans. 

A large mature garden, with many kinds of fruit trees and bushes, vegetables and herb beds. There are also compost bins, water butts and a pond for wildlife.

* Sunday 18 September 2-5, Catherine’s garden at 21 Woodstock Road, St Albans

A small family garden in Fleetville. They grow a small amount of lots of different fruits and vegetables to encourage their children to know where food comes from. I will be very interested to see how they manage to grow veg around bikes and all the clutter that comes with children.

Demonstration gardens

You may have noticed that The Courtyard Cafe garden (Hatfield Road) has had a new lease of life this year. The TSA worked with owner and chef Michael to plant the small garden with salad leaves, herbs, courgettes, beans, rainbow chard and tomatoes that he can harvest to use in the cafe. At the moment Michael is using courgettes in the mixed bean and halloumi salad and serving beetroot with mackerel. Michael and the team love the new garden, and enjoy just walking out in the morning to pick fresh ingredients to use for lunch that day.

The Farmer’s Boy pub (London Road) also has a small demonstration garden, made using recycled pallets. The landlords use it for fresh salads and herbs. The garden shows that you don’t need to have much space or spend a lot of money to enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs.

If you feel inspired, you can buy small plants ready to plant at Earthworks or Carpenter’s Nursery (Sandridge). It’s not too late in the year to pop in some salad leaves (ours from Earthworks are still going strong!). Or visit the gardens and get inspired for next year!

If you would like to contact the group: If are interested in the Open Food Gardens, then you can also use




About thelocalfoodie

Food writer for The Herts Advertiser.
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