Growing fruit & Veg in a small semi-rural garden near Cambridge
by Andrew Pullen
My wife and I only started to grow our own veg when we started noticing that produce in Tescos (and other retailers) were having to be either flown in halfway across the world, were getting smaller and the price was increasing for what was less 'product'
A perfect example being 'Iceberg' Lettuce from Tesco. This was being flown in from Spain, was small and unimpressive and yet the price was going up - seemingly every week. The same applied to many other veg varieties but what topped this was baby corn. These are shipped or flown in all the way from Thailand! That's a 11 hour flight and several thousand gallons of Jet A1 kerosene and its attendant CO2 waste product.
So, last year we built a greenhouse and bought some old wood half-barrels and new plastic dustbins and planted away. We grew French Beans in a large terracotta pot which cropped extremely well and were grown up a wigwam of bamboo sticks. We'd previously bought French Beans but these were flown in from The Congo or some other African country. Huge carbon footprint!
Now, my wife and I are not out-right eco tree-huggers but this importing of food from distant lands just isn't sustainable unless alternative renewable fuel supplies are used in that transportation. Unfortunately planes still need aviation gasoline, ships still need diesel oil and lorries still use diesel fuel.
Our tomatoes were okay-ish but kept splitting due to infrequent watering - or to be exact, they simply needed more water than our water collection butt could supply. we will be putting this years tomatoes in the flower beds as these never really dry out plus the pollinating insects will keep the toms flowers pollinated. A win-win situation.
The plan for this year is to plumb in a gravity fed water supply to the greenhouse where we are going to put peppers and chillies. The greenhouse is an aluminium lean-to type built against the garage wall where heat from the sun will keep it nice and warm. A water tank will be placed in the garage loft and then a pipe fed down into the greenhouse. A feed pipe and ball valve/float will feed water pumped to the tank from a water-butt at ground level. A small 12v dc marine grade pump powered by a solar PV panel and rechargeable battery will top up the header tank when needed. Gravity will force water through the standard irrigation pipe network and a water timer unit will control when the plants are watered.
So there's lots to do. Had a setback when the cam belt on our car snapped so most of the next week or two will be me sorting this out....but that's a different blog.
See you all soon.