The Story

Tanja Raaste 

I started my gardening journey with a potted basil plant and a tomato, after which things got kind of out of hand.  I now grow over 70 varieties of edible plant in my small urban garden, using organic, permaculture, no-dig and forest gardening methods – all designed to make the garden as productive, beautiful and low-maintenance as possible.

Decisions on what to grow are made on the basis of tastiness – a true ta-led garden!  When not experimenting in the garden, I run this blog and offer a design and planning service for others wishing to grow edibles.

The Edible Garden 

In 2012 I moved to a flat with a garden for the first time in my adult life. In the past, I had dabbled with a few tomatoes in a pot and some herbs on the windowsill.  This was different.

There was no existing  ‘garden’ as such. The outdoor space was mainly covered in rubble and decades-old junk – more tip than garden.  But it was mine. Sure, rented, but mine for now. In the beginning, there was some kind of delusion that it would be ‘ours’ but the boyfriend was  disabused of that notion pretty quickly.

After several months of harassing our landlord, the junk was finally picked up in early spring, and then, with the help of some lovely friends who pitched in a very sweaty day turning the ground over, I had some bare soil, ready for planting.

I want to highlight that I knew nothing about growing stuff at this stage.  I’d never had an allotment, and while growing up I avoided ‘gardening’ as it consisted mainly of carting the piles of hedge cuttings that my Dad was creating to the nearby dump – under some duress I may add.

Friends said I should grow potatoes, as they would help break up the heavy London clay soil.  I had never wanted to grow them as, frankly, they’re cheap to buy, and they’re not… well, they’re not sexy, are they?  But, aware that I really did not know anything about anything, I dutifully trotted off to a garden centre and bought a bag of seed potatoes, as a quick internet search showed that it wasn’t a good idea to plant shop bought potatoes.  I’ve got no idea what type they were, but I threw them into the ground, little realising what a success they would become.

I then went to the pound store and to some other local cheapy stores and bought bare root raspberries, which promptly all died.  I tried some carrots and beetroots. Former were a big disappointment, the latter were pretty good. Tried some tomatoes – which grew huge and gave a great crop, even though kilos and kilos succumbed to blight.  The boyfriend bought some alpine strawberries from ebay that we planted, and I bought some strawberry plants. We bought some herbs from the supermarket and planted them, and I would browse the seed packets in every store.

The rhubarb that I had been given by a previous neighbour and that had so far lived in a pot finally got a permanent home. Beyond that, I’m not sure what we planted, as I didn’t keep any notes.  I basically threw stuff at the ground.

Then, I got a Dalek compost bin from freecycle and we started composting.  I got a subscription to a garden magazine and would spend hours googling. The obsession was well underway.  I set up this blog to tell the story of my garden and the profound way it has changed our lives, as well as to share the knowledge and tips that I have gathered along the way.  I hope you enjoy it.