Nothing beats home grown by Andrew Trott

There can be many rewards in producing your own fruit and vegetables. One of the biggest rewards in growing, eating, storing, bottling or freezing your own produce is that you know where your food has come from. It is reassuring to know that our home-grown produce is healthy, that it is grown in healthy soil and that it has not been subjected to any chemical fertilisers or sprays. There is also the pleasure of watching little plants grow and become healthy food for the table. There can also be some financial rewards in savings made in the weekly grocery bills.

Besides eating fresh vegetables straight out of the garden, we also store some of our produce for use over winter. There are enough potatoes stored away to last us through winter; we dry chillies and store them; make plum jam, crabapple jelly, tomato relish and tomato soup; grate and freeze courgettes to go into soups or loaves in winter; stew and freeze apples and rhubarb; bottle peaches, pears and apples – all of it grown on our own little section.

You do not need a large garden area to grow your own vegetables. Even if you live in an apartment, or rent a house where you are unable to dig a vegetable garden, you could try growing some salads and other vegies in pots, or in long troughs. It is just so convenient to be able to pick something fresh for a meal.

The cucumbers, tomatoes and courgettes have come to an end so I have just pulled out the last of those. This month I will dig some compost into that bare ground then throw some blue lupin seeds over it so that the lupins can grow over winter. In my opinion, compost and green manure cover crops such as lupin are much more effective in reinvigorating the soil than any chemical fertilisers that you can buy. Compost and cover crops raise the fertility and organic content in the soil and improve drainage, aeration and soil structure. Mustard is another good cover crop, which acts as a natural soil steriliser to combat soil pests. Other cover crops are oats, buckwheat, chicory and barley. My own preference is blue lupins, which I will sow now and dig in next spring. As well as the benefits listed above, blue lupins provide good nitrogen and nutrients to the soil. The worm farm is providing lots of “worm tea”. Using a 10 litre watering can, mix in 1 litre of worm tea to 9 litres of water, then spread that around the bases of plants and fruit trees. They will thank you for it.

Our first batch of corn took a real battering in that big storm in late February but we are still picking some good cobs from it. The spinach planted for use in winter has taken off and it is looking really healthy. This month I will plant out cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli for use over winter, putting some netting over the plants for the first few weeks to keep out the white butterflies. There is still time to sow another row of carrots this month.

Sow April:- Ready to harvest from:-

Beetroot June/July
Carrots June/July

 

Plant April:- Ready to harvest from:-

Broccoli June/July
Brussel Sprouts June/July
Cabbage June/July
Cauliflower June/July
Leeks August/September
Silverbeet & spinach June

 

Happy Gardening.