Over the last twelve months, I have been keeping a record of the approximate amount of money I’ve saved by growing my own. At first glance, the figures may seem a little disappointing at just over £100. The figures would have been £170 for the year but I spent over £60 on compost, seeds and such like.
On the other hand, the estimated saving is either the lowest price I would pay in a supermarket rather than the cost of buying the organic equivalent from say a farmers market. In other words, the saving to me on a purely financial level is possibly more like £5 a week.
In any case, it will be interesting to see what I can achieve next year. However, as this post is about the past twelve months, here is what I have learned about production:
• Tomatoes really need to be started as early as possible, so that they can be put in the ground the moment the risk of frost is over – and at a reasonable size. In this way, not only should there be more time for the fruit to grow but the plants should be less likely to succumb to blight or other nasties.
• Plants which get in the way of other plants need to come out. Poppy seeds are a nice crop if you have the space but I don’t. I collected enough seeds for perhaps two or three loaves of bread, whereas I could have made several jars with the tomatoes that could have grown in their place.
• Foraging is a superb way of feeding ourselves. Most of the fruit and leaves need some kind of processing but now we are self-sufficient in preserves and have food which is possibly more nutritious than that which can be grown in the garden (e.g. nettles).
• Hugel beds take a lot of work to build and the wood decomposes very slowly, in the meantime making planting difficult on occasion. The nitrogen loss because of the decomposition process going on under the soil also needs to be compensated for. However, it will hopefully all be worthwhile in a few years’ time.
• Bumblebees do sting. They don’t like me wearing my blue onesie. Maybe that’s a comment on my fashion sense!
• Strawberry jam with added rhubarb is even better than pure strawberry jam.
• I like claytonia, my newest crop. The challenge now is to get my daughter to try it. On the other hand, she has overcome her reluctance to eat homegrown cucumbers.
• Gardening is great, however you undertake it. In these troubled times, it is a few moments of peace and hope.
Best wishes for 2017.