Grow veg

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The allotment in December

Why grow your own vegetables?

When supermarkets sell a cornucopia of fresh vegetables that are clean, evenly shaped, sometimes quite cheap and miraculously available all year round, why would you need to grow your own?

There are lots of good reasons. Fresh vegetables in the supermarket aren’t always all that fresh, and certainly nowhere near as fresh as something you’ve picked and eaten on the same day. Many things taste better when you grow them yourself and you learn to cook with whatever is in season, which naturally encourages you to enjoy a greater variety of things throughout the year rather than relying on the same few things all the time. It also gives you control over how your food is grown and huge satisfaction from managing to produce even a small amount of food yourself, from just a few packets of seed. Plus you get exercise and fresh air which improves your health and lifts your mood.

If you already grow vegetables either at home or an allotment, you’ll be familiar with all of these reasons just as you’ll be familiar with the hard work involved. If you are only just starting to grow veg you might not yet be fully familiar with either but persevere and you will find out, both how much work it can be and how much it is worth it.

I got my allotment when my children were about 5 and 7 years old over 20 years ago, and I grew vegetables for many years as part of my working life running trials for Which? Gardening magazine and in the potager garden we used for display and photography.

To my mind growing veg on an allotment is quite different from growing it as part of a full-time job. In work I had time – whole working days, a certain amount of budget, equipment and help from other staff and volunteers. On my allotment I work mostly on my own, try to spend as little as possible and it has always had to fit in around work, family commitments and the weather. On the other hand, at the allotment I’ve also had much more freedom to grow whatever I want to eat and to experiment with how I do it than I ever had at work.

My aim for these blogs is to share what I’ve learnt in both areas of my life, but to focus on the specific challenges and joys of allotment growing with all the ups and downs that entails. There will be successes (I hope), there will be failure, and there will certainly be slugs.

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