IT'S IN THE BLOOD
Kitchen Garden|August 2021
Regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time Bob Flowerdew is passionate about organic gardening. His unique approach to gardening has garnered him many followers over the years. Here he talks with Daniel Heighes
Daniel Heighes

Who first got you into gardening?

It’s in my blood I guess, even my family name is horticultural! Although addicted to reading, I also loved being outdoors, tending stock, and growing. As a child, I encountered the organic movement at its farm and Soil Association headquarters at Haughley, which lay only a few villages away. My influences early on were garden and natural science authors, particularly William Cobbett, who recommended personal trial and experiment, and Laurence Hills, founder of HDRA, now Garden Organic.

What is your veg heaven and hell?

Heaven has to be asparagus. For years I’ve selected from ‘Kidner’s Strain’ for female plants with huge-sized spears but other than that and a bit of weeding it grows itself and is so welcome early in the year.

Hell has to be new potatoes. I love these with super early crops in tubs undercover. I get the first meal at Easter, followed by more from tubs, then from the polytunnel border, before lifting the first outdoor crops. But the effort!

How have you adapted your gardening style over the years?

I am now for starting off more crops in small cells and pots and planting out rather than sowing in situ. Even though the latter gives better results the former is so much more reliable and allows for better weed control for longer. This fits in with the incorporation of weeds and green manures from mid-winter till spring under woven ground covering geotextiles, which can stay in place longer when planting not sowing.

One development is that I’ve always welcomed wildlife on every scale with the intention they would control each other, and for the fertility their proliferation engenders. I now strive to encourage these even more.

How is your garden at home laid out? And tell us about your double polytunnel?

I spent months planning on paper before commencing so that everything would be in the most suitable position, so I would have places most often visited closest to the kitchen and vice versa, and most importantly to have my veg beds (40 each 4 x15ft) exposed to full sun and aligned north/south. However, this is not a show garden but a laboratory, so some areas have changed many times.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM KITCHEN GARDENView All

PEAS PLEASE ME

Growing peas is a must for Rob Smith. Here’s his introduction to growing them, with top tips and some varieties you might like to try

7 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Boost your BUGS

Gardens that are alive with bugs – whether beetles or bees – are healthy, beautiful places to be. They’re also more productive. Benedict Vanheems shares some simple tips to give bugs a boost this autumn and beyond

8 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

FAMILY FYFE

Milly Fyfe lives on a farm in Northamptonshire with her two sons, Angus and Dougie, and husband Andrew. As well as tending to 100 suckler beef cows, 300 breeding ewes, 350ha of land for arable production plus chickens and pigs, the family also maintain a walled garden where they grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.

5 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

JUST ASK PIPPA!

After training as a botanist and gaining her MSc in Crop Protection, Pippa Greenwood spent 11 years in charge of the RHS Wisley plant pathology department. She is the author of countless best-selling books and is a long-standing voice on BBC 4 Gardeners’ Question Time. Here she talks with Daniel Heighes

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Turn Up The Heat For Melons

Nothing shouts summer like a home-grown melon, yet they can be a challenge to grow in the UK climate. All the more reason to have a go, says KG editor, Steve Ott

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Go Go Go october

It might not be the height of the growing season but Stephanie Hafferty is still very busy with garlic, green manures, mulching and making a new compost heap using pallets

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

POWER OF THE Pumpkin

Pumpkins are soon ready to harvest and with October 26 being National Pumpkin Day, Annabelle Padwick decided to focus on this autumnal beauty

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Flavourful Fruit For Creative Cooks

Much of fruit growing centres around the premise of eating the fruit fresh from the tree, but this month KG’s fruit expert David Patch turns his attention to fantastic flavours for the kitchen

5 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

OUR PLOTTEER OF THE MONTH

Last year we officially launched a competition to find 12 readers and their plots that would feature in Kitchen Garden magazine this year. Here we feature another of our talented winners

4 mins read
Kitchen Garden
September 2021

THE PILGRIM PLOTTERS

Martin Fish visits Boston in Lincolnshire, with its historic links to the Pilgrim Fathers, and finds a thriving community of growers with a concern for health and well-being at its core

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
September 2021