Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Gardening and the Joys of Growing-Your-Own!

I have never been the most green fingered person in the world, but I do try hard when it comes to gardening.  It isn't through want of trying that I fail to have an amazing and well stocked garden.  I fantasize about having a garden with an orchard growing apples, plums and pears.  I imagine myself making delicious pies and crumbles using my home grown fruit.  I'd love rows of carrots and onions and potatoes, giving my family the freshest possible veggies.  A greenhouse growing fresh chillis and vine tomatoes would keep us in homemade salsa all year.  Embracing the concept of 'grow your own' would be a wonderful way to live a more sustainable existence in this modern world.

When I was growing up, we lived in a house with a huge garden.  I didn't appreciate it at the time, nor did I realise how amazing it was that my dad grew all his own vegetables.  Row upon row of plants tied up to bamboo canes, tethered using a leg from a pair of my mum's old tights stood in a regimental fashion over three quarters of our garden.  As a child I remember longing for beds of beautiful, bright flowers, but my dad's ethos was if you couldn't eat it, he wouldn't grow it!  I recall helping him harvest peas, beans, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbages, onions and my own personal favourite, purple sprouting broccoli!  In hindsight it seems quite idyllic and I'm sure even during times of austerity it meant we always had food on our table.

The reality of gardening for me is however a very different story.  We moved into a brand new house, and although our home is lovely, we had to compromise on the garden.  It is a very uniform square plot with high fences on every side.  The sunlight doesn't reach into all the corners and the soil is very poor.  In fact, the layer of top soil is so thin you can see the rubble left over from when they were building the estate through the turf.  It is not a great garden, but I was not going to let it dampen my determination to grow my own!

Last year my gardening project got under way  and with the children's help we set out to make a potted herb garden.  Using troughs and terracotta pots, we planted up Parsley, Basil, Chives, Oregano and Mint from seed.  We also sowed an array of fabulous sounding salad leaves in a gro-bag.  We tended our seedlings and watered them everyday. We were very proud of our work and quickly we began to see the pots fill up with the aromatic plants.

Snipping our first handful of chives was a real revelation!  Picking a baby salad leaf and eating it fresh from the soil was more exciting than it really should have been.  We had worked with what he had and were reaping the reward of having some wonderful ingredients ready to use straight from our garden.

The end of this tale is sadly not a happy one.  One day a few weeks ago high winds battered our garden causing the next door neighbour's six foot fence panel to crash over, crushing and smashing our herb garden.  My foray into growing-my-own was over.  However, all was not lost.  As I look forward to the time when I move to a new house, the garden will be a big consideration.  A little sunny space with fertile soil to grow some plants is now a definite priority!

Image from Love the

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  1. I remember that huge garden with some amusement and I recall that on one occasion I decided to do some weeding as a favour to Dad and in so doing, I dug up his prize parsnip that he had been nurturing for some time. I honestly thought it was an extra large weed' We laugh about it now but at the time Dad was not amused. I think the only reason that you don't have 100% success with your gardening skills it the fact that your garden doesn't get sunlight, as you have mentioned in your blog.

  2. What a huge garden that was and I remember the veggie Dad used to grow. I remember, on one occasion, I decided to do some weeding and inadvertantly dug up Dad's prize parsnip that he had been nurturing for some time. We laugh about it now but at the time he wasn't amused. I think the only reason that you don't have 100% success in your garden is because it is mostly shrouded in shade so you don't have to blame yourself at all.



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