The Edible Garden - Episode 2 - Salads

Alys Fowler

In this Episode of The Edible Garden we visit Alys Fowler who is growing Salads.

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, making things and looking after her much loved chickens.

Alys Fowlers Garden

Her garden is just 20ft by 60ft at the back of her Victorian terraced house.

This year Alys is hoping for as much home grown fruit and produce as possible and not shop bought, all grown in a beautiful but productive garden.

Lettuce, tomatoes and Cucumbers

Each week is a different fruit and vegetable and will show everyone how easy it is wherever you live.

Alys starts by stating the obvious that the difference in taste between shop bought and home grown is huge.

Alys says you can taste the love you put into your growing, and nothing is better than garden to plate salad.


In April, Alys planned where the salad crops would be grown. 

Lots and lots of lettuce in the beds but also some grown in boxes on the patio next to the potatoes in pots.

Lettuce begin! Sorry Pete Free 🌻

Alys fills wine boxes with compost

Alys has salvaged some wine boxes from the off licence and filled them with compost.

She is sowing cut and come again salad leaves, which as the name suggests, you don't pull them up, just cut them.

Artwork of Salad leaves

It is best to sprinkle the seeds from your hand as they come out to quickly direct from the packet.

Then rub the seeds into the compost and pat it down, followed by a sprinkle of water so they don't get washed away.

Alys has been growing lettuce seedlings since February on her windowsill. 

Alys salad seedlings

They are now ready to plant out into the garden after spending a week on the patio to acclimatise.

The soil is very moist after the spring rain and perfect for planting out now that the soil is warming up.

Alys is planting 2 types of lettuce - Emerald Green, a large vibrant green and Flashy Butter Oak.

Alys will repeat this process continuously over the next 6 months to ensure a steady supply of lettuce.

3 weeks after sowing the cut and come again lettuce they need thinning out so they are a centimetre apart.

The ones you take out can be planted elsewhere or eaten.

Tomatoes 'capture the taste of summer' for Alys.

Car boot sale plants

Alys and friend Dave are heading to a car boot sale to buy plants as they are so cheap its not worth growing?

Alys first buy is sprouting broccoli, Chillies and Brussel sprouts, and she came for tomatoes. 

Alys recommends taking the plant out of the pot to check roots are healthy and not pot bound, also see that the leaves are healthy.

Alys shows tomato plants

Alys bought some 25p tomatoes of unknown variety possibly grown in a greenhouse that are in her left hand, above.

In her right hand is a 50p but named variety, that looks so much healthier. 

It's really not worth buying the unhealthy looking plants!

Tomato plant with blight

The enemy of all tomato growers is Blight. 

Tomatoes grown outside are more at risk of getting it as it is air borne.

Alys is building a custom made greenhouse with the help of her friend Sid.

The greenhouse will keep out pests and diseases and protect her plants from the cold.

1930s windows

They used salvaged 1930s window and timber supports to make the greenhouse and it cost £160 to make.

Alys loves it but she not mentioned 'hippy dippy' as yet?


Last year Alys lost all her tomatoes to blight. 

This year she said she was not having tomatoes.

She is gambling on the 50p Gardeners Delight tomato plant and if it doesn't work out she hasn't lost much.

Bucket of nettles

Alys is making a vitamin tonic for the hungry tomato plants. 

You can buy seaweed tonic but she is using nettles.

You put the nettles in a bucket and add water. It smells revolting but the tomatoes love it.

Alys has one tomato plant from a friend that she is putting that in her new greenhouse. 


Cucumbers can be grown outside and Alys has bought some from her local flower show.

Cucumbers don't like cold nights, so wait until the weather has warmed up before planting them out.

Cucumbers growing up plastic fencing

Cucumbers need something to climb up so the netting plastic fence is ideal. 

If cucumbers sit on the soil they rot, they also need good moisture retentive soil, so lots of compost.

Alys tip is to plant it on a slight mound so the stem does not rot off.

The Wild Larder

As there is not a lot ready in the garden Alys is off for a forage with her friend Ingrid!

It is May, so in season should be mint, wild garlic, garlic mustard as well as edible garden weeds.

Alys wears a leaf as a hat

Ingrid tries garlic mustard, it is a little pungent! 

Cleavers next or known as goose grass or even sticky willy that is wilted like spinach.

It then rains, hence the hat!

Alys wears a leaf as a hat

Young lime leaves are picked as a substitute for lettuce. 

Wild garlic is next, followed my nettles for more tomato tonic plus Jeremy's nettle beer! 

Which Alys says sounds revolting.

Dandelion flower

Dandelions flowers are picked next, for fritters. 

I do hope they are picking these all out of the dog wee free height? Pete Free 🌻

Jeremy is making nettle beer

Jeremy, who is Ingrid's husband needs a bin bag full of nettles for his beer as he is making a vat load!

The nettles are put in boiling water.

Brewing buckets

Next they are strained into the brewing bucket, sugar and cream of tartar is added.

The juice and rind of lemons is then added, an awful lot of them.

Brewers yeast is added then it is left for a couple of months. 

Jeremy not made nettle beer before!

Dandelion flower fritters

While they are waiting a foraged supper is made.

Alys makes the dandelion flower fritters whilst Ingrid makes a lime leaf and wild garlic flower salad.

lime leaf and wild garlic flower salad

Cleavers and other leaves are wilted like spinach with butter.

A lovely supper is had by all! 

Alys recommends going on an organised foragers walk so you learn what you can and cannot eat safely.


It is June and the garden looking healthy with its mix of vegetables and flowers.

Traditional growing methods of straight lines and spacing do work but Alys has found that other plants protect and help hers to grow well. 

Like a lettuce in the shadow of a poppy.

Cucumber plants

The cucumbers are doing well and scrambling up the netting supports.

A month after planting out her lettuce Alys is enjoying the Flashy Butter Oak the most.

Cut and come lettuce

The cut and come again lettuce is also doing well.  

It is salad for 2 every single day!

Alys says she would get through 5 bought salad bags a week costing £150 compared to £3 of seeds over 5 months.

Alys eats salad in front of a fountain

The salad looks especially good is posed with, in front of a fountain! Well Alys did say she was in 'a very happy salad place'.


It is July and lots of hose watering is happening.

The beans are in flower, as well as the honeysuckle and the chickens are laying 2 eggs each a day.

Wherever there is a gap in the garden, quick growing crops like radishes are grown.

The new potatoes are ready and Alys has her first heavenly cucumber.

Sowing lettuces

Alys is now sewing lettuces directly in the soil using a jam jar to make a round indent.

Salad crops are the easiest to grow and will last for months.

Unfortunately the dreaded Tomato Blight has killed all of Alys's outdoor tomatoes. 

The safe tomato in the greenhouse

Luckily the one in the greenhouse has been kept safe so far. 

But only for a couple of weeks before Blight gets that one too!

There are some better blight resistant varieties of tomatoes available to grow but at a higher price for the seed!  Worth it though Pete Free 🌻

Alys cycles to meet George

Alys is off to see George at his allotment who has had a bumper crop of tomatoes.

George's tomatoes

George sowed his tomatoes straight into his polytunnel so they have not been exposed to any blight spores.

Alys loves the smell of tomatoes and makes off with a huge pile of them.

Alys has some radishes she has let got to seed so she can eat the radish seed pods. 

Radish seed pods

Spicy and perfect with beer, any excuse for a salad party!

The bees and hoverflies also benefit as they love the flowers.

Beer snacks at the ready bring on the guests and beer.

Pouring the nettle beer

The nettle beer has been fermenting for 2 months and is now ready.

The verdict is, 'it looks good' 'it looks like beer' 'smells of country smells' 'the perfect summer beer'  a yucky sound before being declared 'compost beer'

Alys enjoys the sun but not the beer!

As Alys says not everything goes to plan when growing stuff.

Ending on a plus note Alys has not bought a single cucumber or lettuce and even though her tomatoes failed she found someone who had too many.

No idea how the beer snacks went down though?

All photographs are copyright of

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