Vegan Scene

Vegan Scene @ May Cottage
March 15, 2011, 4:31 pm
Filed under: ethos/philosophy, gardening, health | Tags: ,


Many apologies for the delay in new postings on this weblog. There is so much going on here and I’m very excited about our new projects and opportunities.

I’ve got several updates in the coming weeks about delicious new foods and recipes we’ve been inspired by lately, as well as what we’re sowing; as the light and warmth come around again, it’s obviously time to get our hands in the soil!

Today, I want to share our proposal of opening our house to other vegans. We want to make it a living, breathing vegan community!

Daley and I have both stumbled upon unique career opportunities in London, which is 120 miles away from our current location. Unfortunately, these opportunities don’t seem to be cropping up locally at the moment, so we feel we’ve really got to move down into the city for an undisclosed period of time. I’ve been studying and certifying in naturopathic therapies, and have found work in a brilliant naturopathic clinic as a colonic hydrotherapist. Daley has found a gig as chef in vegan restaurant that specializes in raw food.

Rather than sell up and ship out, we want to keep our cottage going with the spirit of nonviolence and progression. We’d love our place to become a beacon and haven for like-minded individuals where projects can thrive, where it is feasible for vegans to join together in a residential community to spread awareness, grow and cook vegan food, and look after nonhumans that are in need of support.

We’re not doing this for profit, but rather out of a deep-seeded need to not revert this place back to the status quo simply because we can no longer be here.

To an extent, we’ll be sharing our lives with one another so this project needs to be based on trust, respect, and thorough vegan ideals.

If you’re interested in joining us or know someone in the UK that might be, check out our website for details.

Thanks all, and look out for more postings here very soon! We’ll take several big leaps of faith and sow many seeds in the coming months!

Home Sweet Home: May Cottage in Nottinghamshire, UK


No Wonder the Kale Isn’t Growing.
December 25, 2010, 7:34 pm
Filed under: ethos/philosophy, gardening

This is one of the coldest winters on record in the United Kingdom. An article published today on Sky News reports that,  “with the icy weather set to continue, the UK could be heading for one of its coldest winters since 1890.”

I was glad to bump into a gardening acquaintance from our village last night as we were grocery shopping. He said that all of his crops were dying in these uncharacteristically harsh conditions, just like mine! It may sound silly, but I’ve been feeling lately like I’ve let my garden down since many of the annual “winter hardies” started keeling over. The truth is, they are meant to forge on through the cold without any protection, but obviously The Big Freeze has been extremely crippling! Sad but true. I’m still interested to find out if they resume activity when a major thawing out occurs.

All of this leads me to speculate on the term “self-sustainability.” Because the kale (and chard, leeks, turnips, Brussels, lettuce, etc) won’t grow due to the weather, we are buying it from outside sources. But what if the big food giants were to cease existing? We’d need to be ready with preserved and stored foods. If we depended on the very land we lived to feed us, our lives and diets would be different. Our ideas of sustainability would need to be rooted much deeper. We’d need to grow more to store more, and we’d spend lots of our time with these activities. I often wonder about the rhythms and truths of that sort of existence; sometimes it seems strange to me that we are so far removed from that kind of reality.

snowed under
December 1, 2010, 7:53 pm
Filed under: gardening, recipes | Tags:

Today, I couldn’t get into the city to work. There’s about nine inches of snow on the ground…

…and on the kale, the broccoli, the turnips, the beet root, the roof of the greenhouse…

I don’t think anything is going to survive. We didn’t expect a blizzard and don’t have greenhouse heaters or clotches…so we’ll see what happens, but I think the plants are dying. We will have to take this as a lesson. We’ll need to figure out some sheltered growing conditions for next winter and in the meantime, I’ll keep thinking that maybe the snow will melt away soon and everything will rebound.

I’m  glad we got in a few crops of purple brussels before the major snow storm.

Hands down, the best way to cook brussels sprouts is roasted in the oven, after a coating of olive oil, freshly minced garlic, and salt!

useful flowers, part one
November 20, 2010, 10:30 pm
Filed under: gardening | Tags: , ,

We’ve discovered  that these dark and bitter evenings  are good times for detailing next year’s garden plan. What to grow and where to grow it are two subjects that require renewed attention from year to year. It’s productive and pleasant to spend a chilling night pouring over colorful books by firelight and jotting down occasional notes. Each season, as we learn more, observe more, and take on more responsibility and creativity, the crop is bigger and the garden’s physical boundary expands, but there’s always much to improve upon and new species to incorporate.

One thing we’ve learned is that veggie growing is compatible with flower growing. We need certain flowers, herbs, and veggies to attract a diverse range of pollinating and predatory insects, and to repel pests by means of scents and/or chemical composition.

I’m fascinated by the way we can take tiny seeds the size of pinheads and create an abundance of life, green foliage, wild colors, food, and habitation for other creatures. And at the end of the season, flowers give us  free seeds to grow again next year.

Here is the first installment of a series of posts that focus on the flowers Daley and I’ve had success with and that we’ll happily sow again. The posts won’t be continuous or in back-to-back episodes; instead the series’ll be a kind of on-going conversation, to be updated as the seasons go by and more flowers are grown and discovered. I’ll tag all of these related posts with the words ” useful flowers.”

Useful Flower 1: The Marigold

This flower has a long growing season, as it will start blooming in June and outlast many other flowers, well into autumn. It can be grown in partial or full sun. The earthy and cheerful Marigold is widely known for its nutritional and medicinal properties, but it also provides a few very important and interesting services for surrounding plants. The scent of the green foliage deters insects and the roots of the Marigold plant release a chemical that repels nematodes in the soil. They also attract hoverflies, whose larvae prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-harming species. Marigold flowers are excellent planted in the same bed as any consumable for this reason. I had a row of marigolds next to the climbing beans and another patch with the peas. Next year I will be sure to have many more of these growing.


Useful Flower 2: The Mesembryanthemum…mummumum


this is an unaltered photo of the loud mesembryanthemum basking in the sun

This is a wildly multi-colored plant that’s extremely vigorous and starts life as a very hardy, springy seedling. It is not likely to suffer from transplanting. It very much prefers full sun, and in fact, it closes its neon-colored heads during rainy weather and at night! It is pollinated by and attracts a variety of  beneficial insects. There is always a buzz of activity around the mesembryanthemums. I’d recommend growing this flower to a new gardener for its fast-growing and tough nature, loud colors, and peculiar contraction of the heads.

growing and juicing wheatgrass- without the special juicer!
October 30, 2010, 11:37 am
Filed under: gardening, health, recipes | Tags: ,

I don’t have one of those awesome specialized wheatgrass juicers, so for the past week I’ve wondered what to do with a mop of long wheatgrass growing in the green house. I’ve read that wheatgrass fiber is not digestible by humans, so I felt I couldn’t just lob it in the food processor whilst making a green smoothie. A dear friend came to visit this week and she has had extensive experience with wheatgrass at a raw food wellness centre in Puerto Rico; she even washed her eyes out with it! She offered up the perfect solution: put it in the processor, add water, and strain. She said the end product wouldn’t be as concentrated as the properly juiced stuff, but that there would still be a very nutritious and digestible liquid. Cool!

Yup, the strained wheatgrass/water mixture smells and tastes strong! it may not be as intense as wheatgrass that has been juiced properly, but we're now sat here drinking fresh wheatgrass goodness.

To grow the grass, we simply soaked the seeds overnight, spread them out atop some compost, and made sure the seeds were always hydrated. The seed germinated and grew quickly. I can tell that several servings will grow from this little tray!

the current state of things
October 24, 2010, 5:10 pm
Filed under: gardening

the greenhouse


cut and come again lettuce

mulch (aka our lawn clippings) in the bed just vacated by the climbing beans. there's a little strawberry patch and one lone leek at the end of the bed.

kale -in late October it has a long stalk from which leaves have already been harvested. the aphids left town along with the warmer weather, so there's a healthy crop to see us through the cold.

purple Brussel's sprouts looking like they're almost ready for their first harvest.


The first frost
September 30, 2010, 9:15 am
Filed under: gardening

Last night was the first light frost of the season. I’m wearing long johns and doubling up my socks. Winter doesn’t mess about in middle England, and summer doesn’t stick around for long at all. I anticipate we’ll need to light our first fire this week or next.

Several posts back, I explained that I began implementing a green smoothie breakfast, and I’ve stuck with it! My favorite smoothie, which serves 2, consists of two huge handfuls of Nero di Tuscana kale, a large mango, and half of a banana. The energy supplied from fresh, raw kale in the morning is impressive. As the cold sets in, I foresee frequent bowls of warm and stodgy steel cut oatmeal in favor of my tropical smoothies. Still, I’m really glad to have stumbled upon the potent green smoothie, and I know that it will be a friend for life.  Verily, it feels a bit odd to be drinking a blended mango while wearing double layered socks and noticing a slick, silvery lining of frost on the shed across the road…

As far as what’s growing on, I’m happy to report that we are still digging up potatoes from our own beds!! I didn’t expect them to last this long. We have not purchased white potatoes since early June!  Next to the potatoes, we’ve got some hardy turnips fast-developing, and our winter lettuce has already given us a few salads. The lettuce are fast growing and seem very comfortable in the protective green house, next to the multi-colored chili plants and young chard, parsley, and leek plants . The kale, broccoli, and Brussel’s sprouts aren’t doing horrible, but the aphids have made them all a bit shabby. The kale in particular is having a tough time- I end up with very few unspoiled leaves at the moment, despite the various tea-sprays I apply. As the weather continues to turn, I imagine the aphid population will die down and leave us alone!

We also have a patch of enchanting, seven foot tall bean stalks, bearing ripe Wisley Magic beans, which will continue producing until mid October:


The green ones are youngest. The flecks develop and become darker with age, and the flesh becomes tough and dry. We added the older, tougher beans to boiling water 5 or 10 minutes before adding the young ones, so that everything was thoroughly tender.