Urban Veg

Veg: Part 1 – vegetable growing diary

Whilst I spend most of my time promoting interesting social stories and sustainable projects as the Marketing Manager at both Loaf and Northfield Ecocentre, and as a freelance photographer, it’s rare that I roll up my sleeves in the kitchen or garden and get my hands really dirty. Being Tom’s wife, most people think I share his bread knowledge and skill. But leaving the baking mastery to him, it’s growing veggies and looking after our chickens that I love.

Veggie Love

So, my little bit of extra-curricular self-indulgence has been to enrol myself on a six-week gardening course at Urban Veg at Winterbourne House and Garden. Led by Guardian gardening columnist Alys Fowler, I’m learning “How to get more from your urban veg patch”, which in my case is our little back garden and an allotment shared with our Loaf baker Dom and his wife Vic.

Tom at Allotment
Tom at our first ever allotment back in 2009

I’m a novice at gardening. I dabble, planting seeds, growing on window-sills, and talking to my plants – much to Tom’s amusement.  Sometimes the results are amazing and at other times – well – let’s just say a lot of it comes down to luck.

Week one and two at Urban Veg grounded us in soil science and the art of composting, without which everything, as i’ve discovered is mostly down to chance. Knowing my soil type, understanding native and invading pests (watch out for the Spanish Stealth Slug), and feeding my soil with as much as I can from my home and garden (chicken poo, veggie peelings, friendly weeds – and even old receipts and human hair) is key. Aly’s infectious love for the environment and organic principles seems to make sense when it comes to growing.

The next four weeks of the course are a mystery, but if they’re anything like the last two my garden to-do list will continue to grow, as I experiment. I’m looking out for pallets to build a second compost heap, cardboard for lasagne gardening, saving hedge clippings for a bug hotel and leaves for leaf mould compost, and vow never to store my seeds over winter in the shed again (Sorry, Alys).

Nancy, our wonderful administrator at Loaf has signed up for an Urban Veg course too, and Dom wishes he could! I sense a little bit of gardening jealousy – and maybe even a veggie growing competition on the horizon!


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