Since I discovered that it only takes 6 months to raise some pigs to an age you can eat them I was hooked on the idea of growing my own.
If I’m honest, my growing obsession is based on greed. I adore good food and cooking. My first ever attempt at growing, aged 16, came about after watching Jamie oliver and deciding that I wanted to cook with spring onions. Living as I did on a smallholding in the South East in the middle of nowhere I didn’t have ready access to fresh spring onions in the shops, so I decided to grow some. Dad wasn’t impressed: “I’ve tried them before, they simply wont grow here.” he told me in a voice The Boyfriend imitates with glee, basing it on Samwise Gamgee. I was undeterred; Jamie said they were easy to grow, so I was growing them. Dad bought me the seeds and I dutifully planted them into a big round pot of compost and watered them in. I have an unfortunate habit of refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer and I was determined that these spring onions were going to grow and thrive and be fabulous; and despite regular lapses in watering and general neglect, they did!
Dad grows spring onions every year to this day now, he’s obsessed with them! Having had my green ego significantly (and somewhat unnecessarily) bolstered, I’ve been obsessed with growing, even when others say I can’t, ever since. This determination has been built upon by the discovery of the effects of pesticides, a lack of diversity on plants, animals, our land and our diets, and through concern for the future of our economy’s and peace. Where I can I will, and where I can’t I want to know why and if there’s another way.
Throughout my university career I was frustrated time and again by trying to grow microsalads on the worlds tiniest windowsills which failed time and again in cheep compost under my inexperience. I yearned for just a scrap of land to practice on and grow at least one whole meal from. But I was busy, and time passed and I got a job and left uni and moved away and gardening books and sites became my refuge when work was tough and life was lonely.
Then I met The Boyfriend, and on Valentines Day, over dinner, the topic turned to my passion for a diverse, stable food system and growing your own. The Boyfriend said he’d never heard me speak so passionately about anything and offered me his small garden to practice in.The Garden, aka the ‘Fourth Farthing’ is located in the North West of the UK. It’s generally soggy, the sunlight isn’t great and the soil is about two centimeters deep. I love it!
The first year we pulled all the old shrubs out, almost breaking our backs in the process, and began building the soil, experimenting with our first crops. For a first attempt it went fairly well, but I was sure we could achieve more.
So, I’ve drawn up a plan for three beds based on Forest Garden type design. Each bed is 2.5(ish) meters x 0.8 meters and will be built as wooden raised beds, filled with nutritious compost mixed with sand and topsoil (roughly as mentioned in James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution book) before being planted with 90% perennial crops.
I’ve also put my name down for an allotment nearby!
Stay tuned to see how we get on!