Grow veg

The allotment in September

Veg growing is incredibly rewarding and increasingly appeals to a huge range of people. I’ve noticed that people often start in a small way thinking that they’d just like to grow a few things they can eat, but that simple aim has the power to suck them in in ways they might not expect. Once you’ve grown a few vegetables successfully you start wanting to try others and soon you’re growing quite a range. Keep going and at some point you’ll find that, at certain times of year at least, you’re able to grow enough to eat your own veg regularly. At that point you cut back on what you buy and start to find yourself eating seasonally. You also find yourself eating more veg generally because you don’t want to waste anything you’ve grown and after that, it’s only one more small step to basing many of your meals around whatever vegetables you’ve just harvested. Plus, and it’s a huge plus, once you’ve eaten your own strawberries and raspberries warmed by the sun, or tasted freshly picked sweet corn, or realised that you can be picking kale virtually year round (and you’ve started to like kale!), supermarket veg, and supermarket veg prices, will never quite look the same again.

There’s only once small hiccup with this vision of vegetable utopia, and that’s the hard work and steep learning curve involved at the outset. It’s tough, having to pretty much start every single thing from scratch every year; not something you have to do in an ornamental garden. Added to that, growing a range of vegetables requires an understanding of what’s needed to produce good roots, stems, flowers, fruit, seeds and leaves from plants that originate from all corners of the globe and can have quite different growing needs.  In the early stages (and quite honestly even in the later stages when you’ve been doing it a while) it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things that can go wrong: your crops get eaten by slugs, mice, birds or badgers, they get diseases you didn’t even know existed, they get blown over by wind, shrivelled by hot sun, swamped by weeds that seemed to appear overnight or simply fail to thrive even though you’re sure you’ve given them everything they need. And then there’s the time it all takes. You start to wonder whether it’s worth the hassle, whether you’re really cut out for veg growing after all …….

Here’s the good news!

So why do people do it? Why have I been doing it for the past twenty years on my allotment? Probably because no matter how bad the year is, no matter how much it rains, or doesn’t rain, no matter how many things go wrong, some things will always do well. Glut and failure go hand in hand and you just have to get used to that. The bottom line is that there’s nothing quite so satisfying as dishing up a plate of food and knowing that you grew a lot of what’s on there. It might not always be easy, it might occasionally be frustrating, but it is always possible!

This is a warts and all growing and advice blog based on my vegetable growing experience both on the allotment and at work, with successes and failures given a good airing. I hope that reading it will encourage you to try new things, overcome the problems and enjoy the successes.

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