What a great day it was when I read that Michelle Obama plans to dig up 100sqm of the Whitehouse lawn so that her family can eat what they grow and send a positive message out to the world that growing vegetables promotes community, responsibility and health. Of course all veg growers and allotmenteers knew this already but it often takes someone in the public eye to hammer the message home.
For those who don’t have the advantage of a huge greensward then there are a variety of options open to you.
- You can sign up for an allotment. Many are run by local councils and waiting lists can be unbearably long however the rent is usually very low.
- Failing that then there may be people in your community with gardens which are too big. In return for a share of your home grown harvest they might be prepared to let you do your thing on their land. The Landshare initiative is a national project backed by Hugh and the team at River Cottage to help people find suitable crop growing land.
- Some communities (my own included) have really taken ‘growing your own’ on board in a big way and community agriculture schemes and community smallholdings are beginning to spring up. Getting involved in something like this is a great way to kick start your growing habit.
- Try utilising the space you have and plant up containers on windowsills, patios or roof terraces. Think carefully about the aspect of your site, for instance roof gardens usually need some protection in the form of wind breaks. Choose your containers carefully. Some plants need space to put down long roots and don’t forget that containers need watering more frequently than a garden bed. Try a bit of companion planting in containers to give your crops every chance of success. Basil planted with tomatoes aids the growth of the toms and keeps the pests at bay, for instance. This week at the school gardening club we planted potatoes in bags and next Monday we’ll be sowing our peas in some guttering. Actually guttering is the perfect shape for all sorts of windowledge growing, holding the soil in just the right place and allowing you to slip the growing seedlings undisturbed into a trench in the ground.