Despite reductions in the price of an average shopping basket, and the increasing availability of more exotic food types, Britain is in the throws of a micro-revolution. More and more of us are considering growing our own vegetables and fruits at home, aware of how much this can save on the budget in the long run, and also concerned about our civilization’s need to reduce food miles in order to try and save what’s left of the planet.
Put simply, then, this isn’t just another gardensing craze born out of some trend. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about getting back to the roots (excuse the pun) of our species in its domesticated form, breaking free from the increasingly distrusted big businesses that provide the majority of what we put in our stomachs, and avoiding too many nasty chemicals that can be linked to a variety of unpleasant diseases.
Tempted? Here’s the basics when it comes to starting your own vegetable garden.
Keep your eyes to the ground
Depending on what you want to grow different ground can offer different benefits. For salad items and strawberries, choose somewhere with shade. And if that’s not on offer naturally, create some shade. Carrots, onions, tomatoes and chillies, on the other hand, need as much sunlight as possible. And, particularly for the latter two, the further north in the country you are the more it might make sense to put them in a greenhouse.
Sample the soil
We’re blessed in the UK. The majority of soil types are ideal for growing veg, but check the quality before planting. Too many stones is never a good situation, and if it’s less than a ‘spit’ deep (the length of your spade’s blade), then you’ll need to rethink. In both instances consider building raised beds and filling with bought soil, or growing the crops in large pots. Clay-soil is well-known for its rich nutrient content, but in winter it can kill your seeds, meaning if you have this type then raised beds with another soil variety will be required.
Slugs, snails and weeds often come together
It’s vital that you keep your vegetable plot neat and tidy, and not just for the aesthetics. Molluscs hide inbetween leaves and weeds, within long grass and dense flower borders. Avoid them all. Try constructing a paved path in between your flower beds; these pesky pests will stand little chance
of making it from one side to another without being eaten alive by the birds. Yes, it sounds mean, but this is the gardener’s equivalent to a war zone.
*Always read the instructions on any packet of seeds you are thinking of using.
*Make your own compost to feed your produce properly- lawn clippings, kitchen peelings, green prunings can all be used.
*Try to avoid chemicals if you need to kill weeds, but this isn’t the end of the world if you have to.
Image Credit: (C) Rex Roof on Flickr
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