The Economic Vegetable Garden

 In Gardening, Health

I am reading various publications promoting the growing of vegetables. This is to save money but also to create healthy food for us to eat. Most of us realise that supermarket vegetables are often poor tasting, mainly because it takes so long to get them to market. My interest here is because I am currently digging a vegetable garden at my new house. I am aware that it is hard work, the more so because I am so old fashioned. Those ‘no digging’ fads are not part of my agenda. I feel that soil should be double dug. However, I will try a small area under cardboard. The principle is to lay down cardboard on the turf and then cover it with compost. You plant on top of this, the cardboard decomposes and, ultimately, the plants grow down into the soil. The economic vegetable garden can be high-tech!

Aching bones

I will dig out the topsoil, pushing it forward as in my photo, because that was how the Victorians did it. This exposes the subsoil, which can then be forked over or, if hard and stoney, broken up with a pick. Yes, it is hard work. However, I see this extra soil depth as essential if you intend to grow potatoes. Sensibly, as a pensioner, it is essential to limit how much effort I put in. Half an hour was the maximum at the start and I have worked up to about an hour each day. That means I wake up each morning aching in the legs and with pains running up to the neck. I will get used to the labour as the garden is my outdoor gym. My shoulder and arm muscles are definitely much stronger.

The right tools

I have tempered my previous macho approach these days. I am no longer the wiry gardener of the past using heavy iron tools. Stainless steel is a wonder product, being both lighter and smaller. I advise older people to buy a stainless border fork or spade. As they are also less wide, they pick up less soil and therefore less weight. In good soil, you can dig with a spade alone. Where the soil is hard, use a fork. A fork also kills fewer worms than a spade. It is essential to relax, to work more often and for short periods. However, I sometimes see people using a shovel to dig, which is useless. You must know your tools.

The economic vegetable garden

The most suitable vegetables include lettuce, carrots, potatoes, beetroot and beans.We will both add cougettes but Ann will delete the beetroot. That’s because they take to long to cook and that is energy wasteful. Nobody can afford to ignore the energy situation, not even gardeners. However, I will still be growing my flowers; the bees and butterflies must be cared for, it’s not just about food for us.

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