The Edible Jungle 2011
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

Well - drought or no drought we’ve planted the Edible Jungle. We  thought last year’s planting conditions were hostile but this year’s are  extreme. The tiny amount of rain this region has experienced in the last few  months has been so localized and has generally missed us in Old Costessey. So  it’s been a case of digging in the dust (quickly because the sides of the hole  cave in), sticking the plant in and watering like mad. We plant a section, turn  on the rotating sprinkler and move on to the next. We’ve lost a couple of plants  where the sprinkler didn’t quite reach but otherwise everything is growing away  quite nicely now. Hopefully the rains will come soon and we’ll be able to turn  off the hose.
The structure of the garden has remained unchanged (3 intersecting circles), but  we’ve planted differently this year. For a start there’s more veg than last year  including Sweet Peppers, Rainbow Chard, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Aubergines and  Lettuce in the beds. We’ve also planted Tuscany Black Kale but the pigeons have  pruned them (or perhaps it was the rabbits that evening when we went home and  forgot to close the gate). I think they’ll re-grow though. I hope so because we  grew them a couple of years ago and they were beautiful.

The Nymans lettuce looks as good as any ornamental foliage plant  I’ve ever seen. Its leaves are glossy and the deepest burgundy/black. I’m about  to sow some more so we’ll have replacements in case they go over, as no doubt  they will. Interestingly wildlife has so far steered clear of eating these…hmmm.  We also have Runner Beans and Mange tout against the fence but these really are  struggling with their limited ration of water. And climbing up the poles in the  centre of the garden are the gourds that looked so incredible last year. This  year they’ll be fighting it out with a grape vine.

Craig has made an African style planting bed of Colocasia  esculenta, to hold in the water as these love lots of moisture. This year I’m  determined to eat some. I’ve grown them for years but have yet to taste them!  How ridiculous. Also some Tamarillos – handsome looking plants but I’ve a  feeling we won’t be harvesting fruit from them. And not forgetting the  self-pollinating Kiwi which should eventually produce fruit, and Acca (pineapple  guava) which are flowering beautifully at present and will produce fruit this  year.

Acca - See the picture in Hi-Res.

Anyway, fruit and veg aside, the main difference this year is a  design one. Last year everything grew so huge, and was so tightly packed in  (‘hugger mugger style’ according to Bunny Guinness in the Telegraph; I don’t  think she was being derogatory), you couldn’t at times see the wood for the  trees. So whilst it will still be full of tall Musas, Gingers and Cannas we’ll  be sticking more to the oldest design principle of them all – Big things at the  back, little things at the front.
It’s just started raining!

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