There’s no doubt that growing your own vegetables is good thing, but when I first had an allotment I got completely carried away.
In my enthusiasm I grew lots of vegetables from seed, & when they nearly all germinated, I didn’t have the heart to get rid of most of them, “Why not just plant them all?’ I thought. This was my first rookie mistake, because as they grow, all those baby plants need watering, weeding & feeding, which takes up lots of precious time.
The result were gluts of vegetables & deciding what to do with it all. I love the idea of preserving fruit & vegetables in some form or other to use through the year & give as little gifts. But when there’s too much it becomes less of a pleasure & more of an ordeal. By the way, freezing fruit & storing in crumble-sized batches is the quickest method….which explains why we had so much of it in the over-flow freezer in the garage.
Please don’t be put off though, learn from my mistakes, because:
- It’s more sustainable, especially growing from seed, there are no air-miles just a few steps outside the back door to pick what you need that day.
- You know your food hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals (& if you want to use chemicals you’ll know exactly what they are, though reading the label could put you right off ) & stored for goodness knows how long in cold-storage.
- It’s as fresh as anything, with more flavour than most shop-bought stuff.
- You can grow fruit & vegetables that just aren’t available in the shops. My favourites are Chioggia beetroot with its’ pink & white striped flesh & jostaberries, a flavoursome berry that’s a cross between gooseberry & blackcurrant.
This year we’re in a different garden, having moved here 2 years ago. We’ve said goodbye to the allotment & there’s a small vegetable garden instead. So how to find time to grow vegetables?
I have to be more organised because we have less space, just 6 raised beds & a couple of small borders, which is probably a good thing.
This is the plan for this year:
I’ve planned what to grow & how much for the two of us, with some extra to give away.
To avoid feast & famine, I’ll sow small amounts every couple of weeks of beetroot, carrots & salad leaves & the like.
I’ll be ruthless about discarding/giving away surplus seedlings.
However, I’ll grow more courgette seeds than I need & sow them in stages over a couple of weeks. One year I planted 4 seeds in their own little pots, by the time I noticed that they hadn’t germinated, it was late in the season & they produced very little when they finally grew.
I eventually learned, that things never go according to plan in the garden. The weather is unpredictable, bugs attack or your time gets used up elsewhere. A few of my crops are affected this way every year, & I don’t take it personally anymore, it’s just an inevitable part of gardening, & there will always be something else to pick.
An excellent source of information is a book called The Half Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz. There’s a particularly useful section about how much to grow for a family of four.
Please keep reading my blog to see how I get on, as I get the new, little vegetable plot up & running.
all photos: Jill Anderson.