Tuesday, April 28, 2009


As a complete novice, I wasn't quite sure where to start. I knew very little about soil or compost. Or what grows where and when. What I did have an inkling of is that our current food system is not in a healthy condition. I wanted to make my own small contribution to 'digging for victory'.

We've been lucky enough to move to a house with a sunny south-facing garden, most of it lawn and flower beds, but with one obvious asset for growing our own - a small glasshouse on the patio.

Keen to get started, I bought a little book from Oxfam about organic gardening, which explained the benefits of compost and its key role in nourishing the soil. I also came across a helpful leaflet from the Council which emphasised the importance of getting the right mix between 'green' kitchen waste and 'brown' drier stuff like torn up bits of cardboard. I fashioned a rudimentary compost heap in a large bin bag with holes punched in it for ventilation. It won't be any good this spring, of course, but I'm looking forward to using it next year.

A few friends suggested I buy some grow bags as an easy way to get started. At the local garden centre I found some labelled organic and peat-free (J A Bowers New Horizon range). Deciding to play it safe, rather than buying seeds, I opted for some small plants that were already established in pots - cherry tomatoes, green & yellow peppers, marrow and some mange tout peas.

Back at home, I simply followed the instructions on the grow bags, making some small holes in the bottom for drainage and cutting some larger holes in the top for the plants. I watered the bags through the holes and then transferred the tomato, pepper & marrow plants to the grow bags, using my figures to dig away and mold the compost - nice grimy fingernails! To plant the peas, I poured some loose compost into a freestanding container and used some sticks to support the climbing stems.

All this was only a couple of days ago but already I've spotted some small flowers on my tomato plants. I feel like a proud parent! This is all exciting uncharted territory for me. Up to now my growing ambitions have extended no further than sprouting a few seeds on the kitchen windowsill. Now I'm taking my first baby steps to becoming an organic vegetable gardener.

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