By Kathy Fairweather
Belper Gardening Club
According to recent research, growing your own fruit and vegetables has become rather trendy. There are a number of reasons quoted as giving rise to this trend. The increasing cost of fresh produce; trying to reduce the miles food travels both for environmental reasons and its freshness and value; the benefits to physical and mental health which gardening and fresh air provide and in many cases the social contact gardening can create, especially for allotment owners.
Whilst all these are extremely powerful and valid reasons for taking part in this grow-your-own trend, there is no better reason, in my opinion, than the sheer pleasure of picking something and eating it within the hour!
The flavours and freshness are unsurpassable. If you have never tasted a baby potato cooked this fresh or a plum picked completely ripe, then you have no idea what you are missing.Fruit sold in shops has had to be picked, washed, packed, transported to the warehouse, distributed to the store and finally sold some time later.
So, by the time it lands on our plates, it is already quite a few days old. Besides, we don’t know how and where they were grown; they were probably sprayed with insecticides and the soil might have been treated with herbicides.
Whilst not all chemicals used by commercial growers are dangerous, it is only by growing our own produce that we can know exactly what took place while producing them.
As we were the ones to fertilize, water, and grow the plants from the start into a beautiful, productive plant, we can choose what we use. So, if you’ve never grown anything to eat, make 2014 the year you start.
Whether you have a large plot or just a few pots, everyone can grow some food. Most vegetables and herbs as well as some fruits can easily be grown in pots.
If you are a total beginner, there are many books and websites with really useful and easy to follow instructions, or you can join one of the gardening clubs in your area, which usually have many experienced members only too keen to share their knowledge.
May is the perfect month to plant your edibles; the soil and air temperatures have warmed up enough for germination and the risk of heavy frost is fast diminishing.
If you are not too confident to grow from seed, the garden centres and nurseries are full of baby plants that you can nurture and enjoy growing. With a little bit of care and attention and much enjoyment, you will be rewarded with scrumptious produce and a great sense of pride.