Urban Jungle Newsletter

The Kitchen Garden Diaries; Top tips for creating your very own

12 January 2018 - Posted by Niamh Mullally, in Cafe Jungle, Propagation, NewsLetter

Propagation Manager Niamh has put pen to paper and designed a wonderful new Kitchen Garden as part of the Edible Jungle in Suffolk. The Kitchen Garden will not only provide our Norfolk and Suffolk Cafés with the most unusual and exciting produce, it'll also become a beautiful new feature for you to visit this summer.

Niamh's collated all of her darkest secrets, hints and tips for creating your own Kitchen Garden in the first of her Kitchen Garden Diary entries. Shhhhhhhhhh.....

Niamh Mullally, Propagation Manager

Grow what you want to eat.

This sounds obvious, but if no one likes courgettes then don’t grow them! You must be motivated in all weathers to tend to this garden. If you must convince people to eat the produce or it gets left behind on the plate, then really…what’s the point? Look at what you put in your trolley when you shop. Imagine how good you will feel knowing there were no food miles involved in your seasonal meals.

Start sowing vegetables from seed.

There are several reasons why this is good practice. It’s the only way to ensure your seedlings are chemical free, it’s not difficult to achieve and it's much more affordable. The other bonus is that you will have seeds left over for successive sowing. I recommend Franchi seeds for this as the quantities are always generous. As a rule of thumb sow the second tray of seeds as the first is being planted out. Don’t ever discard any seeds packets, if you haven’t the room to plant the seedlings grow the seeds as micro veg in a seed tray, these can be snipped when needed and added to salads. Broad bean seeds can also be grown for the tips which are delicious wilted with new potatoes. Peas too can be grown for their shoots, but both need to be protected from the appetites of the hungry spring mice that can squeeze through the smallest gap.

Broad Bean Shoots

Broad Bean Shoots

Don’t be afraid of unusual varieties.

A bean is a bean. However, a basket of green, yellow, and purple beans is a joy to harvest and cook with. Salad doesn’t just mean lettuce. When you select your seeds think taste, colour, and texture. In the winter this can easily be achieved by including some spinach and oriental leaves. These will bolt in the summer so the young tender leaves of ‘burnet’, ‘pink stemmed radish’ and ‘magenta chard' will add flavour and extra dimension to salads. Round courgettes seem to have a smaller water content and are perfect for sauteing.

Coloured beans

Coloured beans

Feed your soil.

Do this in advance of planting. I prefer to use a sea weed based fertilizer, but bone meal or blood fish and bone works equally well. If you are hopeful for harvests all year round, this should be done twice a year. March and September.

Embrace the straight lines!

It becomes incredibly satisfying to watch the vegetables mature in an orderly fashion and helps you with calculations for future crops. Achieving this requires some self-control. Never, ever plant all your seedlings from the tray. Hold back 30% so that any casualties can always be easily replaced. Another good reason to sow your own seeds.

A border or bed is not necessarily a flat planting space.

Its design is in your hands. A vertical screen can be used for beans, sweet peas, and small pumpkins. The shade created by this combination can be incredibly useful in the summer months. Lettuce, spinach, and some herbs will relish this.


Kale for instance has a planting space of 18 inches to two feet depending on the variety. Use this space wisely and have fun. Patterns of different tones of radicchio and lettuce are easy and are ideal as they thrive in semi shade and are low growing (remember don’t plant them all!), and will make you smile smugly when they mature.

Rainbow Chard and Endive

Under-planting Rainbow Chard with Endive Mix

Chard and Raddicio

Under-planting Chard with Radicchio

Incorporate soft and hard herbs into the design.

Parsley, basil, and coriander are good choices to start with. Rosemary grows well in a container that can be placed in the sunniest spot. Mint should only ever be grown in its own container so that you can control its tendency to become invasive. I always include a line of chives as these are bee friendly and perennial, the flowers can be used to make to a simple pink chive infused vinegar. All these herbs are easily grown from seed.

The planting distances are only a guide.

I have always planted a bit closer together than advised and have achieved bigger harvests as a result. It also means less weeds.

Incorporate flowers both ornamental and edibles.

Bees and butterflies will arrive, trust me you want this. The bonus of course is that you won’t have to make a dash to the local shop and pay for overpriced insipid bouquets when the need arises. Dahlias, sunflowers, nigella, and zinnias are all great cut flowers. The easiest and most reliable edible flowers are calendula ‘orange king’ and cornflower ‘blue boy’. Violas and pansies are essential for a continuous supply of edible flowers in the winter months. Sow these from seed every year, again ensuring they are chemical free.

Edible Flowers

Edible flowers

Learn the art of preserving gluts.

Pickling is a pretty simple process and the practice recently has leapt from its wartime ration like reputation to the ultimate in cool upcycling of home-grown gluts. Pickle bars are popping up in most cities. A pickled mild chilli for instance is a taste sensation, cutting through the heavy flavours of rich cheese and the inevitable fatty textures of some cured meats. Tomatoes can become chutney, ketchup or even be fermented. Radicchios and spring onions are also wonderful pickled and who doesn’t love a side dish of some home-made kimchi?



Be quirky.

Its your space and should reflect YOU. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your own personal idea of garden art. Whether it be a planted welly, an old mirror, or some home-made vintage bunting just have fun.

Invest in some evergreen architectural plants.

Artichokes or cardoons are easily grown in any soil and give height and structure. Angelica is a visually stunning plant but take care to remove its seedlings as it can become a thug. For the larger budget I would recommend a bay tree or two and for instant impact invest in a mature olive tree.

Olive trees

Olive trees

Install some seating.

This is where you will sink, feel proud and will reflect on your achievements. Put it in a shady sheltered spot so there will be no hurry to leave on a searing summer day. It will be a great place to sit and watch those happy butterflies.

Sketch it out.

If you have any unwanted rolls of wallpaper these are perfect turned inside-out to start mapping out your design. A roll of lining paper works too. Map out the beds with care, hopefully they will be overflowing with produce so the width of pathways is important to get right first time. A metre is the smallest width advisable, as you will need to be able to push a wheelbarrow around your plot.

Kitchen garden design

Suffolk Kitchen Garden Plan

Happy gardening!


Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the next instalment and visit the Cafés to sample some of the fabulous produce from the Edible Jungle already in use.

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Make your business a success in 2018, with plants...

08 January 2018 - Posted by Ustaine Millington, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk, NewsLetter, Norfolk

Why every office and workplace should keep houseplants...

Research shows they can have a huge impact on businesses. Not only do they make the environment more aesthetically pleasing for staff and clients, like pets they can help reduce stress levels and also create the perception of a cleaner, more wealthy environment.

What can they do for your business?

There are numerous health and performance benefits too. The air inside modern offices and buildings is loaded with pollutants; commonly known as ‘sick building syndrome’. It causes a host of poor health problems such as allergies, headaches and fatigue. Houseplants can purify the air, some are able to remove contaminants, produce oxygen and even help raise the humidity. A rise in humidity is beneficial as it reduces vulnerability to viral infections. These factors combined lead to increased concentration levels and greater productivity with reduced absenteeism. It's a no brainer.

Here's six of the best houseplants for your workplace environment.

1. Rhapsis excelsa (The Lady Palm)

This office favourite is an upright elegant palm with a look of bamboo about it. It's slow growing, easy to look after and very adaptable so ideal for interiors. It has air purifying qualities and has been shown to actively remove pollutants such as ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene, and carbon dioxide from the air.

Rhapsis excelsa The Lady Palm

2. Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

With an abundance of lance-shaped glossy leaves and white sail-like flowers this is one of the easiest to care for houseplants and dare we say it – tolerates a lot of abuse. It will tell you when its thirsty and will bounce right back when you give it a drink. It is one of the best to remove formaldehyde, benzene and certain volatile organic compounds that can be emitted by cleaning products. It also helps raise the humidity and produces oxygen.

3. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is easy to care for and has some amazing health benefits. A great plant for keeping near the kitchen in homes, restaurants and cafes. It's full of vitamins and amino acids, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and the sap is excellent for healing wounds and burns. In addition to that, it also removes formaldehyde from the air.

Aloe Vera

4. Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

The spider plant is tough and resilient. It likes to dry out between watering, to be pot-bound and is happiest in indirect bright light. It removes carbon monoxide and xylene, and also a solvent used in printing, making it a good all rounder for offices, homes and schools.

Spider Plant

5. Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii' (The Snake Plant)

An architectural and contemporary-looking plant, this undemanding workplace friend is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene. It also releases oxygen at night which helps improve sleep quality, not that we advocate sleeping at work of course.

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii' (The Snake Plant)

6. Monstera deliciosa

Easy to recognise, and best known for its huge jungle leaves, the Swiss Cheese Plant is forgiving and will flourish for decades on very little attention. It is one of the best all-rounders at improving air quality, removing formaldehyde and generating oxygen at night.

Monstera deliciosa Swiss Cheese Plant

For those of you who know Urban Jungle, you can now understand why our team are bursting with energy and never miss a day's work!

Visit Café Jungle in Norfolk and Suffolk and browse the indoor houseplants. Speak to us if you'd like some houseplants for your business.

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Celebrating Homegrown Salad, All Year Round.

21 December 2017 - Posted by Niamh Mullally, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk, NewsLetter, Norfolk

Propagation Manager Niamh Mullally talks us through her passion for salad. Not only does it taste good but there are some amazing health benefits too. Get an overview of the more common ingredients and most unusual additions and trends, all lovingly grown on-site in the Edible Jungle. We may be in the depths of winter, but good salad is worth celebrating all year round.

I love leaves. For years I have been covertly stroking all types of foliage. In retrospect it was only a matter of time before the world of stunning edible leaves seduced me.

To whet my appetite, a good salad should please my eyes, be texturally complex, flavoursome and nutritious.

It's good for you... Lettuce has a high-water content but its also high in iron, vitamin C and K, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Its good for your skin, hair and helps you have a good night’s sleep.

A good green salad has more than just lettuce. Any delicious edible leaf can and should be added. Chard, kale, and pac choi don’t have to reach maturity to contribute to the balance of flavours. Radish leaf gives a hint of pepper and seasonal pea shoots add sweetness.

To show you just how fabulous our salad selection is, our volunteer Sue had a fun morning getting up close and personal with some of our home-grown produce.

Salad Leaves

Oriental leaves this time of year feature heavily in the mix; tatsoi, mibuna and komatsuna are always reliable croppers. Textures can be layered by addling frilly mustards, chop suey leaves (edible chrysanthemum leaves) and land cress.  

Edible flowers whilst not flavoursome necessarily, add to the overall look and raise the spirits especially in the winter months. Adding flowers to salads goes back to the 15th century on these shores, the Victorians stopped it (miserable bunch, they have a lot to answer for) but thankfully it’s now nearly mainstream again.

Edible Flowers

So, this month we want to celebrate the beauty of the humble salad. The pretty intricacy of the individual salad leaf is rarely appreciated.

These 45 salad ingredients have been grown from seed on our Suffolk site and are harvested daily for Café Jungle. They are grown in a polytunnel without the use of chemicals. Sue and I hope you will agree their beauty is indeed worth celebrating.  

Niamh Mullally

P.S. Keep an eye out for the next blog in January 2018, documenting the creation of the Jungle's kitchen garden. Next year is set to be a busy one!

Book your table at Cafe Jungle Suffolk on 01502 559103 and at Café Jungle Norfolk on 01603 857196

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Houseplants; Five of the best...

11 December 2017 - Posted by Uhi Millington, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk, NewsLetter, Norfolk

This winter, both Cafe Jungle Norfolk and Suffolk and bursting at the seams with the most beautiful plants for the home. 

For the perfect Christmas gift, an alternative leafy number to the traditional Christmas tree, to add some extra oxygen to your home whilst you spend the cold days and nights snuggled up indoors, or simply as a treat to yourself; this fabulous five will make you very happy indeed.

Monstera deliciosa

Instantly recognisable by its huge, cut, glossy leaves and commonly known as the Swiss Cheese Plant, this is a long-term favourite and with good reason; it's so forgiving, even complete novices will struggle to fail. Monstera deliciosa is a climbing plant so will eventually need support; moss poles look superb and are ideal for this purpose. Monstera thrive in gentle sunlight and gloomy corners and requires watering weekly, the compost should be moist but not wet, and it can dry out between waterings. 

Ceropegia woodii

Call them String of Hearts, Rosary Plant or Hearts Entangled; whatever the name this charming vine is an absolute delight. The small, heart-shaped metallic leaves with silvery markings and purple undersides look as if they have been daintily threaded along strings which can trail up to 1.5m. What's more, its really easy to care for. They thrive in full to partial light and like to be doused with tepid water and left to completely dry out before the next watering, so no need to worry if you forget it for a while. They look fantastic in a hanging pot or on a high shelf.

Senecio Rowleyanus

Commonly known as String of Pearls, this curious but lovely trailing succulent is exactly as it sounds. Round succulent leaves shaped like peas descend on flexible stems which can reach lengths of 1m. They thrive in bright to medium light and they like to be kept just moist during the growing season with occasional watering in autumn and winter. Its an excellent specimen for a hanging pot near a window, where they will be the envy of everyone who passes by.

Chamaeodorea elegans

The Parlour palm has been a favourite in our homes for the last century. Don't be fooled by it's feathery looking foliage it is tough and robust and can get by on little care and attention, but still it will continue to be graceful and elegant. It's slow growing but will eventually get to 1m and likes a moderately light position but will also thrive in a dark corner, its the perfect housemate!

Sanseveria laurentii

Snake plant or Mother in laws tongue, this easy to care for houseplant is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and it is the perfect accessory in modern homes. Its clumps of long sword-shaped leaves are erect and sculptural. It can deal with cool temperatures and low light levels, requires little water and best of all it is generous. Sanseverias are one of the highest oxygenating plants to have in the home.


Find out more about Urban Jungle Norfolk and Suffolk. Contact us to check our stock and availability.

View Comments 1 Comments
Share Post   

Keep Your Tree For Longer This Christmas

01 December 2017 - Posted by Rachel, in Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk, NewsLetter, Norfolk

Ok, it's officially time to consider a very special houseplant purchase. This houseplant has just a few weeks to shine, to fill your home or workplace with beautiful seasonal scents, and to add the finishing touch to festivities. This is the guest of honour for all of your celebrations this Christmas.

Pick the perfect tree and look after your new housemate with Urban Jungle.

5 Steps to the Perfect Christmas Tree

1. Chose the right tree from the very beginning

Firs have softer tips to the needles, helping to make Christmas much safer for children and animals. You can check the freshness too – fir needles should snap whilst fresh pines will bend and not break. Gently tap the tree on the ground, if just a few needles fall it's perfect. There should be an even colour throughout too.

2. Think about your trees previous life

Buy from a local farm and save on pollution and miles whilst giving a fair portion of the farmers hard earned cash, back to where it belongs. Our Nordmann Firs were grown in Norfolk, just a few miles down the road.

3. A fresh cut really counts

You'll need to make a fresh cut of about an inch off the bottom of the trunk as soon as you can, just before setting into place. The tree will absorb more water this way which will help to keep the colour ad the needles.

4. Your tree likes a drink at Christmas too!

Nursery Manager Kerri tells us that your Christmas Tree is like a big bunch of flowers. Keep topping up the water throughout the season. This is really important - you might even need to top up 2 or 3 times in the first few days.

5. Keep it cool

Houses can get very warm this time of year and with log burners and real fires roaring too, your tree can easily lose its Christmas cheer. Try to keep your tree away from sources of heat as much as possible.

Trees at Urban Jungle are on sale now from £32.50, these are locally grown, premium quality, non-drop trees. We also have a beautiful range of decorations, baubles and gifts at Urban Jungle Suffolk.

Find out more 

View Comments 0 Comments
Share Post   

Page  <1234...6>

Back to Top