Absolutely! It’s good for the soul, great for the mind and I can’t think of a better way of improving the waistline than digging over a vegetable plot. (Other than eating less of course)
But for me the most amazing part of growing your own fruit and veg has to be the harvest.
Just imagine for a moment, it’s a warm summers evening in July and you’ve a few slices of tasty locally cured ham accompanied by a few new potatoes on the side, English of course. A feast fit for a king that needs a handful of lush freshly picked lettuce leaves and maybe a sprig of fresh mint to add a little zing. Sounds too good be true … But it’s closer than you think!
I found out an amazing fact the other day. In the latter stages of the second world war home grown vegetables accounted for over 40% of all the vegetables consumed in the UK.
Why mention it?
Well, other than it being an extraordinary example of people power in the face of extreme adversity I really believe there will come a time in the not too distant future when the great British public will once again grow the majority of their own vegetables. It stands to reason. More young people than ever are turning to gardening and more specifically are growing there own vegetables.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone utilised a small corner of their garden to grow a few vegetables of their own and we didn’t rely so heavily on foreign imports. Pipe dream maybe, but I really think we are on the tipping point of a sea change in this country and we are all definitely in favour!
… but how do I get started growing my own vegetables?
Best advice is jump right in and have a go. You don’t need masses of space. Anyone can grow a few veg in plant pots, boxes or pretty much anything that will hold enough soil.
I’ve seen someone growing early Nantes carrots in an old pair of wellingtons! You don’t need any special equipment to get started, just the desire to make it happen. I’m lucky as we have a fairly large garden but not so long ago I was growing my veg in raised beds. They’re really easy to make with just a few basic diy skills and a few planks of 6in by 1in treated timber. Locate it close to the house if you can as it’s not so far to walk when it comes time to harvest and it’s easier to manage. You can always add more as your confidence grows.
What should I grow?
That’s an easy one … grow what you like to eat. Sounds obvious but when I first start growing veg I grew far too much and ended up wasting half of it.
My advice is start with a few simple root vegetables like radish, carrot and maybe a couple rows of beetroot. Also make room for a couple of rows of lettuce. The varieties really depend on your personal taste, so if you’re not sure try looking at a few cook books, or look up a few of the popular chefs on the web.
I particularly like what Raymond Blanc is doing at Le Manoir in the Cotswolds with his restored kitchen garden.
These are a few of my favourites:
Tom Thumb – Perfectly formed little heads of gorgeousness
Lollorosso – Cut and come again lettuce that will keep producing as long as you keep cutting.
Rocket – Peppery leaves that will give any salad a real kick.
Raddichio – Fresh, Crisp and slightly bitter leave that will add a wonderful deep mauve colour to your salad. Maybe not one for the beginner though as it has a tendency to run to seed.
If you’ve never considered growing your own vegetables I urge you to give it a try. You don’t need a huge garden and can start with a few packets of seeds and a little 4ft by 4ft raised bed. And all this for an investment of less than £20!
If twenty pounds sounds a lot check out how much for a bag of salad at the supermarket and I’m sure you’ll agree it is definitely worth having a go at growing at few salad varieties.
Next time I’ll share at few ideas around how you can extend your vegetable patch to grow a few slightly more ‘exotic goodies’.