Little Man told me last year that he wanted to grow carrots and peas in our garden (I blame Mr Bloom...) We already have a respectable crop of raspberries and strawberries and I usually have a few pots of herbs on the go. I have also grown tomatoes and peppers in the conservatory (though not for a couple of years - I always forget to start them off in time! Or I forget to water them. . .) and the occasional courgette plant has found it's way into the flower bed. You may remember last year we had a go at runner beans, which were hugely successful but as neither of us really like them that much, ultimately a pointless exercise!
In an ideal world I would love to grow all our own veggies - I dream of nicely laid out plots ala River Cottage, with a green house and potting shed. We will grow spuds all year round, pick our salad fresh every day, make jams, cordials and chutneys with the glut of fruit at the end of summer and serve home grown sprouts with our festive turkey dinner. Hey let's take the dream a step further and collect eggs daily from our little troop of chickens. I may even call on the mother in law to teach me how to milk a goat! Then I can wear dungarees and you can all call me Barbara . . .
Unfortunately our little patch of England is not really good for much more than supporting the dandelion and slug population (I have moaned and whinged about the lack of size, light, decent soil etc. in the past so I won't do it again...) But I was determined that we would grow something other than weeds this year so I invested in a simple, slot together wooden raised bed and set it up in the only flat(ish) bit of garden that gets sunlight and isn't covered in gravel.
When last summer's growing season was over I filled it with some left over potting compost and compost from our compost bin, gave it a good dig over and left it over winter. Once the soil started to warm up we had a root through my packets of seeds (some of which I had bought and some my mum gave us) and decided what had the best chance of (a) growing and (b) being eaten in the event that it actually grew big enough to harvest . . .
Little Man said he wanted peas and carrots but we also found some beetroot and lettuce seeds.
Dividing the raised bed into quarters we planted a different vegetable in each quarter. Then Little Man watered them with his very own little watering can . . .
We added a giant blue windmill in the corner of the plot as a 'scarecrow' to discourage birds from digging around and hopefully the cat from viewing the freshly dug over plot as her very own personal toilet... (it's working so far! On both counts!!)
Now we just have to sit back and wait (and remember to water it when it's dry).
I am very much looking forward to being able to harvest carrots and eat them straight out of the ground, and peas straight from the pods. I have even remembered to start the tomatoes off this year and have three plants in a grow bag against the sunny wall so we may, at some point this summer, be able to boast a fully homegrown salad for tea!
It's a long way from my little dream of vegetable self-sufficiency but it's as much as we can do with what we've got and I know the Little Man will get so much more out of it than just fresh carrots on his plate.
Are you growing any of your own fruit and veg this summer? Have you in the past? Was it worth all the effort? And did the kids really help like they said they would or lose interest before the first seedling poked it's head through the soil? ;-)