I have long harboured a desire to ‘grow your own’ vegetables and salad, we are part of a box scheme from the wonderful woodlands farm when we are away at the weekends but only really use it in the summer and autumn.
Like most things that I want to do that aren’t attached to my normal job that earns my income and keeps the mortgage payments up to date, the battle to get them done is always about time (or the lack of it).
I would dearly love to spend my days sewing or planting or baking or making or any of those other wonderful things that are associated with a country life (or at least a life with a little less work in the balance) but I do have to pay the bills so off to work I go.
We cook a lot and always prepare from fresh so we buy a lot of produce. We are pretty lucky to have a decent sized garden for a flat in a victorian london terrace so why not put it to more uses. The pond won’t be affected so our little colony of newts and frogs won’t suffer, the bird feeders won’t have to move so the birds won’t mind, the flower beds are mostly around the edges and will remain untouched, the decking won’t change for our al fresco eating, it is only the failed lawn that will change and it can only be for the good.
I feel a bit of pressure to succeed at ‘grow your own’ and it may have contributed to the delay in getting around to it as my paternal grandad was a great gardener and in fact that is what he spent his life doing once he gave up farming and he excelled at it. My dad had a vast vegetable patch and orchard on a pig farm in Great Langton and then actually went into horticulture in the 70s by joining the Land Settlement Association in Lincolnshire. My maternal grandparents kept an allotment along the side of a redundant railway line which they had started during the second world war in the ‘Dig for Victory’ scheme, my brother has a veg patch and even my sister is just about to start one… it goes on. I am quite frankly a slacker in this field.
Because the weather hasn’t been the best over the last few summers, and the fact that we are away most weekends now means we seem to have spent less time out in the garden in town than we normally would and some of the shrubs had started to take over a bit. We also had town foxes visiting that were becoming a problem and their smell was quite bad. The dog has waged war on them and has sorted it out now so that they are much less frequent visitors.
The gorgeous weather and the need to tidy up and get rid of the grass that we couldn’t ever really maintain to any level that would warrant it being called a ‘lawn’ stirred us into finally getting on with it last weekend.
We have created a raised vegetable bed from some old oak groins salvaged from a building site, we bought a plastic greenhouse which is now full of tomato plants and herb seedlings and I had scrounged 2 old butlers sinks from my mum ages ago that are now planted with asparagus and some more herbs. We bagged ourselves some potent Turkey muck from the farm so all the ingredients are there.
Combined, these 3 growing areas should provide us with all the herbs we favour, all the salad we can toss, all the spinach, beans, carrots, strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus we can eat.
It has all come from bought seed unfortunately and that goes against my instinct to scrounge, trade and thrift but there are exceptions; The tomato plants were bought at a car boot sale for pennies, the asparagus was given to me by my friend Maria, the rhubarb came from the farmer’s wife and the strawberry plant was saved from a dried out pot.
It has only been a few days since the transformation but there are already rocket sprouts showing and one of the 2 asparagus tips (that I actually planted in a butlers sink a few weeks ago) is up too. It’s very exciting and although we have a bit of tidying and finishing off to do, I do feel a bit like I am also Digging for Victory albeit my own little victory.