When I think about the first five years we spent in our new home, I smile and remember fondly the way our new build garden looked; roughly turned soil, no definition and a request to the builders to leave a border around the garden before they started to turf.
Little could we imagine then how our garden would take shape. Half a decade of learning and growing.
During this time, we hadn’t really taken extra time to plant vegetables in the garden. When we first tried, our vegetables were decimated by slugs, snails, aphids, flies and caterpillars. At this stage, we gave up.
We stuck to what worked for us which meant; fruit. We planted apple, cherry and plum trees, gooseberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and honeyberry bushes. We planted in rhubarb, grape vines and grew strawberries. They were easy to maintain, highly rewarding and it was enough in our home garden to look after along with the regular flower and herb borders.
Then came lockdown. At a time which was worrying and stressful we had time to devote to the garden with a new enthusiasm and purpose. We had purchased packets of seeds locally when the news started and had a good reason to be growing our own, to give it our best, to try something new and teach our children in the process.
We dug a vegetable patch in the lawn; a bold move, but a highly productive idea. We planted in it and dug into our borders, mixing seedlings and bulbs with our regular flowers. Our seeds were planted in our old pots, cardboard tubes, anything we could find. We placed them on our windowsills in March and April until they could go out.
At one period, we had sweetcorn growing in our lounge at one metre high and French beans climbing our kitchen windows. We utilised our space and ideas well, our three children loving every stage of seed buying, planting, growing, watering and harvesting.
When we had questions, we looked online to find help. When we discovered Food Community on Facebook suddenly we found ourselves with a group of amazing, positive and helpful people where we could ask anything at all, no question too daft – always a helping hand on offer.
What a truly passionate community which has grown in size every day. The photos, stories and posts linked us all in such a way I’m ever more inspired to transform the garden.
In sixth months we have grown tomatoes (cherry and ox heart), pumpkins, runner and green beans, peas, salad, garlic, spring onions, beetroot and much more. Where our potatoes have been dug up, broccoli has taken its place. When the runner beans come up, garlic will grow there ready for next year. We even grew the sweetcorn in our lawn!
It is truly as simple as planting into soil and watering – with a bit of protection you can easily grow your own organic and healthy fresh food.