The garden is waking up
It’s the time of year when the garden when the garden has been waking up, with the early flowering plants making their presence felt.
So far we have seen snowdrops, daffodils, grape hyacinth and primrose, and as the season unfolds, so more colours will be appearing in many an ornamental growing space.
But, of course, not everything is ornamental, with much garden space devoted to producing food for the table.
Much of my time in the garden is not actually spent behind our house, but instead, it is spent on our council-owned allotment.
Dedication is what you need
A ten-minute walk away, it does take a some dedication to maintain it but with movement limited by the lockdown last year, it was easier to tend it before going to the day job, as there was no commuting required.
This year will be a little different to last, as heading into the office each day is getting more like the norm again, so I do have to ensure that every minute working on the plot is well spent.
So far this year, the potatoes have been planted (on Good Friday, as tradition dictates), the onions went in recently, as well as the carrots, beetroot and radishes.
For a long time, I have planted the onion sets around the carrot seedbed, as I was told many years ago that the smell of the onions confuses carrot flies, which would happily eat off the seedlings as they emerge - and it does seem to work.
Growing in the greenhouse
And back home in the greenhouse, I have been getting the indoor-sown seeds into the compost to try to maximise their success.
These include the likes of parsnip and leeks, even though we have still not finished harvesting the last of the 2020 crop.
Other seeds that have been sown include various squashes to see if we can start cropping a little earlier, and the brassica seeds to try to ensure we have home grown Brussel sprouts when it come to seasonal celebrations in December.
As with any gardening project, there is always plenty to do at the allotment - maintaining the shed, removing some of the hundreds of stones that lie across the surface and of course, keeping it as weed-free as possible, which is far easier said than done.
Sharing our produce
But the way we see it is that anything we can produce by our own efforts in the garden is just one way of reaching the distance from field to fork - each courgette that is brought home has only travelled a matter of around 700 metres. And if there is a glut of veg, then we are always happy to share with others - you just have to find the right person as some vegetables divide opinion.
We know we are lucky in having access to a full-size allotment but even if you only have a small amount of land, you can still produce your own vegetables - you just need to choose wisely. There is no great advantage in growing the vegetables that you can buy cheaply in the shops so it’s better to stick with the higher value produce - so long as you enjoy eating them.
Runner beans are a great example of this. The space they can take up need be no more than one square metre, as with a supporting structure, they grow vertically and produce a crop that is likely to cost more in the shops than, for example,
Go on, give it a go
So if you have any inclination to grow your own food, then I would say go for it. In the natural environment, it is a cheap hobby that requires relatively few resources, it doesn’t have to take up much space and the homegrown results really add value to your dinner plate. I am always delighted when I can say I have grown all the vegetables in a meal.
So get your green fingers out, get out in the garden and see what food you can grow - it will bring you great rewards.