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Pink Onions – finding Rosanna at another local market

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I’d never heard of pink onions but as part of my quest to ‘shop locally’ I visited another market in Leeds last weekend and made the discovery. Slightly different to The farmers market at Horsforth, Kirkstall Abbey deli market is actually set in the grounds of a 12th century Cistercian abbey and the stalls include everything from crafts to cheese.

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There was a large selection of produce based loosely around the local theme. I was happy to see Thistlemist Farm who I met at Horsforth last time and I restocked on their amazing soups! They use a combination of home grown and locally sourced farm veg and the soups are made in Leeds, which for me can’t get any more local.

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I was disappointed there were no vegetables for sale? Perhaps a deli market isn’t the place for veg even though the sign for the market kind of indicates there would be some? Never mind, I went to Horsforth market yesterday and did my ‘big shop’ there!  I’ll definitely be going back to Kirkstall though because markets are clearly the way forward and especially in such a lovely setting. Plus, if I visit Headlingley market next weekend that that will be 3 weeks in a row that I’ve managed a weekly shop at a market instead of a supermarket – result!

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One stall that immediately grabbed my attention was the Kirkstall allotment society. I took half a dozen ‘Rosanna’ onion seedlings. I was sold on the fact that they’re ‘not white, not red, they’re pink’. It was enough for me to become interested and then I googled Rosanna for more information when I got home.

Key’s of Lincolnshire describe the pink onion as having, “delicate pink-coloured outer skin and beautiful pink flesh and is exclusive to Key’s of Lincolnshire”. Then Tesco announced last year that they were the exclusive suppliers of this onion that had been grown in the Stour Valley on the Essex/Sussex border by Stourgarden. Exclusive hey, well not anymore.

They are still fairly elusive though with the only seed supplier I’ve found for Rosanna being Thompson & Morgan. I wish I’d bought more seedlings now and I’m very excited to see how they grow and taste. I’m keeping them in my greenhouse until they get considerably larger and will plant them out only when we’re frost free.

kirkstall_deli_market_5Loving the hop box bar!

Speaking of onions, I was hoping to plant my onion sets and potatoes out last weekend, the sun was shining but the ground was far too cold. It wouldn’t have damaged my veggies but they wouldn’t have started to grow, so instead I pottered around and I got my plastic poly tunnels out to start warming up the ground.

As I hoped, this weekend was just brilliant! The ground is warmer and I planted all my onion sets, one row of potatoes, some new perennials from my favourite local nursery B.Whiteley and continued sowing. Two full days of gardening right into the evenings and I’m feeling a few aches! As the saying goes, I’ll sleep tonight!

Have you planted your onions or potatoes out yet? How are your seedlings getting on? Have you had some spring-like weather?

Growing and going local – the journey begins

horsforth_honeyHorsforth Blossom Honey. Bill described his honey as being made by bees in his ‘own garden’.

A few weeks ago, disgruntled with not having my own crops to eat I set myself a challenge to buy more local produce. I want to be able to trace the source of my food. With my own harvest incredibly low at the minute I’m keen to buy veg from local suppliers who’ve put the effort in to grow their own.

Well, I’ve found it. Not just vegetables, I’ve found the lot. You name it, it’s being sold at a market about 2 miles away from me!

b_whitely_stall_horsforth_marketeggs_horsforth_marketAmazing eggs from Church View Farm

Running since October 2012 Horsforth farmers market takes place on the first Saturday of each month and it’s brilliant! All the sellers are local to Yorkshire and some are local to Horsforth itself.

I discovered that Leeds has a few farmers markets and to help me remember the dates I’ve popped a recurring ‘appointment’ into my outlook calendar.

I thought my challenge was going to be really tough. First off, I thought it would be difficult to source local suppliers and secondly, I thought it would be hard to fit the gathering of the local produce into my busy life, but it’s not.

oragnic_pantry_horsforth_market‘Proper fresh veg’ from The Organic Pantry

When I was growing up I enjoyed shopping on a Saturday morning in town with my mum. We’d visit the butchers, the bakers and the veg shop and she would chat to tons of people along the way. Now I’m the one chatting to the locals and having a great time. A morning at the market beats doing ‘a big shop’ at the supermarket hands down.

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The market also has a fair trade stall run by a really friendly bunch of people and I bought myself a Traidcraft version of nutella. Ok, so it might not be made in Yorkshire but I still know where it’s from and I know that my money goes to the people who made it.

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I was thrilled to meet Vicky from B. Whiteley Farm Shop who had a stall selling plants and veg. The farm is about 2 miles from my house in the opposite direction but I never knew they were there. They grow and sell veg, have their own hen eggs and also run a plant nursery.

I purchased my first rhubarb plant from Vicky’s stall and she gave me some top tips about not harvesting it for a couple of years and to plant it into some well fertilised soil. She also advised me against forcing the rhubarb because it weakens the plant, it’s better to just let it grow naturally and do its thing.

rhubarb_horsforth_marketraspberry_canes_b_whitely_horsforth_marketseed_potatoes_b_whitely_horsforth_marketGreat selection of plants and veg from Vicky at B. Whiteley Farm, she only brings the veg she’s grown herself.

I got some top tips from the apple juice stall about what I can mix with my apples and how to make an elder flower syrup and freeze it until I need it. My two favourite hobbies, gardening and eating are combined at the market.

apple_juice_horsforth_marketApple juices from Yorkshire Orchard

I read a cool article recently where the writer claims that Leeds has some great organic shops but they’re all rather ‘top secret’. I think this sums up how I feel about all that I’ve newly discovered, it’s been right on my doorstep all along but I just never knew about it.

I found all the produce at the market very reasonably priced and I just hope I’m in Leeds for the next one in April so I can go back for a natter and a re-stock.

Do you shop for local products? Do you find that it fits into your lifestyle?

Reasons to love Yorkshire – RHS Harlow Carr

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It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit RHS Harlow Carr – it’s always inspiring.

We took Adam’s parents for a stroll around on Saturday, it was their first visit and despite it being December 1st the gardens still looked amazing.

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It’s hard to choose a favourite part of Harlow Carr but the areas that inspire me the most are the ultra neat and well thought out vegetable plots, with their recycled plastic raised beds, willow edging and perfectly planted rows. How do they do that?

HarlowCarr_IMG_8174HarlowCarr_IMG_8172HarlowCarr_IMG_8161HarlowCarr_IMG_8158HarlowCarr_IMG_8156HarlowCarr_IMG_8165Adam’s Mum – Tina

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The alpine greenhouse is fascinating with an array of delicate plants in sunken pots inside and interesting troughs dotted around the outside. I always spend hours in the alpine zone and it sparked an idea to do an alpine advent on Instagram where I’ll be posting a different alpine each day.

A nice surprise was finding a new greenhouse. Check out the cool chilli and tiny apple decorations inside! The ideas coming out of this place are just endless.

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I highly recommend a visit to Harlow Carr. I just think these guys really know what they’re doing and I come away with new ideas and good intentions of planting my vegetables in perfect rows each time…but for some reason I just can’t quite get the look?!

Have you been to Harlow Carr or any of the other RHS gardens?

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Talk about matching greenhouse, cold frame, container and water butt envy!

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