Urban Jungle, propagation, growing from seed, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed,
The Daily Dibber

Vegetable grower and Propagation Manager for Urban Jungle, UK

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Food For Thought

Like most good things it started with a sign.

Bumbling along the Suffolk countryside mid-summer early one morning on my way to work, Radio 6 blaring as usual I saw the sign ‘Coming Soon – Urban Jungle’. I was reminded of the time the owner delivered some banana plants to my shiny new garden room several years back. We chatted back then, and seemed to have a rapport.

By the time I arrived at work, my brain was fizzing. I am an utter seedaholic, probably better described as an extreme seed sower. Growing is what I do, but I had a job. A great job. In 2014 I had expanded into the highly addictive and competitive world of growing rare and heritage vegetables for a chef. It had been challenging, creative, exciting, and I was a better grower for having worked there. Recently though I had noticed an increasing feeling of slight boredom, I had achieved more than I was going to achieve.

My stomach did a little flip.

Fast forward about a week later, the owner Liz Browne and I surveyed each other cautiously. “Why not?” I boldly asked when we started discussing growing food. “I love a challenge” I stated. As the concept of home grown Café Jungle food set in, I realised I wasn’t the only one. Interesting.

“You will have a team” she said. “150,000 sale ready plants will need to be grown”. “Plants that are rarely available here in England”. “OK” I said blinking quite fast at this point. I went for a wander around the Norwich nursery, and checked out the wonderful bananas, palms, cannas, grasses, ferns, and bamboos. When I got home, I sat in my garden mulling it over and looked at the bananas, palms, cannas, grasses, ferns, and bamboos and chuckled to myself.

A week later we surveyed the empty field in Beccles. It was very big indeed. I resigned. Tears were shed (mainly by me).

Seeds were purchased. My long forgotten polytunnel at home needed to be weed free (they had reached the ceiling), until the polytunnel was erected at the Suffolk site these seeds would have to be sown at home.

So now vegetable seedlings and spreadsheets surround me, creative insomnia has returned. I have spent hours researching unfamiliar plants that I can barely spell, never mind pronounce. With a sense of rising excitement, I am focused and greatly looking forward to the next stage.

 

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