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Growing advice from Instragram star ‘the good life ain’t easy’

30th January 2019

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Catch up on our social media takeover with ‘the good life ain’t easy’

On 29th January, Instagram star, blogger and keen allotmenteer Rachel Bull aka the good life ain’t easy took over Grow Your Own’s social media platforms! She shared with us her best tips for growing bumper crops and even managed to sneak in one of her famous chickens into our social media feed. You can catch up with all of this by scrolling down below!

Grow vertically

Hello! I’m so excited to be taking over the GYO account for the day. I thought I’d share some of my favourite vegetables and top growing tips - so I hope you enjoy them. The first thing I’d say is if you’re growing in a smaller space, don’t be afraid to grow vertically. Even if you have a huge allotment plot - is there anything more charming than an edible arch? Lots of crops can be trained to grow up. Squash, cucumbers and tomatoes are my favourites, plus beans will scramble up any support you give them. Courgettes will need tying in as they grow, but with a bit of encouragement you won’t be able to stop them adventuring up. Plus you can use the shade under any vertical frames to underplant any salads or leafy greens that might otherwise run to seed in the heat of the summer sun. Many fruit trees can be trained to save space as well.

Yellow raspberries

I love growing fruit and let’s face it, there’s nothing better than scoffing sweet homegrown raspberries as an afternoon garden snack. If, like me, you have some persistent pigeons who also want to share your crops then I’d recommend trying a yellow raspberry variety - we grow ‘all gold.’ I’ve found the birds leave it alone as they don’t think the berries are ripe, and we didn’t have to net it all summer! A thick layer of mulch in January helped protect plants from the cold in winter and also to retain water in the heat of summer. Plus the yellow berries were a particular favourite of any children who came to visit!

Lots of kale!

Nothing beats growing vegetables in the winter months. Seeing a splash of green on a dark January day never fails to bring a smile and I can’t recommend kale enough. We grow ours under a mesh frame to protect from pests and limit pesky white fly invasions, and I swear the leaves gets sweeter after a frost! Cavolo Nero is my favourite to grow, and I like whizzing it up with garlic into an easy pasta sauce. Other varieties I’d recommend include ‘red russian’ but you can’t beat classic curly kale either. We rub the raw leaves with a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil to soften them overnight. They make a lovely salad when softened, or as a base to which you can add other vegetables.

Winter squash

Winter squash are great to store through the darker months for when the ‘hungry gap’ occurs - and I’m always finding new varieties I want to grow. My top tip for growing them is feed, feed and then feed again. You can never underestimate how hungry (and thirsty!) those plants are. As we keep chickens we make our own organic mulch, but I’d recommend feeding the plants roughly every fortnight once the first fruits start to grow. For winter squashes, leave any fruits to ripen on the plant but don’t forget to bring them in before a frost. Crown Prince is always a popular variety, but this year I’m looking forward to trying Honey Boat after recommendations!

An upcycled plot

One of the most enjoyable things about having an allotment is finding ways to be creative and re-purpose items that otherwise end up as rubbish. This year we reused some cases from electric light fittings which were being thrown out - they worked perfectly as mini greenhouses, helping to warm up the soil and start off our seedlings. They’ll definitely be used again! Thanks for following my posts today, it’s been fun sharing my passion and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as me!

Want to see more from Rachel? Follow her Instagram account here.

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