In this strangest of years, where supermarkets experienced actual shortages and deliveries were unavailable, the prospect of homegrown fruit and vegetables probably never seemed more appealing.
I’m lucky enough to own a small greenhouse and had already started the season’s seed planting when lockdown hit. There were temporary hiccups when my seed order was delayed and then when I ran out of compost for ‘potting up’. But I confess there was a greater sense of purpose to my planting than usual.
For those who found themselves considering growing their own for the first time, it probably wasn’t easy. How do you go about gathering the necessary supplies when the garden centres are shut and you can’t get together with that gardening friend or family member?
I hope those who managed to plant something experienced that ridiculously intense moment of pride you get when you look at a plate and realise you raised that tomato / potato / piece of kale you’re about to stick your fork in. (More on kale later..)
The two things all gardening newbies will have noticed are that it takes work and it doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t simply want homegrown tomatoes one day and have them the next. It takes planning. Is that a bad thing though? Isn’t one of the things we’ve learned from lockdown that most of us crave a little more slow time, simple activities, fresh air?
The thing about growing your own is it’s not ‘all or nothing’. If all you have room (or patience) for is a supply of salad leaves in a pot – so be it, that’s great. Because your lovingly picked handful of leaves are helping to reduce the number of plastic bags of wilting leaves turning to smelly mush at the back of UK fridges. Your leaves can go from pot to plate without refrigeration (one of the planet’s biggest environmental issues), without further transport and without pesticides.
There’s a lot of talk about a “new normal”. But that won’t happen without work or planning either. The human default is simply to return to old ways when a crisis is over. So if you really want to change things, why not start by making grow your own part of your new normal? We’ll do our best to help.
Look out for the next part of this blog, where we’ll talk about how to plan….and more about kale.