Growing your own food really is fun, easy, satisfying and pretty economical too which is an added bonus. And fantastically nutritious and amazingly tasty compared with any supermarket produce, even the “Absolute Best Of…” range.
What do you really need? A patch of earth – anywhere, can be in a container on a patio or a bit of the garden, a space between some flowering ornamental plants, or if you’re lucky (like me) an allotment. A few packets of seeds, a spade and a garden fork, a trowel, access to water and a watering can. In our allotments we’re not allowed to use a hose, so I look on it as a free alternative to the gym, carrying water from the tap to my thirsty seedlings. Well that’s how I cheer myself up when racing around late on a summer’s evening, when our design work is at its busiest and so, annoyingly, are lots of my vegetable plants.
My greatest challenge is to limit my seed buying to a sensible number of potential plants, and to remind myself that I’m not trying to cultivate an airfield. Seed catalogues do send me into a spending frenzy. But if you’re sensible, start with the best loved/most used/easiest to grow/pest resistant variety of each basic vegetable you want to grow, for example potatoes, onions, runner beans, peas, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, rocket SO cheap and easy to grow and SO ridiculously expensive to buy from supermarkets, I’ve never understood it! Lots of vegetables have attractive flowers – I love runner bean flowers for example, and though I actually dislike broad beans to eat would almost grow them for the flowers alone. Artichokes have fantastic flowers if you let them get that far, but I love the vegetables too much to allow that beautiful blue starburst to break out.
Also, be reassured, it’s never too late to grow something. Yes there are optimum times for sowing seeds and getting a good harvest. But actually lots of important times in the life of a seed are totally unpredictable – a cold snap in May, torrential rain in August, a sunny hot October, a mild December – so you can often get away with planting “late” and still get something tasty to show for it 3 or 4 months down the line. Even quicker for salad crops like radishes and spring onions (which actually grow through the winter too).
So have a rummage through those bin sales in the garden centre – you’re not too late to get going!