Garden to table

With the decreasing section size and modern pressures the role of the vegetable garden has changed.

With the decreasing section size and modern pressures the role of the vegetable garden has changed. These days most of us get to treat vegetable gardening as a recreational activity, rather than the critical supply of fresh food it once was. We can choose to get our food from other sources yet the value of having a vegetable garden hasn’t lost its importance. And we all still want to feed our families with the best food we can.

We are now more aware of food miles, genetic modification, fair trade and chemical use we want to know where our food is coming from and how it has been treated. Growing your own gives you back the control and the safety of knowing what you and your family are eating. Apart from often being a money saver, it is great way to relax and get exercise at the same time. The veggie patch is also an opportunity to show children where food comes from, why it is important and how nature works. A certain satisfaction comes from providing food for the table, which is not something you can buy in the supermarket.

If finding time is the issue, don’t plant a large garden, start small and build as time allows. You don’t need to produce an award winning vegetable garden, grow fewer crops and grow them well. Try the new in small amounts and leave the difficult until you have time to concentrate. Plant your crops successively leaving a two to three week gap between each planting. This way they won’t all be ready at once, especially quicker growing salad crops. Don’t waste time and resources on plants that fail to thrive. They can potentially spread disease, so it is best to remove them early and replace.

Seeds or seedlings, they both have their pros and cons. Seeds give you a wider range of choice and are cheaper, but slower. Seedlings are quicker, great if your time is limited, and much easier for the beginner but are more expensive. If you only want a few plants look out for mixed punnets that contain a few varieties or share your punnets with a friend and neighbour.

Use the best materials you can afford. It is especially true for the soil treat it right, particularly the top 5cm, where all the nutrients are. Good tools will last the distance and great soil will produce great vegetables.

Act preventatively to avoid future problems. Most experienced gardeners will give their gardens a daily once over to keep an eye on any developing problem and sort them early. Pests can be removed by hand and along with any leaves showing the first signs of disease. Remove the weeds when they are tiny, use a hand fork or hoe. This also roughs up the top layer of soil so it doesn’t develop a hard pan. Leave the weeds to rot back in to the soil they add humus to the soil. Keep the garden clean remove garden waste, dead plants or ones that have finished producing. This will get rid of any potential places for pests to hide and prevent any diseases from spreading. There will be success and failures, despite all your efforts and it happens in every garden, our top tip is learn and move on.