This time last year, we built our first veggie patch in the garden with the intention of growing our own fruit and veg. In the frosty mornings of January and February 2020, we were taking up turf, constructing raised beds and shovelling soil in preparation for the growing season. By March, we were ready to start planting and our kitchen windowsill was overflowing with seedlings.
That’s when the first lockdown hit and supplies started to run low in the supermarkets – that’s if you could get a delivery at all. But, with the first onion sets going into the chilly ground and little shoots popping up in my make-shift seed trays, I felt a little safer in the knowledge that I’d be able to provide for myself as soon as my crops grew large enough.
And after a year of sowing, growing, eating and preserving our own produce, I was hooked. It was so reassuring not to have to reply on ‘the outside’ for our food. We only had two supermarket deliveries last year in April and September for tins and dried goods and everything else we grew ourselves. I actually couldn’t believe it – who knew we would be able to become almost self-sufficient in just a few months?
Just look how happy I am with our harvest! It turns out that you don’t need a lot of space to start growing your own veggies. Our raised beds total about 8 square metres of space, maybe even less. But once those beds were full, we started looking for other areas we could use. We built a narrow planter on our decking for tomatoes, another along the side of the shed for runner beans to grow up, and used pots for everything from cauliflower to lettuce.
As autumn arrived and we jarred-up the last batch of green tomato chutney, I started planning for our 2021 veggie patch. We ordered seeds from GrowSeed.co.uk, mapped out a new veggie patch in our never-used front garden and even got some bags of compost from the milkman. We are ready to get growing again. Which brings us to now.
We’ve already got the garlic bulbs in and they’re shooting up nicely. The shallots aren’t doing much yet, but at least I know we’ve got a row of those coming. We’ve got a batch of bare-root raspberry canes from JParkers.co.uk that will go in the new front garden patch. The tiny strawberry plants are miraculously growing in pots on the decking. And we’ve put in some grapes to climb beautifully along our patio trellis.
Last years herbs are still going strong and we sun-dried lots of leaves in the summer so we’ve got pots of dried mixed herbs in the pantry. And the best part is that we’re still eating all our home-grown produce now. From chutney and pickled beetroot to frozen carrots, peppers, green beans, parsnips, tomatoes and courgettes.
For lunch today we’re eating a vegetable soup that we made in September and froze in portions for the winter. And we’re having it with chunks of wholemeal bread that my husband baked yesterday. Argh, it’s official – we’ve become Tom and Barbara from The Good Life. In fact, my mum bought me the DVD boxset of The Good Life for my birthday last year! Soon our whole front garden will be ploughed up and put to better use with rows of potato plants and sweetcorn.
I’m currently looking for a small greenhouse, or a couple of little cold frames, or those growing spaces that look like cupboards with glass doors and shelves. After the number of seedlings in our kitchen got rather out of hand last year, I want to make the growing process a little easier to manage.
So far, I’ve got a tiny windowsill propagator from Wilko so that I can get started on sowing seeds now but by next month I’ll hopefully be able to update you on the greenhouse situation. Last year, I repurposed my pallet bar to create a plant bar for growing seedlings – here’s the plant bar blog post in case you missed it.
Let me know if you too have been growing your own and what you plan to grow this year. I’d love to see your veggie patch so please tag me in your photos on Instagram @Cassiefairy. And feel free to check out my garden board on Pinterest for allotment inspiration!