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  1. Black is the new black ... when it comes to tea

    This year has seen a huge rise in people asking if I sell Black Teas … and sales of my Blue Lady Tea (an Earl Grey blend) went up. So I spent some time experimenting with different black teas and blends. Being in London earlier in the year helped, as there was a huge choice of quality teas readily available to buy and enjoy.

     blue lady tea blue lady t

  2. Since I started tradng, I have only dropped and spilled two of the big 1kg bags of wholesale herbs and spices that I buy .... the first was a bag of Turmeric powder (of course!) ... which produced a spectacular golden mushroom cloud that covered me and the entire contents of the boat in a yellow film .... the second was ... yes, you guessed ... a bag of Turmeric, organic this time .... so messy!!!

  3. So it seems that Lovage is enjoying a much deserved renaissance. I have seen a surge in sales lately of this big, hearty, robust herb, both in its dried form and as young plants through my sister business Alchemy Plants. Last winter in London. I spied trendy young hipsters sipping Bloody Marys through hollow Lovage stem straws, found young lovage leaves in restaurant salads and my Mother’s Day treat was a delicious meal out of roasted beets with Lovage pesto. lovage2 

  4. Despite years growing millions of seeds commercially when I had my little herb nursery, I still get a sense of amazement, awe and wonder at watching seeds germinate and grow. There is something immensely therapeutic and empowering about growing your own food, and that can prove difficult in a small space with no garden … like a boat or a flat. So this winter I have been playing around with MICROGREENS, the ultimate solution to gardening in a small space and a year round supply of fresh, immensely nutritious and tasty food.

     micro6 micro10 micro13

    Amaranth Red Army      Perilla and Basil                      Pea Shoots after watering

  5. When the celebrations are over, despite knowing that the days are slowly and surely getting longer, January can feel like a long hard month. The prospect of going back to work, body feeling sluggish and bloated, indigestion is your new best friend, liver ruined by excess partying and all those relatives bringing germs and viruses, along with their gifts, from far flung places, the NHS stretched beyond capacity and imploring us to stay away with minor ailments ....

  6. I will be trading at the Stoke Bruerne “Village at War” weekend on 10th and 11th September. This annual event looks back at the impact of the Second world War on life in an English village.  Several people have asked me what herbs have to do with war, particularly World War2, and are surprised to hear of the crucial role the humble herb played in our nation’s health and survival.

  7. The towpath in Staffordshire was full of Comfrey plants, and this year the flowers seemed especially blue … they vary from pale pink through sky-blue pink to almost electric blue. My foraging fingers went to work as this is a good tea herb. It is also a great addition to compost heaps and makes a good liquid plant food.

     comfrey

    Other blue flowered herbs that are worthy of attention at the moment are beautiful starry Borage flowers. Loved by bees, these edible flowers are a pretty addition to salads, with a mild cucumber flavour and absolutely essential to Pimm’s. It does grow wild; I have seen lots on the Macclesfield Canal but it is also easy to grow from seed. Borage can be a bit invasive in the garden and the hairs on the leaves are irritating to some people.

     borage

  8. Well, spring has sprung … though it doesn’t feel very spring like here in Lancashire. However, seeing all the new shoots, blossom and early daffodils means my thoughts have turned to planting seeds for the coming year. The Herb Boat roof doesn’t allow for much gardening, but it is amazing what you can achieve in a few pots and containers.