Lisa Lueaffat – Full interview

My Story

Last year was the first year I got an allotment bed to grow, and I went mad. I had about thirty something different varieties going in that one little plot.

Why I grow my own food

Once I started the garden, I had to buy very few vegetables and I’ve dropped ten kilos over the year. Sometimes I spend five to eight hours on my days off in the garden. So it’s one way to lose weight. I control what I actually eat. Even my doctor is saying my health is much better this year. I know there are no pesticides in it.

And cucumbers that come off the vine, that you’ve just picked, are so crunchy! The radishes last year didn’t make it out of the polytunnels because I ate them. They were delicious. Lovely, spicy, peppery. You don’t get that in the ones from the supermarket.

Why I save seeds

The seeds I save I know exactly what plant they come from. I’m not particularly fond of the hybrids and whatnot, because some of them, you’re not exactly sure what they’ve done to them. I like the heritage stuff. We have lost a lot of heritage varieties because people stopped growing them. With these commercial one, all they need is one thing and it’ll wipe out the whole lot. And there’s nothing saved, no backup.

Connection between growing and my heritage

My grandmother grew up in the country so they always planted their own food. They didn’t have money to buy stuff so everything was grown. They had a big garden, so their job as kids was to plant and take care of it. They saved their own seeds because they were too expensive to buy. When they opened a pumpkin they’d take all the seeds out and dry them. They saved the corn to grow the next year. They saved seeds from peas. They grew pigeon peas, black eye peas, red beans. What they were accustomed to eating they grew, and they saved the beans for the next year to grow. So they didn’t really buy much of anything.

How I feel when I work in the garden

Ah, relaxed. No pressure, no nothing. I just enjoy the fresh air, the insects, when anybody passes, I stop and talk to them, encourage them, show them what I’m doing.

Lisa on Pak Choi

Where the seeds came from

I got them from a Chinese friend. I put the pak choi seeds and they came up nicely.

How to grow

I planted them end of June. They took a long time to come up. It’s quicker if you soak them for a couple of days. The pod splits and when you see the little root coming out, then you put it into soil. It gives them quite a boost in growth time. Once you’ve sown them you can start harvesting the leaves within 6 weeks. You can harvest the whole plant after two months, when it is fully mature. Unless you want to get seeds.


They like warmth and water. They are water loving plants. If you don’t water them every other day, or every day if it’s very hot, they will wilt very quickly. The ones I grew in the greenhouse have grown much better than the ones outside. They like a bit of protection.

Slugs and snails love to eat the leaves because they are nice and succulent. So you have to be watching them all the time. I put petroleum jelly and pepper around the pot. The slugs and snails didn’t bother them after they went to seed.

How to save seeds

Pick the outer leaves, but leave the centre to flower. Don’t use the whole plant. Leave the flowers to turn to seed.


The stems are very crunchy and the leaves are soft. You can put it in rice. You can put it in vegetable stir fry. You can put it in soup. You can stuff it. One of my friends said she’d buy any excess off me because her kids just love pak choi. She makes a nice light soup. She just puts the whole thing in, and it wilts down and the children love it. It’s a really good vegetable.