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Blog 23 Grow What you Eat and Eat What you Grow

Cast yer cloots, everyone, June has arrived. You know the old saying, ne’er cast a cloot till May is oot. It refers to casting off a layer of clothing, do not discard our winter clothes before summer has truly arrived, but it works for gardening too. Even allowing for climate change, we can be fairly sure we have said goodbye to frost, so planting can begin.

We’re looking at vegetables this week, so what should you be planting?

What you like to eat! There’s more than the obvious reason for this. Not only will you actually eat what you have grown, you will know what it is supposed to look like and when it is ready to harvest. Choose something that you see in the shops all the time so you will recognize it, though, of course, we’re not saying that you have to have the uniformity demanded by supermarkets. No, no, wonky veg is absolutely fine. Unless you’re aiming for a “first” in your local show.

You might be tempted to grow something a bit more fancy than peas or potatoes but are you confident you’ll know when to harvest an aubergine or squash?

We’d also suggest that if you are new to growing your own, you stick to your three favourite veg. Three is a good number. You’ll get a bit of variety, but you won’t get overwhelmed and you’ll find out how much time and effort is involved. Be realistic. We all know people who absolutely refuse to leave their garden during the summer months because they know that their hard work will all be for nothing if they’re not there to keep up with the watering and harvesting during those critical months.

Now, maybe that will suit you just down to the ground (that is now supporting your veg!), but if you’re not sure, don’t be too ambitious to begin with.

Get to know what you’re doing, how much work is involved and you can always try four next year.

Remember, you will now be a plant parent. And just like having a child, you will be responsible for keeping the little one alive, for nurturing it. And, keeping the analogy going, when your child heads off to university or to a new city, you still keep an eye on them. So you do the same for your little seeds as they grow into seedlings and then full blown plants. However, unlike with children, you can at some point eat them!!

Still a bit unsure where to start?

Herbs are good. They don’t need much attention but, freshly picked, they are very tasty and will elevate whatever dish you are making. Things like thyme and rosemary are Mediterranean, so they like dry conditions – no need for constant watering, and the more you cut them the better they grow.

Top tip: if you are worried you will take on too much, or maybe become obsessed, avoid tomatoes to begin with. Home-grown tomatoes are absolutely delicious, and seeing them ripen is just so satisfying, BUT they demand your time. They need a lot of watering, feeding and pinching out.

There’s another potential pitfall waiting for new gardeners. The Glut! You know, when there are dozens of courgettes all ready to be picked at the same time, you don’t actually want to eat nothing but courgettes and you are aware that you friends and neighbours are avoiding you so they don’t have to refuse your generous offer of more courgettes.

The way to avoid The Glut is, of course, to space out your planting.

Start with only one row of your chosen veg (or one pot if you’re short of space and are doing all your gardening in containers). Wait till those seeds sprout, then plant another row, or pot. They’ll then ripen in succession and you’ll be able to pick and enjoy them throughout the summer and autumn.

Please don’t wait till you have a garden to begin gardening. Get a few pots on the windowsill or the front step. It’s so important for city dwellers, especially when you don’t see much greenery. Think of it as looking after your mental health.

Concentrating on just a small piece of land, or a pot, slows you down, stops you thinking of anything else for a while. It’s very meditative. You’ll feel the soil warming up and, believe us, it will warm your soul. You’ll become much more aware of the seasons and the changes in the weather. In short, you will be living in the moment.

Naturally, there will be failures, but don’t worry. If one plant doesn’t flourish, try again. You’ll be building up your resilience and when success comes it will be so much sweeter.


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