inspiration overload: alys fowler from the edible garden…
Posted in DIY, food, hunter gatherer, nature April 28th, 2010 by pia

This past month, I’ve been glued to BBC 2 every Wednesday night, blissfully absorbed in Alys Fowler’s world as shown in The Edible Garden. Each episode, Alys demonstrates through polyculture how she grows various fruit, vegetables and edible flowers in her small city back garden, with the aim to not only avoid shop-bought fruit and vegetables so she and her husband can live off their home-grown produce but also create a beautiful, inspiring garden. The misfortunes and mistakes are not edited, and her style is perfectly imperfect. In tonight’s episode, she planted strawberries, raspberries and blueberries; picked apples to make delicious apple rings; concocted a lip-smacking fruit infused vodka with friends; made gorgeous hapa-zome fabric lid covers for jam pots; and introduced a friend who lives in Bristol and forages for plums and berries in her local environment. Last week she focused on root vegetables, the week before, salads – each episode packed with extras.

While I have no soil patches on-shore or on-deck of my little boat home, I’m completely re-inspired to pot up some edibles again. I love walking passed the on-shore gardens belonging to the houseboats (also love spotting the adorable newcomers) along the Amstel, they never cease to inspire me as most of them are filled with wild flowers, tulips and untamed bushes. There is one that even has chickens.

Also, I’ve been reading up a lot lately on suburban foraging (a couple of episodes ago, Alys made dandelion fritters from foraged dandelions and I’d love to try it!) but really don’t know enough about northern hemisphere wild foods, nor the protocol for foraging here in The Netherlands. Plus, I have no idea where to go. I would love to have the courage to forage but I think it would take a series of workshops and guided tours before I got out there myself.

Anyway, Alys Fowler– wonderfully inspiring, just as much as Ray. Even though you can’t replay the episodes on bbc iplayer unless you’re in the UK, it’s worth reading the episode details and even better, buy Alys’ book. I haven’t got it myself but I’m sure it’s awesome.


PS I just remembered this photo of me in the garden in vancouver island, rather fitting for this post…

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  1. Kate says

    This looks great! Im not sure how it escaped me. I will watch it now. Thank you!

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  2. katiecrackernuts says

    Wow, hope it makes its way Down Under. I have been told I just have to watch Costa’s Gardening Adventures, screening here on SBS. Everyone I know who knows I love my plot keeps telling me so.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  3. Tuulikki Titine says

    How cute those ducklings…my sister had a mother duck and 9 little ducklings on her boat roof (in amsterdam) living in a planter box until they were ready to explore the world. The jump from the boatroof to the water seemed to scare them and as mother duck was already in the water my sister and a friendly neighbour helped the little ducks on their way. Could they be the same ducks? because the funny thing is that last year mother duck was on the boat as well and when she and her then ducklings were waddling around in the water one duckling was left behind. My sister put it in her bike basket and cycled to the other side of the canal to re-unite it with it’s brothers and sisters. Great duck adventures in Amsterdam.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  4. Naomi says

    Oh, I would love to have a garden some day…I imagine that it’s a very satisfying feeling to cook meals from things that you’ve watched grow in your own back yard ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, a non sequitur: I heard this song on the radio the other day and was absolutely enchanted. It made me think of rainy days inside with tea, which suddenly reminded me of your post on the sound of the rain outside your houseboat, which then also reminded me of the clips of your own piano playing that you’ve posted….so I thought that I would pass this on to you, thinking that you might enjoy it too:


    April 29th, 2010 | #

  5. Walter Helena Photography says

    Oh queens of gardening; delicious. I just planted herbs in pots on the terrace of my rented apartment and felt victory. One day: subsist completely from home-grown produce and smile contstantly.

    If youโ€™d like, please drop by my blog for a chance to win a fine art giclee reproduction of one of my prints โ˜บ

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  6. Jen says

    I have her book ‘the thrifty gardener’ and it’s excellent. I’ll look forward to seeing her other books and shows, thanks for the tip-off.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  7. danica says

    this post really resonated with me as i started my own edible garden a few months ago. i’ve killed the coriander (perhaps with too much love), but my other bits and pieces are doing well. i’m definitely going to track down her book!

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  8. Kirsten says

    I am so in love with The Edible Garden. It’s like a cup of hot cocoa and a slice of hot apple pie. (I found you whilst googling Alys’s name!) I live in California so no one I know can watch the show. (I download it.)

    My garden is growing nicely. I have lots of sun here in California. My Strawberries are already very sweet. Oh, and I can see my first two little green tomatoes growing.

    Your blog is lovely. We have really good taste. Very close to mine!

    Contact me anytime!

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  9. Angela says

    such green initiative! it inspires me to make some greens grow here in the city too…

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  10. mika says

    i bought cucumber, basil, beans and dill seeds and am going to dig into the ground this year!i’ve been living near Breda and in the NL) since February and i really love this country:)

    Bunch of greets from your Rss reader:)

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  11. pygmy says

    Wow, this looks like a great show! I don’t think it will make it to Kenya. Such a Shame. But thanks for the link to the episode details.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  12. Rossana says

    Yes it is a fab programe. I have also been following the it and feel very inspired!

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  13. Kimberly says

    I love this post Pia! I will search our BBC America station to see if we get it. She sounds so inspiring~
    My husband is in Amsterdam next week and if he was “cooler” than he is, he would come find your boat and take a photo – in a perfect world you would be in the photo- as a gift for me! I hope you are having more sun and warmth than we are here in Seattle. Having been in BC you are well aware of how fleeting sun can be this time of year… I have a feeling your potted plants will do better than my huge gardens due do our lack of sunshine~
    Have a fabulous rest of your week,

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  14. Tara Bradford says

    You would love being in Jordan, where they forage for dandelion and all sorts of things from the land, then cook them. Alas, that BBC program isn’t showing in France. I keep meaning to email you to say your photo is in the portrait section of my new photography website. Hope to take an actual portrait of you when next I’m in Amsterdam. ๐Ÿ™‚

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  15. Lara says

    Last summer I bought Alys’ book “Garden Anywhere” and was instantly smitten. She is SO charming on paper, I can’t imagine how irresistible she must be on the BBC! I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a US version…fingers crossed.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  16. sammy & glenn says

    isn’t she great – we love alys, we mentioned her a little while ago on our blog … love the way she seems completely absorbed in her own little world. we are a little obsessed with gardening too, we have seed trays all over our house right now and are trying to work in our veggie garden every evening at the moment, weather permitting.

    we have been growing veg and herbs and flowers and fruit for ages now but still have so much to learn and alys has some great tips on the edible garden, we love the show.

    lovely post pia – glad you are enjoying the show as much as we are.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  17. pia says

    Tara – beautiful new website! I love seeing all your images together. Thanks for letting me know I’m in there – funny seeing that photo again, makes me laugh – obviously your husband must be very funny! Or I’m just a raving loony. Yes you are absolutely welcome to come and take a portait when you are here – I hope you will be here in June? The official booklaunch will be June 5th at ABC – perfect for photo opps!!xx

    Kimberly – haha! he might just stumble upon me/my boat, you never know. Yes, the good ol’ fleeting sun of the upper west coast, I know it well! thanks for your fab comment.

    rossana – glad to hear it!

    pygmy – no worries, I hope you get it in Kenya, somehow, some way!

    mika – greetings! and happy planting.

    angela – great! we should all try to greenify our city surrounds (I’m tempted to through wildflower seeds on every bare patch of soil that I see!)

    Kirsten – totally agree. I want nobody and nothing to disturb me while I watch it so I can be completely absorbed.

    danica – great!

    jen – thanks for letting me know, I saw that other book and wodnered about it, your recommendation is noted!

    walter helena – perfect. Thank yu for letting me know about your competition!

    naomi – ditto. I’ll check out this link pronto.

    Tuulikki Titine – LOVE your duckling story, thank you!!!

    katiecrackernuts – yes I think you will really love this show. I’ve not watched costas!

    kate – catch up on all the episodes if you can, they’re all awesome.

    April 29th, 2010 | #

  18. Brooke says

    So great! Have you ever read The 3,000 Mile Garden? About a gardener in Maine and a gardener in London who write letters back and forth about gardens, life, recipes: a book full of wonderful and humorous stories and tidbits.

    April 30th, 2010 | #

  19. Ann Flowers says

    Being a great lover of garden art, I enjoyed going through your blog. Keep on posting.

    April 30th, 2010 | #

  20. Marte Marie Forsberg says

    I am head over heels inspired:)
    I have planted tomatoes in terracotta potts on the terrace, and cant wait to go home to my mothers garden in May.
    Thank you for this lovely post.

    May 2nd, 2010 | #

  21. woolf says

    yes, those series were quite something, if only it was preceeding sophie dahl’s wanderings through the kitchen… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    May 2nd, 2010 | #


    I just got the book from, it’s brilliant, a real inspiration and have just planted tomatoes, lettuce, chilli peppers and herbs. Fingers crossed !!!!

    I have just found your website and LOVE IT. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 2nd, 2010 | #

  23. Aron says

    After our boarding pass on Prรชt ร  Voyager I thought Iโ€™d check out the other bloggers featured before us. I came across your blog and thought–hey, I already know this one! Nice to unexpectedly bump into you again. ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 2nd, 2010 | #


    You can also get the book from The Book and it’s free worldwide shipping

    May 2nd, 2010 | #

  25. Professor Hex says

    The BBC ramped up their WWIII preparation programming this year with shows like The Edible Garden, Grow Your own Drugs, and the Ministry of Food. Very similar to the BBC circa WWII.

    July 3rd, 2010 | #

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