Anyone following me knows that last year I set about growing food. I already grew some herbs but I decided to make it a project for the family to have a more determined approach to growing food that we knew to be healthy for us.
We made raised beds to make it easier to tend and to ensure that what we grew was in organic soil and not in the earth in the garden … heaven knows what was in that.
We used reclaimed sleepers and old wooden pallets to make the beds which are this year getting a bright paint job and I mean bright, we’re talking candy colours and big splodges, splats, dots and stripes. My son had even asked if he can do the bed full of green stuff (kale, cabbage and lettuce) in an Avengers style which should be great fun. We don’t care about coordination in the garden it’s rather more functional now than it used to be and besides the paint jobs will give us something nice to look at and will be a talking point when entertaining in the summer.
We filled the beds with organic soil, fertilisers and we collected stones and large rocks for drainage from the beach. So where we had to pay out for the more expensive stuff to grow the food in, we saved on the actual structures to put the lot in.
Having raised beds really did help a lot, we were able to cover one with a poly tunnel over the winter and keep things going, thanks to lots of sun and a very good position.
We didn’t really have much in the way of frost this year, winter was very mild but even if we had the beds would have been more insulated than the ground. We’ve not had any weeds but getting them out would be much easier on the back, general tending is so much easier on the back and knees anyway. So if you have space we’d highly recommend investing in a couple. This year we’re early enough on the case to be growing fruit and our greenhouse is fully operational at last. We bought that from an online re-selling site for a bargain price and although we had to dismantle and re assemble this end it was still well worth what we paid for it.
We’ve also now got a little gang of chickens out back and we’ve been offered a rooster but we’re not sure how we feel about that. We had one when I was a kid and it drove us nuts. We’ve had our first eggs too and we’re really happy that our chickens due to the design of our garden are able to roam free over quite a large area in safety from other animals. At night we do lock them away as we get foxes around here so we usher them into a nice little chicken shed all tucked away in a corner and keep them safe and sound.
We know that we’re lucky to have this space and to be able to afford to start it off, but believe me if you’re worried about making the investment once it gets going it saves a small fortune especially on green leafy produce which seems to grow like crazy and you can pick just what you want to eat that day rather than pulling a whole plant. We try our best to plan our planting so that we don’t have any waste and so we can uses most of what we grow but we have had mishaps where we’ve wound up with a stock pile but don’t worry, friends, family and neighbours are happy to take that lush organic freshness off your hands.
It’s a little easier for us to manage now because you remember the old guy I befriended by the sea? Well he comes almost every day, he loves to potter about and he has dropped about ten years in age from having a purpose in life. We don’t take advantage before it sounds like we’ve taken on OAP labour, he asked if he could help out when we showed him around on after he’d come for lunch one day and ever since he comes and goes as he pleases. He has keys for the back way and the house but most times he doesn’t even bother us, we stumble upon him out there. Our over eaters group from our GP surgery has a double pitch allotment and Nick and I have our rota’d slot there each week and we take him along there with us too and he loves to get involved and after that we go for our walk with his dog and we take him for something to eat. He’s passed on lots of valuable knowledge and information so he’s been a real God send in so many ways. He calls me his angel but he’s ours too, I think sometimes we are just sent people we need when we need them and definitely we all appreciate one another. The best bit, if I can type this without crying as it chokes me up, is that my son has a grandad for the first time in his life. They get on so well and have developed a real bond. I was always so sad that my kids grew up not knowing their grandad who would have loved them (did for a couple of years in my daughter’s case) beyond measure and I feel they were cheated out of a wonderful man in their lives but watching my son and him together, it’s just like someone else thought he deserved a grandad too and that’s just beyond words to even try to explain what that means to me and to him.
Anyway, instead of being sentimental I’m supposed to be sharing a resource here. My daughter’s very health conscious too but she flat shares and has a very small courtyard garden which she’s grown some herbs in pots in (a cute little colourful window box she put together – they don’t even have to go outside to get their herbs they sling the kitchen window open and snip away and during the winter she simply lifted it inside and sat the whole lot on the kitchen windowsill where it fared well). She wants to get a bit more adventurous and grow more this year (she did have a kale and lettuce container last year) and so I was looking for ideas for her when I came across this book. I bought it online form The Book People in the UK but am sure it must be available elsewhere or similar books.
It’s really great, lots of techniques and tips, instructions and fab pictures to guide you and inspire you. It also has diagrams and charts and helps you plan out your planting and growing so that you make the most of your space and add variety into your growing. She is really following a very similar diet to us although she has more carbs when she is hiking in the mountains or kayaking, she finds that she needs more of an instant energy hit before those strenuous activities but she eats lots of leafy greens but wanted to also try growing onions, garlic, beets and some carrots. This book is fabulous to help her with all of that and it was only a fiver! (well £4.99)
I just thought I’d recommend it to anyone who feels they don’t have space enough to grow their own veggies and wants to give it a go. I know it seems like another job to do in already busy lives but honestly the time we spend in our garden we see as exercise and mental relaxation rolled into one. There is something uniquely therapeutic and relaxing about watching and nurturing growing things.