We run our family vegetable patch as a family hobby, everyone gets involved, it gets us outside, is educational, great for our physical and mental well being and we get to eat our wonderful fresh produce we grow - so in my opinion it's win win.
A bit of background about our vegetable patch
Since my husband and I set up home together we have always had a vegetable patch (with the exception of the years our children were born, as it was too much of a commitment with a new born), in fact we have both been growing fruit, salad and vegetables since we were children, so it came naturally to us and something we want for our children to come naturally to them. There is something rewarding and fascinating about nature and being able to grow what we eat from a seed, nurture it, pick it, prepare it and eat it, please note not everything gets prepared with some food just being consumed in the garden fresh from being picked, but that’s the fun bit right!
We are lucky enough to have a good sized garden and have dedicated one section of it to growing vegetables and salad, it’s fenced off and called the family allotment! In addition to the vegetable patch we grow a selection of herbs in borders and in 2015/2016 we decided to invest in some fruit plants and fruit trees and canes as we dreamt of having an edible garden. We keep adding new fruit canes, trees and plants to the garden each year and it’s become and bit of a healthy obsession! To be honest the plants don’t take up masses of space apart from the fruit trees and even with a small amount in a garden, or a patio or balcony you could still grow some salad, fruit and / or vegetables in pots or hanging baskets. We love planting sunflowers, they are a real asset to our vegetable patch in terms of attracting the bees and making us smile. We plant nasturtium as they help encourage certain vegetables to grow and are a great companion for tomatoes, cucumbers and kale.
In addition to the vegetable patch we have beautiful bluebells growing in the garden, have recently introduced some snowdrops and lavender and grow sweet peas (not edible despite their name) in the garden as they are so delicate and pretty. We also have a corner of wild flowers for the bees and last year introduced a new bee house to the garden.
Why do we have a vegetable patch and grow fruit and vegetables?
As mentioned above we always have, when my husband and I got together it was a common interest and now something that is a family hobby and collective interest. Something we all contribute to and something we all get pleasure and reward from.
Growing and nurturing our vegetable patch, fruit and flowers is great for our mental and physical health and well being. It gets us out of the house, gets us away from the screens, gets us talking, gets us learning and teaching, gets us moving and digging, gets us questioning and discovering.
We also collectively have a great sense of achievement when we gather our harvest, prepare it and eat it. It’s fresh, it’s plastic free and it’s not travelled far... in fact often it’s eaten straight from picking and doesn’t make it out of ‘the allotment’. We also love sharing our crops with friends and families and often receive vegetables, fruit, jams and chutneys back in exchange.
Having a vegetable patch teaches and reminds us about the seasons, allowing us to eat seasonal fresh food in the spring, summer and autumn months (we don’t grow anything during the winter).
The vegetable patch takes commitment, from planting the seeds, caring for the seedlings, planting out, watering, weeding (not my strong point), protecting from the elements - snow, wind, heavy rain, hot sunshine. However this all comes as part of the challenge and there is something very therapeutic about watering the vegetables on a warm summers evening. We also learn from our mistakes and work out how to improve our yield each year!
Our learning has been that it’s cheaper to buy vegetables and fruit from the supermarket, especially after the money invested in seeds, compost, water and caring for the plants but we don’t believe the end produce is nearly as tasty, we purely do this as a family hobby and passion - which is why I want to share our vegetable patch story on the blog.
What do we grow
We grow a good variety, although it changes from year to year depending on what takes our fancy and what seeds we have left from the previous year. In the autumn we also harvest some of our seeds to use the following year. Throughout this blog series - Our Family Vegetable Patch I will share with you what we are growing and eating throughout 2020.
Peaches - we have 2 trees and yes you can grow peaches in the UK, although the most we have ever harvested were 4 peaches in a year - they were the most tasty peaches we have ever tasted.
Apples, we have a cox apple tree, Blueberries (we have two small bushes), Blackcurrants and Redcurrants (we have a couple of bushes of each), Cherries and Grapes (our cherry tree and grape vines are small and yet to yield any fruit but am keeping my fingers crossed 2020 is the year!) We have gooseberries - three bushes and get loads of fruit. We also have a wooden pallet full of strawberries plus a few pots - we replant the strawberry runners (you can never have enough strawberries!) We also have two sets of raspberry canes and get loads of raspberries - we can't get enough!
Salad and Herbs
We grow rosemary, mint and chives all year round in the garden. Then in the summer we plant a mixture of salad leaves including lettuce, rocket, spinach and basil. We also grow several varieties of tomatoes, cucumber and peppers.
The vegetables we plant each year varies. This year I don't think we will plant carrots, onions or broccoli as we don't have much success. We enjoy growing peas, runner beans, french beans, courgettes, pumpkins and potatoes. Some other vegetable seeds will no doubt get planted, as I always get carried away buying seeds at the garden centre!
So come with us in 2020 as I take you on the journey of #ourfamilyvegetablepatch. I will aim to explain how we achieve our vegetable patch and show you our journey throughout the growing and harvest season. We would love to hear about your journey too.
*Click here to view the Berkshire Mummies disclaimer. When gardening make sure the space and tools / usage of tools is safe. Make sure only edible produce is being consumed. Garden at your own risk!*