The novice gardener succeeds...sort of

I have always wanted to grow my own fruit and veg but time never seemed to allow. And I thought I was not going to be able to until I had a bigger space to grow stuff in. How wrong and unwise I was. You can grow things anywhere, window sills, patios, balconies whatever sunny spots you have! My on-going yearning to become an evening gardener was finally realised after starting my internship at WDM in March.

Fully egged on by my Mother, who is a gardener but more down the lines of flower varieties, we now have an extensive veg patch in the corner of our garden. She had clearly had a yearning to grow tomatoes, so we bought a mini tomato plant to bloom. We then purchased carrot and beetroot seeds which cost under 50p each for an overwhelming amount of seeds. I still have half a pack of each left.

We salvaged half a bag of soil from the garden shed and the sowing began. I lovingly planted the carrot and beetroot seeds into old plastic food trays that we had saved up, placed them onto a sunny window sill and waited with anticipation, being careful to lightly sprinkle them with water every day. The potted small tomato plant joined its seed compatriots on another sunny window sill. I was very anxious that my little seeds would never turn into seedlings and then grow into adulthood. And I convinced myself it was all going to be a big disaster. You can’t imagine my happiness when I first saw the little red beetroot shoots popping out of the soil. I literally jumped for joy. But still my carrot seedlings where nowhere to be seen. Finally they emerged and grew a lot quicker than I had anticipated.

The first carrot shoots

The time came when the seedlings needed to be re housed. And the first indication of my novice skills came to light. Re housing seedlings that where pretty much planted on top of each other is a tricky and very time consuming task to say the least. So I lovingly spent many evenings moving seedling after seedling into small pots. I was afraid to put them straight outside due to the unusually cold weather that we were experiencing in April and May. However once the seedlings had once again out grown out of these pots I had to move them again, this time into grow bags which my Mother gifted to me after watching my endless seedlings moving. The rest went into some large pots that we had had around the garden.

The beetroot and carrot seedlings sunning themselves on the window sill

So the seedlings and the tomato plant migrated outside. I got given a wild garlic plant by Debby from WDM and bought a small strawberry plant to add to my growing corner of the garden patch. All was well the carrots were growing, the beetroot especially, the tomato plant was expanding in all directions at a great speed and the strawberry plant was getting along quite fine. The weather was raining which meant that all plants were being well water. All was well.

Beetroot at the front, carrots in the pots

Blooming marvelous

THEN CAME THE SLUGS, a factor that this novice gardener had not anticipated. I was distraught that the little slugs that roam around my garden would eat an entire patch of carrots. Demolished they were. I received some advice from a friend’s partner who is a farmer in Northern Ireland to put down a dish of beer to attract the slugs, and I’m assuming let them have a nice party. So I did. It partially worked but still my carrot crop continued to slowly disappear. So I called upon the little knowledge that I have about salt and slugs, they don’t mix. So I proceeded to sporadically sprinkle salt over my crops….this I’m told isn’t particularly good for plants, so I stopped!

Through all the trials and tribulations of my growing journey I have had a wonderful time. I think most of the dramatic slug eating days are over as the beetroot and carrots have become quite robust. Or maybe I will have spoken too soon. All the same I would encourage you all, young and old to grow your own veg (and fruit). As you can tell it is quite the emotional journey. But when I get to finally make the beetroot and carrot salad that I have been waiting for, directly from my garden, it will be a happy happy day. And I’m sure it will taste that much sweeter as it was grown by my own hands.

My slightly out of control tomato plant and mini stawberry plant beside

Growing your own food is empowering, knowing that even in a big city you can go outside pick your own veg and cook up a meal. The current food system desperately needs reform. Only a small handful of large corporations dominate the production, processing, distribution, marketing and retailing of food. This concentration of power enables these businesses to wipe out competition or dictate tough terms to their suppliers. Food sovereignty is about the right of peoples to define their own food systems.  Advocates of food sovereignty puts the people who produce, distribute and consume food at the centre of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that they believe have come to dominate the global food system. Join the Food Sovereignty Movement in the UK and search for local community gardens, food cooperatives, community supported agriculture, anti supermarket campaigns and community meals in your area.

Happy growing :)

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