I was delighted to receive, in the post this morning, a ‘grow your own grub’ pack from BBC Dig In, a campaign to get the people of Britain growing their own vegetables. Five packets of seeds, a guide on how to grow them, and…erm, a sheet of stickers. And all for free, how very nice.
When I was a child, Tom and Barbara Good wove their magic over me, and I have long harboured visions of myself pootling around on a smallholding, doing a spot of digging here, a little watering there…harvesting my own produce and turning it into fabulous jams, chutneys, soups and all manner of wholesome and life-affirming victuals. I may even get a couple of pygmy goats.
Okay, so if I’m honest the kitchen-based-activity part of this ideal probably appeals to me more than the manual-labour-in-the-fresh-air bit. But last year I managed to grow dozens of chilli plants (Mexican restaurant Wahaca had free seedbooks there for the taking and it seemed rude not to…), alpine strawberries, some fairly decent courgettes, and at least one fully-formed, albeit small, aubergine.
I have been on the waiting list for an allotment in my area for the last eight years (I’m not kidding). If I do ever get one, the more experience I’ve had at growing things on a smaller scale, the better. Either that or I’ll decide that my fingers are any shade but green and give up on the whole idea.
Someone very lovely, knowing of my aspirations towards The Good Life, gave me a stack of invaluable beginners’ gardening books last Christmas – as well as Nigel Slater’s stunning tome Tender: Volume 1, for when I have some produce ready for eating – so I have been busy reading and marking them with post-it notes. According to the little booklet that came in this morning’s pack, I should already have planned my space and prepped my soil, and I’m a few days behind on the ‘action time‘ for sowing some of the seeds. Clearly I need to get on with it. Fingers crossed for a sunny weekend.