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The Good Life

An article by our feature writer Christine Walkden


I am so thrilled that people have started to grow their own food. Ever since I was ten I have grown my own vegetable and still enjoy the thrill of digging up my first potatoes and eating them with my own grown broad beans and bacon.

  A living Larder

Potatoes can be grown in planters so successfully, I have no idea why the supermarkets still sell them when you can have your crop to harvest even on a patio or balcony.

It is so rewarding being able to harvest crops from your own space. I call my garden a living larder, there can be nothing fresher than harvesting it, and eating it all within half an hour.

All members of the family can be involved,children can grow the salad crops, so they see rapid results.  Dads and Mums involved with the longer term crops and grandparents passing on their experience and knowledge to the other family members.

Just remember all that exercise, fresh air and reduced food miles are great for everyone. There is also a great sense of community if you involve all the family along with friends and relatives.

I believe that there is nothing so satisfying as growing your own vegetables and get very frustrated when people ask me “Can I grow vegetables?” I am always tempted to reply Why? Don’t you think you can? What they are really saying is that they lack the confidence to start and are not sure where to begin.

The hardest thing about growing any crop is just making up your mind to do it.

If you think about it, all that is necessary to grow most things is some reasonable soil, water and a fairly sunny position. So we really do not need a specific area in the garden, or actually, a garden at all, as most vegetables grow really well in containers of all sorts. If you do have a garden that’s great, but please, do not think it is an essential part of growing your own food, as it isn’t.


French Beans in a Window Box

The other thing to remember is that vegetables look great when grown in among the flowers in your flower garden.

An edging made up of alternate green and red lettuce can look very nice. Broad beans with their black and white scented flowers can add height and interest amongst your bedding plants. The ferny foliage of carrots gives a pleasing feel to a border as does the beautiful dark red foliage of beetroot when growing between your flowers. Why not try French beans in a window box?  They can look great, and of course, can be eaten.

I have seen broad beans growing in old fish boxes, spring onions coming out of a recycled CD player and lettuce leaves growing out of a seed tray.One of the nicest things I spotted on a balcony was a hanging basket filled with a tomato, ‘Tumbling Tom’, surrounded by spring onions in the centre; radishes to fill the top, planted through stump-rooted carrots and then mixed salad leaves used to plant out the bottom of the basket. Not only did it look great, but it was all edible, and shows that all sorts of things are possible in an endless variety of ways.

The next comment commonly made by folks is that they do not know how to raise their own plants. Well, my answer to that is you don’t need to.

If you only have a small garden or want to grow in containers eliminate that issue by buying in plants already grown and ready to plant into your garden, or containers.

This means that you do not need any space, equipment or need to worry about a possible lack of experience. Why so a whole packet of Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, onions or anything else for that matter, if you only need a dozen or so at the most?

If you do have space, sow the seeds and use as many of the plants yourself, it’s cheaper than buying large numbers of plants and great fun, but remember to give all your surplus plants to your friends and neighbours, so that you can encourage them to grow their own, and enjoy the good life!

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