A gift of ‘something to look forward to’

This time of year can be bleak for many gardeners. For those of us who prefer experiences over stuff, or who are maybe a bit jaded with their own gardens and could do with some new inspiration, or maybe are ‘isolated’ gardeners who’d benefit from enticing out to meet some encouraging people, a ‘kitchen garden’ course would make a great gift… sometimes we all need a dangling carrot rather than a stick and a gift of ‘something to look forward to’ could be just the thing…

Click any of the photos below to go to the relevant website for more details:

Padstow Kitchen Garden: £65 Day Course June, July, Aug:

“This fabulous course is restricted to just 12 people to ensure each participant receives a thorough understanding of how to create a kitchen garden (See list above).
Amidst the outstandingly beautiful Trerethern Farm on the North Coast of Cornwall, lies Padstow Kitchen Garden: 4 acres of land nourished, nurtured and tended-to by 6th generation farmer and former Stein’s head-chef, Ross Geach. Ross writes a monthly column in the gardening section of the Telegraph, appears monthly on Radio Cornwall’s Gardenline and was featured on Countryfile.”

River Cottage: Get Growing Day Course £145 April, May, June. Gift vouchers available and redeemable towards any of their courses

“At River Cottage, we don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that growing your own fruit and veg has the power to change your life. On our fun, educational one-day Get Growing course, our green-fingered head gardener Will Livingstone will teach you a comprehensive range of skills and techniques to get the most out of your space, whether that is a balcony, a courtyard or acres of beautiful land.

Based in the famous kitchen garden at River Cottage HQ, the course will draw on our idyllic location to show you the joys of growing (and eating) seasonal and organic vegetables. The group size is kept deliberately small and there will be plenty of opportunities to explore and ask questions, leaving you brimming with inspiration and practical knowledge”.

Patrick Whitfield Permaculture Courses, Spring or Summer weekend, £135, or both for £240 or Introduction to Permaculture Weekend £150

“The March course will cover: seasons in the gardener’s year, crop planning, jobs to do in winter and spring, permaculture methods which will help you create a more productive garden, soil care, testing and profiling, different kinds of composting and mulching, no-dig methods, crop planning to produce food all year round and how to observe and work with the different microclimates in your garden.

The June course will cover: seasons in the gardener’s year, jobs to do in summer and autumn, what to grow – advice on how to choose annual and perennial vegetables to cultivate, how to plan your mixed vegetable crop (to maximise space, deter pests, minimise weeding and watering), Forest Gardening, pest management, growing fruit trees (understanding rootstocks and fertilisation), making plant feed, guidance on how to store and preserve produce and energy saving tips for harvesting.”

Year Round Veg Courses with Sarah Raven Day price £165 (online gift vouchers)

“For those who want to grow their own veg not just in the summer, but all year round.

This course is based on my veg growing philosophy – don’t grow everything, but spend your precious time and use your precious space with the highly productive, long-season crops, which will give you delicious things to eat without taking over your life.

I will give my recommendations of what to grow and how best to do it, with successful time-saving techniques and successional sowing plans to give you year round veg.”

Mark Diacono’s Otter Farm: Grow Your Own:Herbs & Spices Day Course £190

“A day exploring the transformers – the flavours that everything else dress up in.

If you grow only one thing for your kitchen, let it be herbs. Even a few pots of well-chosen herbs can alter every meal you eat, turning a good meal into a great one. Add to that a few well-chosen spices you can grow yourself, and your meals will never be the same again.

The day is a celebration of herbs and spices, focusing on how to sow, buy, grow, pick, store and preserve to get the best out of them in the kitchen.

This course is part of our Grow Your Own three-day intensive, which also includes Grow Your Own: Veg Patch and Grow Your Own: A Taste of the Unexpected.”

Arne Maynard: A day course making your own Hazel Plant Supports £160 including materials, lunch, refreshments

“The herbaceous plant supports and kitchen garden structures at Allt-y-bela are re-invented every year. We aim to pass on some of our familiarity with the key materials, which are hazel and willow for us, and to instruct you in some basic techniques and structures. This knowledge will allow you to form plant supports designed to disappear beneath the rapid growth, or forming more architectural elements such as arches and screens which are deigned to be seen. After some inspiration and instruction, the day will be devoted to a practical workshop trying out these techniques for yourself, creating self-supporting structures to be transported back to your own gardens at the end of the day.”

And for those who can’t get to these courses, or would prefer something to dig in and out of over the year, why not give them an online course instead:

Charles Dowding’s Easy No Dig Online Course £75 

“The course has 40 videos of one to two minutes each on all aspects of starting and growing. On each page I have written new text and posted photos to explain the best methods. In the videos you can see the beautiful simplicity of growing without digging, using mulches and how this helps our plants while reducing weed growth.”

Charles Dowding also does Day and weekend Courses at his home in Somerset.

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