25 April 2015
I have read somewhere this week that the sales of vegetable seeds overtook flower seeds last year. I do hope that it is not just a passing fashion. Growing your own is not an easy undertaking, sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle but the rewards are amazing. I have been growing my own for the past twelve summers, we inherited a patch of grass when we bought our house which we have turned into a productive wildlife friendly space. It is not huge but it is enough for me to keep on top off, just, with everything else that we also like to do.
The main lesson I have learnt in all those years is to grow only what is suitable for my climate, seems simple, but there are many plants that I thought were and are grown successfully by others in my area. My limited space means that I have to choose carefully, whilst always growing what we actually like eating.
I live in a terraced house, the middle of five. All our plots are long and thin, the back of the house is the middle of a 100m plot (it's about 5.5m wide), we have a front and back garden. Immediately behind our house is an access strip as wide as a car which is shared by all the houses in the two terraces (there is another block of five) so we have to keep that land clear. It makes a great safe place for children to play. My back garden where I currently do all my growing is about 35ish metres long.
All the permanent plants we grow have to be very hardy, but even then some don't survive. I think I may have lost yet another Rosemary bush this winter despite being assured it would cope! Living, as I do, in the UK our maritime climate brings us all weathers, sometimes in one day. We are at 54.5°N, 270m above sea level, on the edge of a small village. There is open land in front of our house as far as the horizon, which is a 700 - 800m high ridge of hills about eight miles away and where most of our weather comes from. We get a lot of rain, 510mm so far this year, more than three times that on average over the year, and wind blowing right across that open ground and not much sun. Temperatures in the summer months average around 17°C, there have been a couple of summers since we have lived here where the temperatures barely got into double figures. I always wait to buy my children sandals............
You would be forgiven for thinking it was all doom and gloom, but plenty of plants thrive, it has just taken a while to work out which ones they are. We are also fortunate that land around fifteen miles south of us is at sea level which has a warmer climate and longer growing season (by about a month) there is an abundance of pick your owns farms in that area which provide us with all the fruit and veg that we cannot grow.
My garden is looking a little bare right now, I am busy sowing seeds, but you can see pictures of it here and here. What about you?