Why you should join the home-grown revolution  

A picture to show nearly ripe home-grown strawberries

Some home-grown strawberries ripening under the sun 

Growing your own vegetables and herbs has never been cooler.

Celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Sienna Miller and even American chat show queen, Oprah Winfrey are all at it.

And an increasing number of us are following suit and deciding to get dirty and start digging.

A staggering quarter of British adults now grow their own fruit and vegetables.

A recent Which? report revealed that the ‘green finger’ growth was largely due to people trying to save money while a third said they were growing veg for themselves in a bid to lead healthier life styles.

So what’s The Good Life attraction?

Well for a start there is the smug factor when you serve up a colourful salad that started out as tiny seeds in your garden.

Then there is the fact that you know exactly what pesticides they have been spray with. (Hopefully none)!

And for those of you with young children, there are many lessons to be learnt in the veggie patch – aside from trying to eat earth and worms.

And another reason to get digging is how it makes you feel.

Those with green fingers have long known that gardening is good for you, physically and mentally.

But now it has been proven scientifically. Researchers have found that digging the earth and pulling up weeds can lower blood pressure, increase brain activity and produce a general upbeat feeling.

Even just looking at vegetables and plants growing in your garden can give you a positive boost.

So for those of you who are not sure how to get growing – here are a few ideas.

If it’s fresh fruit and veg you’re after – totally hassle free – look no further than the East Lothian gem of the Walled Garden in Archerfield.

(see www.archerfieldwalledgarden.com)

The Deli has become mecca for foodies far and wide who enjoy its mantra of ‘Seasonality and Locality.’

There is a huge range of fresh produce on sale, including a selection of herbs picked to order from its extensive garden.

For those wanting to grab a bite to eat the menu has mouth watering dishes which include garden crudités, falafel, pitta bread, olives, humus and blushed tomato dip.

Work at the Walled Garden is currently being carried out to restore the raised beds first planted over 100 years ago.

To find out more have a look at a blog by the head gardener Erica Randall – just click on blog.

For those wanting to get down with the dirt but are short on space, a window box is the perfect place to plant some herbs.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has some top tips when it comes to starting your own window box here.


If you have a garden, why not turn one of the borders into raised beds to grow your favourite fruit and veg.

Gardening expert Charlie Dimmock shows you how to build your own on this YouTube clip.

For others with grander plans, how about trying to book a plot at your local allotment.

There really is no excuse not to join the green-finger revolution, so go on, get healthy and start growing.

Paul’s Yard stocks Pu Erh

Most of us interested in healthy living know that green tea is good for us.

However, a Chinese tea has now taken centre stage because it seems that drinking it actually helps you lose weight.

And the name of this fat busting hot beverage? – Pu Erh (pronounced Poo er).

It helps that the trendy tea appears to be popular with image conscious celebrities who are all swigging the hot brew, with Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow reported to be fans.

So what’s all the fuss? And do we believe the hype?

Well the science goes something like this:

Studies have shown that the tea actually suppresses fatty acid synthesis (FAS).

And the actual process of fat creation in your body (called lipogenesis) is actually impinged by the properties in this tea.

So it seems to reduce your body’s ability to make fat.

On top of that, the caffeine in Pu Erh triggers your body to secrete the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine which increases the mobilisation of stored fatty acids in fat cells.

Which means that your body can use up stored fat more easily.

There is even research to suggest that the tea can also help reduce your cholesterol levels.

However, it seems that the time you drink this fat-busting beverage is also important.

To help with weight loss reports suggest that you need to drink it an hour after a meal to maximise its benefits.

Trials in China have shown that three cups a day for a month can lower blood fats by up to 30%.

For weight loss, it is recommended to drink three cups a day for three months, then a cup a day for weight maintenance.

The even better news is that you don’t have to travel to the Yunnan Province in China, where it grows, to get some.

If you are lucky enough to live in East Lothian, you don’t even have to go to the bother of ordering it online because it’s available in a shop on North Berwick High Street.

Pop into Paul’s Yard and ask him for some Pu Erh – he’s got plenty for sale.

It’s available from his Howdah Tea and Coffee Company in the shop which also sells a great selection of freshly roasted coffee beans ground to size as well as specialist loose leaf teas from around the world.

So get brewing!



If you thought that eating five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day had health benefits – try munching eight – it will actually put a smile on your face.

No really, its true, new research has shown the more fruit and veg you eat, the happier you become.

Boffins at the University of Warwick made the discovery after looking at the psychological effects of eating more of the good stuff.

And they found that as well as reducing the risk of cancer and heart attacks, it boosted your mood too.

In fact, after studying more than 12,000 people, they concluded that people who went from eating no fruit or veg a day to consuming eight portions experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent from being unemployed to getting a job.

The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.

So the message really is, get eating.

An easy way of upping your intake of fruit and veg is through juicing and smoothies. That way you can sneak more of the healthy stuff into children’s diets and make sure you start the day with a glow.

A few smoothie ideas to get you started

Tropical Mango, Pineapple and Coconut Smoothie

1/2 Mango

Thick slice of pineapple (200 g)

1 mug coconut water (300 ml)

Handful cashew nuts

2 tablespoons coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime

Optional: handful of porridge oats

Peel the mango using and cut its flesh off the stone into the blender. 

Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy

Simple Banana and Spinach Smoothie

1 ripe banana, peeled

Big handful of spinach

2 Medjool dates, pitted

1 heaped teaspoon almond butter

1/2 mug cold water or almond milk (150 ml)

Place all the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.

Instant Frozen Berry Ice-cream

Works well as a post exercise Recovery Meal.

3 ingredients, 2 mins prep. Serves 4250g frozen mixed berries,
250 g full fat honey Greek yoghurt
1tbsp honey or agave syrup or maple syrup
Blend berries, yoghurt and honey in a blender for 20 seconds. That’s it!
Tip – if your blender is not very powerful allow berries to defrost for 10 mins first.