IF you don’t already grow your own veg, now is the time to convert – and you could be reaping the benefit by October – or even sooner.
In the past, it was widely accepted and widely practised. If you had a bit of garden or an allotment in then you would almost certainly have grown some of your own food.
What goes around comes around – it was a necessity for people back then has now become a trend that is increasingly important in times of austerity. When you sow your first beans or plant out your potatoes you are joining a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of civilisation.
And once you’ve tasted your own home-grown produce, supermarket vegetables come a very poor second.
MAKE THE SPACE
One of the major drawbacks many of us envisage is not having enough space to accommodate anything worth growing or eating.
Even a tiny patch, managed imaginatively, can provide fresh vegetables throughout the year. So whatever the size of your garden – and even if you don’t have a garden – growing your own is a viable option.
The more limited your space, the more important it is to grow the vegetables you like best. So make a list of your favourites, work out how they could grow together and get sowing.
FIND THE TIME
Most of us have busy lives and may have misgivings about how much time our vegetables are going to need. But the hard work is in setting up the plot – and you can think of that as great post-Christmas exercise. After that, it should be plain sailing.
There are very few fussy crops, most of the time it’s a question of raking the soil, sowing seed and keeping the plot watered and weeded.
Spring tends to be busiest although, if you are growing successionally there will be veg to sow and transplant all season.
Sometimes, working out a plan takes as much time as executing it.
Try to fit the size of the area under cultivation to the time you have. There is no point taking on a huge space, full of perennial weeds, if you have only a — couple of hours each weekend to knock it into shape. Vegetables don’t need much fussing over, but they do need consistent attention – half-an-hour after work each day should be enough. You’ll probably find yourself still there much later, though. Growing veg is moreish.
enjoy the rewards When you are beginning, success is all important, so concentrate on easy crops that will give you rich rewards, such as runner beans and courgettes, onions from sets, salads and potatoes. Delay setting up an asparagus bed or growing dwarf French beans, cauliflowers or fennel if you feel a bit diffident.
Any sort of gardening is good for you: it’s physically active, all fresh air and freedom. But as well as the exercise, it is therapeutic in other ways.
Dealing with the soil, plunging your hands into it and enabling seed to grow into mature plants that you can then harvest and eat, has to be one of the most rewarding activities.
Growing your own is good for the soul – it’s real. What’s more, if you grow organically, the vegetables you harvest are as nutritious as they could be, packed full of vitamins and minerals, bursting with goodness and absolutely fresh.
GOLDEN RULES OF GROW YOUR OWN
1. Look after your soil – put back what you take out.
2. Concentrate on growing what you like to eat.
3. Sow successionally to avoid gluts and ensure constant supply.
4. Pick vegetables while they are young and in their prime.
5. Rotate your crops to avoid disease. and maintain vigour.
6. Interplant using catch crops (a quick-growing crop) to use space to the maximum.
7. Grow for taste rather than yield. 8. Make sure your plot is in full light for as long as possible.
9. Sow green manure – plants grown for a specific period and used to feed the soil – on vacant ground.
10. Enjoy yourself and encourage the whole family to join in.
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