The Edible Garden - Episode 1 - Peas and Beans

The Edible Garden - Episode 1 - Peas and Beans

In this first episode of The Edible Garden we meet Alys Fowler is growing peas and beans in her Birmingham garden.

Alys introduces herself as a writer and gardener, having grown up in the countryside she now lives in the city with her husband.

Alys gets pleasure from the simple things in life, home made bread, home grown vegetables and making things.

Alys Fowler Garden

Alys' garden measures just 20ft by 60ft and is located at the back of her Victorian terraced house.

This year Alys is hoping to eat as much home grown fruit and produce as possible and not rely on shop bought.

All of the fresh food she eats will all be grown in a beautiful but productive garden.

Edible Garden Episode 1

Each week of The Edible Garden will feature a different fruit and vegetable and will show everyone how easy it is to grow wherever you live.

The programme starts at the beginning of April, in the rain and the start of Alys's growing project.

The first step is to remove some plants to make way for the new vegetables. Anything that's not pretty or cant be eaten is removed.

Edible Garden Garden Plan

The produce is going to be grown in groups and side by side with the flowers.

The plan is to get chickens in place near the compost heap.

 Soft fruit like raspberries will be in another area of the garden.

Coming up the path she will plant potatoes, garlic and salad crops. 

Edible Garden Garden Path

With kale, chard and artichokes growing on the opposite side of the path.

There is also lettuce with pea covered roses, more lettuce with broad beans and fitted in some courgettes.

By the shed, it is squashes and she will let them go over next doors shed roof as its sunny.

Flowers will be squeezed in somewhere!

Peas and Beans

Alys starts with the good looking flowers and pods of beans and peas.

Broad, runner, French beans and mange tout all tasting best freshly picked.

Letting go of traditional growing methods, its planting amongst her flowers for Alys.

Edible Garden Beans

She wants to enjoy the bean flowers and for them to be in the best growing position.

Or companion planting as us veg growers have been doing for years! Will I ever be rid of the cornflowers I planted amongst my sweetcorn for a lovely effect? Self seed nightmare! Pete free 🌻

Edible Garden Broad Beans

The broad beans that were sewn in February and are the first to be ready to plant out.

Alys sowed her broad beans in modules using shop bought compost.
I hope she is using peat free compost! ummm Pete Free 🌻

Alys says she has no slug problems or rotting off growing them this way.

When they are ready you can just pop them straight into the ground.

She does not want her plants to overwhelm her or be competing for space and light so planting them ready grown helps with this.

Alys Fowler Garden

To create a healthy growing environment, bags of compost have been dug into the beds.

The garden needs constant maintenance for the best growing conditions.

Consisting of nipping out and cutting back to create space and light for other plants.

Pea and Bean supports

The peas and beans are going to need supports in order to grow well.

But Alys also wants them to be attractive and 'hippy dippy'!

So a weaver will help her create some non tripod structures to support the plants as they grow.

Alys is off to her local park known for their coppice to get some material for her structures.

Willow, oak, ash or hazel it suitable and as long as it bends is usable and of course they have permission to collect and cut it.

Willow has been used for centuries because of its flexibility and how fast it grows.

Alys Fowler Willow

They collect a mixed bundle of thin and thick willow and carry it back home to make her structure.

Sally the weaver shows Alys how to make the willow bend by using your knee to flex the willow into shape.

To keep it natural looking, they will use plant fibres to bind it together instead of string.

Alys Binding Willow

Alys asks the neighbour Sue for some Phormium or New Zealand Flax leaves to split for bindings.

Once done the lobster pot is placed over plants for protection in the border.

Next a rustic trellis is made for the peas to climb up and put in the border.

Permaculture is Alys inspiration for the garden, observing how nature works and replicating this in your garden.

The Harlow family

The Harlow family having been keen permaculture growers for over 20 years.

They see their garden as a nature reserve that grows food.

Daughters Hayley and Gayle have grown up with their parents way of gardening which some people see as 'hippy dippy'! 

The Harlow family garden

Alys does like that phrase Pete Free 🌻

The garden invites wildlife, including predators for pests into the garden.

They don't use any pesticide in their garden so it is all organic.

The garden is also zoned with the most used, delicate plants nearest to the house such as the salad crops.

Edible Garden Pancakes

The girls are making pancakes with a filling of seasonal berries from the garden.

They don't use commercially bought products and try to be self sustaining.

The family see it as doing their little bit towards helping the planet.


An unseasonably warm May means its time to start mulching to suppress the weeds but also to keep the moisture in the soil.

Not having enough home made compost Alys has to use shop bought compost to form a thick layer around her plants.

The broad beans need a lot of water as the flowers set.

Alys Fowler Garden

Alys comes out in the garden every day and is amazed by the way it is growing and loves being out in it.

She is enjoying this relaxed approach to gardening, not tied down to planting schedules and letting nature be more responsive.

She feels free and 'crazy hippy'! 
Not dippy? Pete Free 🌻

Today is the day the chickens arrive and it is another step to self sufficiency.

Alys' mum kept chickens when she was a child. She had over 200 chickens and sold the eggs as a business. 

Alys Fowler Chicken

She will be able to recycle through the chickens, feeding them kitchen waste then using the manure on the garden and hopefully getting lovely fresh eggs.

Alys points out that you need to check with your local council on the local rules on keeping chickens before rushing out to get them.

The chicken run is put in place then the birds are collected from the van.

They are 18 weeks old and called point of lay and cost around £15 each.

Alys has a speckled and Bluebell and are named Gertrude and Alice, I have given you the shortened version of the naming. 

Cutting chicken feathers

The chickens flight feathers are cut off, making sure the end of the wing is not cut and they are left to settle into their new home.

The flight feathers need trimming every 6 months or so.


It is now June in Alys' garden.

Natures is doing its thing but a lot of watering is needed in the garden!

Alys waters the garden

Using a hose it seems! what is wrong with a nice big water butt? Pete Free 🌻

Alys's runner beans, French beans and mange tout are all doing well.

Alys is especially proud of her broad beans!

Alys pinches out the tops so the plants energy goes into making the beans and not into further growth of the plant.

This will hopefully also help to keep the blackfly at bay.

Picking broad beans

Just a few weeks later the broad beans and mange tout are ready to harvest.

Eating the mange tout fresh from the plant is a huge temptation!

Alys grew the variety Red Epicure broad bean.

Broad beans make great Falafel!

Boiling Broad beans

You simply boil the broad bean, add chickpeas and garlic.

Next add cumin and fresh herbs, parsley, mint and coriander.

Then the mixture is mashed and shallow fried until crispy on the outside. 

Frying the Falafel

'No faff falafel' apparently.

The chickens have settled in except for the odd escape attempt.

Now they have matured they are laying every day!

Every other day its a huge double yoker from Gertrude.

Alys Fowler eating an omelette

These are quickly whisked into an omelette with fresh herbs and promptly devoured by Alys.


July and mid summer and the garden is producing well.

Continuous harvesting and planting keeps the garden as productive as possible.

Pea shoots

You don't need a garden to grow produce. 

A container on a window ledge can reap a good harvest.

Edible Garden Pea Shoots

Pea shoots take just a few weeks to grow and are ideal for salads. 

They can be grown from dried peas bought in the supermarket.

Alys Fowler Peashoots

To plant you just cram as many in as you can, water them and put them somewhere warm.

Very easy to grow with tasty results.


It is August and the garden is at its most productive and it looks very pretty.

Alys Fowler picks beans

This is when you can also be left with a glut of some vegetables. 

Runner beans need to be picked constantly for them to continue producing.

Alys Fowler Checks Beans

Alys is freezing her beans to use later in the year for soup and curries.

Alys grew purple Nectar Queen French beans.


Alys has loads of peas hoots so she decides to make 'Peatinis' basically peas and martini!

A recipe by Chef Mark Hix.

The pea shoots are put in a jar and blended with a drop of water.


Gin. sugar syrup and a squeeze of lemon finishes it off.

Add friends, Falafel and salad and you got yourself a party!

Alys says 'her garden rocks'

All Photographs are copyright of

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