Edible gardens – Growing vegetables at home
Rapidly rising food prices, food health scares, a national love of cooking, environmental protecton, reducing food miles, the provenance of our food. These are all factors that have seen a steep rise in the interest in home grown food and edible gardens.
Developments in the world of nutrition have shown that you really are what you eat. There is a direct corellation between the macronutrients in the food we eat and the health of our hearts, bodies and minds
There are numerous ways of incorporating herbs, fruit and vegetables into your edible garden design and an edible garden can actually look and smell great as well.
For many people the sheer weight of information and options available on whether to grow your own vegetables and to include this in your garden landscaping plans can be bewildering. So, if you want to weigh up the benefits and need convincing, here are some key points to consider.
1. What makes vegetables so good for you?
Probably the first thing to remember is that under ideal circumstances, plants absorb 70 to 80 different minerals from the soil, and that this is drastically reduced in plants grown with commercial fertilisers and the vegetables available in most supermarkets today.
It is vitally important to develop organic healthy soil into your edible garden if you want to benefit from these minerals. If you look at the recommended Daily Amounts of RDA of each mineral, the chances are that it has diminished in the vegetables that you are eating.
Part of this reduction in mineral traces is due to logistics, food miles and storage methods such as freezing, but the overriding factor is the quality of modern soil.
2. Home grown health
Studying the latest information on nutrition and health, it is clear that above and beyond the obvious impacts of diet on obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, there is also growing evidence that diet impacts mental health and is likely to be a trigger for dementia and alzheimers.
So if you have an outdoor space, then there’s never been a better time to include organic vegetables in your garden and I’d love to help you with advice or the design and installation of an edible garden.
3. Healthy soil for a healthy body and mind
I have been a gardener for over 20 years and can guarantee that if you start your home growing with good quality soil, with a mix of good compost and manure then you will not only grow vegetables that are big and strong but will also taste like no produce you have bought.
The produce will also be nutritious and will have great health benefits for you and your family.
4. Permaculture – organic is here to stay
Forty years ago you would have to be the proud owner of a knitted beard and sandals to indulge in such dark practices as green living, sustainability or even self-sufficiency, Tom and Barbara on TV’s the good life were seen as eccentrics and you would have been laughed at for uttering the words “edible garden”
Nowadays, one word ‘permaculture‘ has come to embody all of this and more.
Derived from ‘permanent agriculture‘ and ‘permanent culture‘ , permaculture is about living lightly on the planet, and future-proofing the sustainability of resources, whilst living in harmony with nature.
Permaculture advocates are not luddites resistant to change, but are concerned about stability, about enriching soil, cleaning water and increasing the biodiversity in our planting, and about thriving communities, such as the transition town movement, who often share or swap ideas and produce.
And the great thing is that you don’t have to be an ageing hippy or crusty, it’s never too late to get your fingernails dirty!
Sustainable edible garden design
I am first and foremost a landscape gardener, but I have also grown herbs, fruit and vegetables on an allotment and in my garden anfor many years and am keen to incorporate raised vegetable beds, companion planting of vegetables and plants, or growing vegetables in pots and containers into your garden design.
5. Where to grow vegetables in your new garden
The end of a garden is an obvious position to choose to grow your own veg, walking through an arch to an area of raised beds; which allow you to control the soil type and to raise the temperature of the raised bed. This will give you a head start on annual fruit and veg’ growing and ensures a good depth of soil that is essential for carrots, parsnips and other root vegetables.
Paths between the raised beds can be gravel or bark chippings and the whole area can be as interesting and attractive as the rest of your garden. A fence or wall nearby can also be used for espalier fruit trees or bushes.
When you entertain, what better than taking your guests to the vegetable garden to pick home grown fruit and veg that you will include in that evenings meal.
If you have young children, home grown vegetables can be inspirational and educating.
What better than to engage them in seed growing, propagation, planting out, watering and then harvesting herbs, tomatoes, fruiting and root vegetables and fruit. Oh and make sure you include giant pumpkins and sunflowers in your vegetable garden plan for that splash of colour!
Local vegetable roots
My roots and vegetables have been firmly planted around Crystal Palace, Norwood, Dulwich, Croydon and Bromley all my life and I have been busy designing and landscaping gardens in South London, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham as well as further afield in Surrey and Kent. I’d love to design and landscape your garden, wherever you are based in London or the South East… just give me a shout!