Date(s) - 11/03/2022
Kilmington Village Hall
Why? Where? and How? were the first questions to be tackled by Adam Wallis, from Brimsmore Gardens, when he came to talk to the Club on the subject of ‘Grow your Own’ on Friday, 11th March. Why do we grow our own fruit and vegetables? There is a great sense of achievement in growing something from seed and the taste is usually superior to anything bought in the supermarket.
Something which people are increasingly aware of is the provenance of food and knowing it has travelled no distance enhances the enjoyment – just pick and eat! Growing in a polytunnel helps to grow unusual varieties of vegetables, but it also enables plants to be grown out of season. There is a possible cost benefit in that surplus produce can be frozen.
Of course, sowing seeds is something that you can share with children to encourage them to become gardeners of the future.
If you have the space to have a vegetable plot in your garden or allotment, it should be in a sheltered and sunny spot, with fertile and well-drained soil and a good water supply to hand. Raised beds are preferable as drainage is much better, the soil temperature is increased and it is easier to adjust the soil pH. However, if space is at a premium, another way is to grow vegetables in containers. There are bush varieties of runner beans, raspberries, blueberries and tomatoes which are all ideally suited to growing in pots. How about planting a herb seed in a tea-bag?
Before planting anything you need to improve the fertility of the soil and control the weeds.
He also stressed the importance of crop rotation which helps to reduce the build-up of pests, for example, Legumes/Alliums/Solanacea/Brassicas/root and tubers. Then leave the soil fallow one year. Improve the soil by laying on compost, mulch or manure.
Having improved your soil and planted your seeds, it is important to provide protection from pests, cold and sun. Tunnels, cloches, cold frames and fleece bags protect against the frost. There is an anti-insect mesh which helps to protect your plants from pests. Adam recommended gently feeding your plants using a seaweed extract such as Rootgrow in the early stages. If weed control is necessary, Adam recommends a new product which is chemical-free: Neudorff.
And then there’s the pests! SlugStop is wildlife friendly and biodegradable but it needs to be refreshed regularly. Grazers is effective against rabbits, deer, pigeons and geese. Bug Clear is a contact killer for use against aphids and other insects. Companion planting is the practice of growing different plants together for mutual benefit e.g. herbs will enjoy the shade provided by peas, marigolds with tomatoes, chives deter blackfly on your roses.
What to plant at the moment? Potatoes, onion sets, garlic, brassicas and cauliflowers.
In the space of an hour, we were brought up to speed with the latest equipment and new products which will help us to tackle growing our own enthusiastically and confidently.