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The veg of glory; Growing your own is an ideal way to build interest in gardening..and save a bit of cash along the way; just do it; Each week,TV's Carol Klein will be telling us what's been happening in her cottage garden... as well as hints and tips for you.

Byline: Carol Klein

The idea of growing your own veg is a popular concept nowadays, but if you had a bit of garden or an allotment in wartime or post–war Britain then you would almost certainly have grown some of your own food.

My grandad not only had an allotment but also turned over the greenhouse behind their house to growing tomatoes. There was a whole border full of rhubarb too – an easy and productive crop.

What was once a necessity for lots of people has become a trend, but one that is very important in these times of austerity.

I'm not suggesting the Chancellor starts a Feed Yourselves campaign but if you don't already do it, now is the time to start.

When Neil and I moved from London to Glebe Cottage nearly 30 years ago, one of my ambitions was to grow veg. Though neither of us had any experience, we soon had a thriving patch. And once you've had home–grown produce, supermarket veg comes a poor second.

Some gardeners are apprehensive about growing their own but seeds just want to grow. All we have to do is give them the right conditions, weed the plot, water and nurture them, then harvest and eat them. What could be easier?

SPACE

One of the problems many of us envisage is not having enough space to support anything worth eating. Even a tiny patch, managed imaginatively, can provide fresh veg throughout the year. A 10ft x 10ft patch can produce something fresh through the season. Whatever size your garden, growing your own is an option.

TIME

Most of us have busy lives and may have misgivings about just how much time our vegetables are going to need. But most of the hard work is in setting up the plot, and after that it should be plain sailing.

There are very few fussy crops, most of the time it's a question of raking the soil, sowing seed and keeping the plot watered and weeded. Half an hour after work each day should suffice, but you'll probably find yourself there much longer.

Concentrate on easy crops that will give you rich rewards – runner beans and courgettes, onions, salads and potatoes.

WHAT WE'RE DOING AT GLEBE COTTAGE

Everyone makes resolutions about how they're going to change and how things are going to be different next year.

I'm going to keep a record of anything that works well in the garden – especially successful combinations to repeat.

Neil and I will also have a tree–planting ceremony and, since we don't know any royalty, we're planting it ourselves. It's an apple, James Grieve, but the only place we've got room is as part of our native hedge. It should be really happy there.

ASK CAROL

Q

We want to make a hedge, preferably evergreen, between us and next door. We know leylandii are a bad idea and don't like privet. What can we use?

A

Have you considered beech? Although it's not an evergreen, beech hedges usually retain their lovely russet foliage right through the winter. You could mix in other native trees. Much more exciting than an evergreen hedge and much more wildlife–friendly.

Q

Do I really have to wash out old pots and seed trays before I use them again for new planting?

A

Briefly – yes. It's great that you're recycling your old pots but giving them a good scrub with warm water plus a drop of detergent or bleach and then a rinse will ensure you're not passing on pests or disease.

Got a gardening question for Carol? Email m.mcmonagle@sundaymail.co.uk

GOLDEN RULES

Look after your soil, put back what you take out.

Concentrate on growing what you like to eat ? Sow successionally to avoid gluts and ensure constant supply.

Pick vegetables while young and in their prime.

Rotate crops to maintain vigour and avoid disease.Interplant using catch crops to use space to the maximum

Grow crops for taste rather than yield.

Make sure your plot is in full light for as long as possible.

Sow green manure on vacant ground.

Enjoy yourself and encourage the whole family to join in.

CAPTION(S):

Nothing tastes as good as home–grown

It's a joy tending to your veggie patch
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 6, 2013
Words:722
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