Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published February 26th 2014
Image from Morguefile
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
Are you a GYO advocate. In the forties and fifties, growing your own fruit and vegetables was common place, particularly because of rationing. Then we started to get lazy and buy all our groceries from the supermarket.
What with the rise in food prices, and environmental concerns, growing your own has become cool again. But growing fruit and vegetables in your back garden is quite different to having a big farm, where you have all the space and equipment you need. There is also the issue of how much time you have to plant, feed, water, and pick the produce. If you have joint problems, getting down on your hands and knees can also be difficult.
What fruit and vegetables do you think are best suited to home growers?
Many years ago, my dad and grandpa used to own an allotment up the road, and grew lots of different vegetables. While we really enjoyed sitting out in the garden, popping all the peas from their pods, we always dreaded the appearance of yet another white cabbage.
Due to foxes, vandalism, and rising fees, they eventually gave up on the allotment, and these days we stick to growing bits and bobs in the garden.
For my grandpa, we bought him thornless gooseberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes. These are a great choice because it avoids a lot of pain when picking. You can get an abundance of berries from these bushes, which make great pies and jam. You can also freeze them for a future date.
My grandpa has a greenhouse in his garden, which is the ideal environment for tomatoes. The last few years, we have tried growing tomatoes too, but without a greenhouse, it is not the easiest of jobs. We had to put our seeds in pots, which meant they didn't have a lot of space. Tomatoes have a tendency to get top heavy so that the vines snap. They are also very fussy. Too much or not enough water, and they get bottom rot. If you have the patience, tomatoes are a good choice; you can use them in salads, sandwiches, and make chutneys and sauces with them.
Strawberries are another tasty fruit for making jam or trifle with, but unless you have the space to plant them underground, we have found that using specially designed pots are not really adequate.
Our most successful endeavour was last year, when we planted some rocket seeds. Rocket is expensive from the supermarket, but we got so much, in our garden that it was not necessary to buy any more. In fact, we had surplus, which our guinea pigs very much enjoyed.
What would you recommend growing if you have a small garden?