Since she moved in a decade ago, Karen Baron has transformed the plot at her Clayton-le-Moors home into a kitchen garden which provides a vast range of fruit and vegetables.

But that’s not all she’s grown. She also now has a huge global social media following for the down-to-earth pictures and videos she posts of her garden.

From the beds, trees, greenhouse and poly tunnel she has installed, Karen now harvests (among trug-loads more) peas, tomatoes, courgettes, kale, lettuce, apples, plums, raspberries, strawberries and cherries, as well as a range of squashes and even melons.

Great British Life: Karen in her polytunnel where she has grown limes and melonsKaren in her polytunnel where she has grown limes and melons (Image: Karen Baron)

The seed for Karen’s love of gardening was sown when she was a young girl and helped her mother plant seeds in the conservatory of the family home. When she bought a place of her own, in 2000, she filled the back yard with pots of raspberries, strawberries and peas, and when she moved, the garden was a huge part of the home’s appeal.

The house has a wrap-around garden which extends to about two thirds of an acre. Karen has split it in two – one part is traditional, with lawn, beds and borders while the other is given over to growing fruit and vegetables.

‘Half of the garden is just for growing veg,’ she says. ‘I have a poly tunnel, a greenhouse and a veg patch as well as a raspberry forest and orchard with apples, plums and cherries.

Great British Life: Black beauty, the darkest tomatoes in the world Black beauty, the darkest tomatoes in the world (Image: Karen Baron)Great British Life: For the love of raspberriesFor the love of raspberries (Image: Karen Baron)

‘I just went at it full steam ahead because I wanted to grow fresh food for health reasons, and because it’s so much more convenient. I can just nip out whenever I want and I can pick the food we need. It’s all organic, there’s no plastic packaging and no travelling to a shop.

‘I try to just grow what we need but there is some excess because of the amount that’s lost to the slugs and snails. I do put some boxes together for my family and during the lockdowns I was growing more so that I could give some to food banks and I also gave seeds and pots of herbs to neighbours.

‘I grow a lot of things I can’t find in supermarkets, so we get a great range of fruit and vegetables – the range of tomatoes and squashes is massive, for example, and I’ve grown white aubergines, round yellow cucumbers, purple carrots, Japanese wine berries, limes and melons too.’

Great British Life: One of the unusual squashes Karen has grownOne of the unusual squashes Karen has grown (Image: Karen Baron)

And the 46-year-old graphi designer adds: ‘It has been great for my sons, too. They’re 17 and 14 now and they’ve always appreciated fresh, home-grown food and had that understanding of where food comes from. They have always got involved with planting and harvesting too and they have been a huge help this winter when I’ve been trying cut down a hedge, we’ve had some fun together with that.

‘Over winter I’ve not done much in the garden, I’ve just had a potter about and done some tidying up. In March and April it’s full-on planting – tomatoes, kale, broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce and whatever else. And in the summer I’ll be out there for a couple of hours a day.

‘I’m planning to plant a lot of flowers as well this year to create a traditional cottage garden where it has all been lawn, so I’ve been collecting thousands of seeds for that. The flowers will attract pollinators and insects – and it’ll save me having to spend so long mowing the grass, it can take a couple of hours.’

Great British Life: A range of radishesA range of radishes (Image: Karen Baron)Great British Life: Eat the rainbow: some of the colourful carrots to come from the plotEat the rainbow: some of the colourful carrots to come from the plot (Image: Karen Baron)

That project will be shared with Karen’s 40,000+ followers on Instagram where she posts pictures and videos of her successes and failures under the name Wellies and Waffles.

‘It started as a bit of fun and way I could document what I had done but it has grown and I now have followers all over the world,’ she says. ‘I want to show what can be grown in Lancashire and to inspire others to have a go.

‘I’m very down-to-earth and with my pictures and videos, I try to show that you don’t need specialist equipment to grow vegetables – you can use fruit punnets or yogurt pots.’

* Don’t miss Karen’s column starting next month in Lancashire Life, and follow her at

Top tip: ‘Some things need protection from squirrels. Sometimes I will use netting but I also use cayenne pepper from the kitchen – a sprinkle of that on the soil keeps them away.’

Great British Life: Karen's green and pleasant plot gives her more interesting vegetables than a supermarketKaren's green and pleasant plot gives her more interesting vegetables than a supermarket (Image: Karen Baron)Great British Life: She built beds and installed a greenhouse and polytunnelShe built beds and installed a greenhouse and polytunnel (Image: Karen Baron)