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Veg Box Scheme and Growing My Own

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I have quite a lot to say about my experiments with food and gardening of late but I’m a little concerned about scaring off the majority of you who’re here to read the geeky bits. As I don’t have the time to start and maintain a separate blog it’s a case of “tough titty”: you guys will have to pick the bits you want to read and ignore the rest. :)

With the rising cost of food everything in the UK I’m trying to do as much as possible to cut down costs; cutting out 20 mile round trips to Tesco on a Saturday seemed like the best place to start. I ‘enrolled’ into a local vegetable box delivery scheme a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, even though the produce is all organic, it actually works out cheaper than equivalent produce from Tesco. When supplemented with meat from the local butchers, bread from the bakers and so on, we’re saving about £20 a week. I have even been bulk buying cat food from the Internet to save a few quid there.

Anyway, cost-cutting aside, the veggies are benefits I didn’t think of. Firstly, I’m eating 4-5 portions a day. I’ve started experimenting more with my food — until a few weeks ago I’d never even heard of kohlrabi — and my meals have become more than just meat and two veg day in day out. I have bought a vegetarian cookbook (purely for the huge variety of recipes, not because I’m planning on going vegetarian) and I no longer struggle for lunch ideas. The biggest shocker is that Karl — the man that lived off microchips for years before we got together — ate butternut squash. Anyone who’s ever heard me rant about his fish cakes will understand what a big deal that is.

Moving on from commercial veg… my own garden is flourishing. I have a courgette that has totally taken over a growbag, so much so that a squash sharing the bag had to be moved elsewhere. My tomatoes are doing much better outside (this is the part where Sarah says “I told you so”) although I don’t want to spoil another post I’ve got drafted up so I’ll shut up about them. A couple of my strawberries are turning red now; I’ve got runner beans growing up a trellis (lack of canes, although this was fixed this weekend courtesy of Karl’s mum); and my rhubarb (the one I thought I’d killed) has recovered and is getting bigger too.

My biggest problem is finding advice online aimed at those growing purely in pots. Nearly all the sites I read seem to think it’s common for people to have acres of land or something! As a rental tenant, and the owner of a back garden that’s mostly paving slab, I cannot plant in the ground. The likes of Pots of Fruit are few and far between.

Heyho, I plod along. I don’t know what surprises me more… the fact that I’ve managed to grow things, or that I’m actually enjoying something that doesn’t revolve around my computer.

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

16 comments so far

  1. Stephanie said:

    More people should try to grow their own food, especially because of rising food costs. Good for you for trying (and succeeding)! And I personally love gardening posts, which is probably why I’ve been reading less and less geeky blogs and more and more gardening/knitting ones…

  2. Mumblies said:

    To be honest I don’t think there are any special rules with regard to growing in pots rather than in the ground. Obviously you won’t be able to get nice straight lines of things in a pot as size will restrict you there but having seen my friend grow carrots in a planter normally used for flowers (they were good sized and tasty too) I think you should just go with what you fancy, and give it a whirl. You never know, you may even start a new trend too :)
    As for the post being too homely and not geeky enough…I never read the geek stuff as you know but don’t have a problem with not enough of the homely so nobody else should have problems with it either, and if they do…Tough! Go madcatgeekveggiegrowinglady Go! lol

  3. Annie said:

    Can’t say I’m cutting cost as effectively as you but in the back garden we’re growing spring onions, hah. We did grow melons.

    I can barely take care of my African Violets never mind vegetable plants. :P Maybe this site will help?

  4. Stephanie said:

    I really love gardening and planting, and not paying $3.28/lb of squash. I really do miss having a garden at home! Fresh tomatoes are beautiful things. Feel free to babble on about your vegetables, gourds and fruits, I’ll squee like a fan girl ;)

    @Annie: My grandmother’s entire basement was dedicated to growing african violets. I remember helping her take care of them for many years. Needless to say, violets are my specialty ;)

  5. Tanya said:

    We’re also trying to cut corners to make ends meet at the moment, we’re just thankful we rent otherwise I don’t know how we would be coping with the unending rise in energy, food and petrol prices. I got really excited after hearing about the local vegetable box delivery scheme, but turns out they don’t deliver in my area so I’ve registered my details and will be pestering neighbours to do the same.

    I’ve only just started with my pots and grow bags, I’m having a nightmare of a time because the cats keep trying to destroy them when we let them play in the garden. I’ve also found it really difficult to find much advice online or elsewhere, and hadn’t heard of Pots of Fruit, so thanks for the link. :D

  6. SarahG said:

    I’d never say ‘I told you so’ ;) How’s the plant that got split? Still going strong I hope.

    Gardening in pots isn’t much different to in the ground. Just make sure the plants that possibly need more root space or space below the ground level has it. Strawberries and most salad plants are fine in 2 inch high trays (as that’s what I have!). Bigger plants that stay established are better in something a bit bigger. Root vegetables obviously need more space below ground so a bigger tub would be needed (eg. carrots, parsnip, potatoes etc).

    I’m still waiting for my courgette seeds to kick in. Not sure if they will though.

    Good to hear it’s all going well :)

  7. kachii said:

    My grandma owns two allotments that have won awards in Salisbury – is there any in your area? Maybe you could rent a patch and grow stuff there and make a small income. ;) The most fun times I had at my grandmas was sitting on the grass in her allotment (yes, she has enough room for a nice big patch of grass to sit on!) and eat plums from the trees in the sun. She also grows lots of strawberries, rhubarb, beans, carrots, onions, potatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, beetroot, apples, pears, you name it, she’s grown it. I think it could be a great investment if you’re pretty serious about growing stuff.

  8. Tuna said:

    Hrrm. The only thing I’ve managed to grow at home with any success is a beanstalk.. which didn’t grow very far, sadly. My parents are much better at the gardening thing.. they’ve got tomatoes, bananas, eggplant and chillies growing out of a tiny kitchen yard..
    Local organic veggies turn out to be cheaper than other alternatives? I think I should try that.. I’ll be moving out soon, meaning I have to pay rent, electricity and food out of a student’s stipend, and I’m on the lookout for cost-reducing measures too :P

  9. Rise said:

    You can cut down on the amount of meat you have in a meal. Most people eat too much meat really. xD

    Oh and have you thought about becoming freegan? I’m going to do this when I move out.

    Sounds really awesome to me. Most people would find it gross and trampish to eat food from a bin, but those people don’t actually know what goes into Tesco’s bins…It’s not just snotty tissues, half eaten sarnies and all that. There are probably no half eaten sandwiches, actually. :p

  10. Jem said:

    You can cut down on the amount of meat you have in a meal. Most people eat too much meat really. xD

    I only usually eat meat with one meal a week, unless there’s some leftover for my lunch the next day..

  11. Arwen said:

    The price of everything is going up here in the states, as well. Organic milk is nearing $9 a gallon, I think. (I don’t buy organic milk.) Regular milk is somewhere around $6 a gallon (depending on where you go) and unfortunately the hubby drinks this shit by the buckets (his excuse: New York milk tastes great. California milk tastes horrible). We’ve been forced to cut back on dairy intake, but in terms of produce, there are plenty of street vendors who sell fruits and veggies dirt cheap (see also: cherries at $2 a pound). There’s also an Asian grocery store not far from us that has cheap seafood and meats, and also offers pretty competitive prices on produce.

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