The Edible Garden - Episode 3 - Roots and Leafy Greens

Alys Fowler

In this episode of
The Edible Garden, we meet Alys Fowler is telling us about her root vegetables and leafy greens.

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' back 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.

Alys garden is a very average garden and is not perfect by any means. 

She aims to grow a meal a day from the plants in her terrace garden.

Roots and Leafy Greens

The mainstay of her garden is the root vegetables and leafy greens, which will produce from mid summer into winter.

Alys plans to grow kale, swiss chard, sprouting broccoli, potatoes and beetroot. 

Alys is going to have to cram a lot in, so the soil is important and needs to be rich in nutrients. 

Alys is feeding the soil as well as adding shop bought compost.


The first crop she will be putting in is potatoes.  The seed potatoes were bought in January.

The seed potatoes need to chit on a windowsill until late march when they are sprouting.

Sprouting seed potatoes

Alys is growing salad potatoes in pots on the patio as well as slotting them in space she can find in the garden.

She has also started growing the vegetable crop.

She has started by sowing seeds in seed trays including the beetroot. 

Beetroot in seed trays

Alys presses the beetroot seeds into the soil.

The beetroot seeds only need a low temperature to germinate and this takes around two weeks.

Hailstones on the garden

Unfortunately a hail storm has reeked havoc on Alys's garden and it has ruined a lot of her early crops!

The disappointment of the loss was dealt with by a strong cup of tea.

Luckily, Alys had back up plan!

Back up plants

She has been growing extra on her windowsill and it has saved the day.

 She will plant these out as replacements for those she has lost.

To make her borders attractive Alys plans to plant out in drifts of colour and texture.

Alys plants beetroot

The beetroot is planted out from her modules and as the seed is a cluster there is often more than one plant germinated. 

She will thin these out later on when they have grown more so they don't strangle each other.

Late May is time to earth the potatoes to ensure a good crop is grown and this is just adding more compost to the leafy growth of the plant in a mound.

Potato plants

For the potatoes in the beds, Alys is using grass clippings from a neighbour instead of soil to earth up?

Alys says you can earth up with anything  as long as the light is excluded? I am not to sure about grass though? Pete Free 🌻

Alys likens it to using the no dig method of gardening to layer up the garden and the rest of the grass is composted.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a reliable cropper from mid summer and comes in a rainbow of colours.

Alys starts by planting out Ruby Chard which has pretty red stems and is eaten like spinach.

Rich moisture retentive soil ids needed for it to grow well, it will tolerate some shade and will crop until the first frosts.

With the British weather being unpredictable tough crops are needed like Brassicas to survive whatever weather we get.

Sprouting broccoli is a must for Alys as you can harvest not only the sprouts but the leaves and stem.

Alys got her plants at the car boot sale.

It won't be ready until January when there is nothing else still growing or ready in the garden.

Runner beans, sage and chives

Alys has planted them amongst her runner beans, sage and chives and will keep the sage cut back to stop it being swamped.

Alys is slotting in Kale all over the garden as this can be harvested from July to spring.

cabbage white butterfly

Brassicas attract pests that use the leaves for nesting including the cabbage white butterfly.

Alys plan is to hide them within herbs and other crops.


It is June and Alys is eating home grown produce, every day for lunch.

Cat on the roof

The chickens have stopped laying and are twitchy, a cat is the suspect and is under surveillance.

Rhubarb looks like a leafy green but you cant actually eat the leaves as they are poisonous and you need patience to grow it.

The first thing in her new vegetable garden was 4 crowns of prize rhubarb. 

Alys and her rhubard

Unfortunately you cannot pick it in the first year as it needs all its energy to go into the roots. 

Next year however she can pick away!

Alys and her husband love rhubarb especially in pies.

She is off to see George again at his allotment to take even more of his crops.

Luckily George doesn't like Rhubarb but does like growing things even if it is just to give away!

George has some amazing rhubarb, which he breaks off and trims the leaf off.

Mr Singh,

Mr Singh, his allotment neighbour demonstrates his growing dance and shows off some huge onions.

Back home Alys is making an American tradition, Rhubarb and strawberry pie but with her bumper crop of raspberries instead.

Sorry no recipe or Alys making it, just her eating it! Or a 'Nigella moment' Pete Free 🌻


The chickens are back laying. 

Alys is back in love with them and no mention of 'the pot' now.

Alys' Chicken

Alys feeds them weeds and the neighbours grass clippings and their poop is a very good compost activator. 

They are fun to sit and watch too.

The patio potatoes are ready to harvest, its like unwrapping a mystery Christmas present apparently.

Alys' patio potatoes

First Alys chops off the leafy top growth, then strangely tips them onto her nice clean patio. 

I would suggest some plastic down first! Pete Free 🌻

A small crop of potatoes are discovered, should she have left them for longer?

Potatoes from soil

Next it is the potatoes grown in the soil.

These reap a much better harvest, the potatoes are much bigger also. 

Swiss Chard

The Swiss Chard is growing well and needs regular picking of the larger leaves to encourage new growth.

The Ruby Chard, which is an old variety is bolting. 

Alys cuts out the flower spike to encourage it to keep growing new leaves.

Cavolo Nero

Next door is Cavolo Nero, Tuscan Black Kale, which is an handsome plant. 

This time its the inner young leaves you harvest, leaving the outer leaves.

Sauteed Cavolo nero with eggs

Last minute supper favourite and more 'Nigella eating shots' is sautéed Cavolo Nero with Alice and Gertrude's freshly laid eggs (scrambled).


Late Summer and the vegetables are harvesting at their upmost. 

Bucket of salad and edible flowers

Lunchtime salads are cucumbers, edible flowers and salad crops.

A new addition is Beetroot to the lunch time menu with her favourite being the cold Polish soup Chlodnik.

To make it you use baby beetroot, plus all their leaves.

Alys also has Dill and fresh Tarragon from the garden to use in the recipe.

All of he beetroot is cooked until soft and then liquidised.  

Beetroot is liquidised

She then adds Radishes, Cucumbers, Japanese bunching onions and Sorrell leaves all from the garden too.

Once its cool a carton of yoghurt is stirred in.

Alys says its her soup, (excluding Yogurt) grown from her garden and she is going to eat it! 

Nigella ummm eat your heart out Pete Free 🌻

Boiled eggs are added

Then she adds hard boiled eggs? Then cuts freshly baked bread!


Alys says her eclectic style of gardening is working well, her own style of polyculture.

Alys' garden is a wild mess

She describes the garden as a wild mess but it is giving her plenty of food every day to pick.

Alys system has also so far protected her purple sprouting Broccoli from the Cabbage White Butterfly and the pigeons.

Purple spouting broccoli

As the other crops die back Alys says she will need a bird scarer.

Claire, Emily and Debs are called in to help make something suitable.

Alys' friends help her make bird scarers

Abstract robotic hovering birds of prey to be precise?

There are no design plans, just that they are noisy and scare birds.

Bird scarers on poles

They are then stuck on poles in the garden to scare away, silently.


The garden is still productive if not as pretty and the Kale is cropping well still.

Aly's garden in November

Leeks, beetroot, celery, rocket and Swiss chard are all growing still.

The purple sprouting broccoli will continue throughout the Winter.

Alys is 'Brassica Happy'

All photographs are copyright of

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