The green, green appeal of a new home

PUBLISHED: 13:25 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:48 06 May 2010

Hannah Gray with her first crop of beans

Hannah Gray with her first crop of beans

LAST August I was lucky enough to be able to buy a house with a reasonable-sized garden and since then I ve been attempting to make my fingers just that little bit greener. My mum s dad was an avid gardener whose own plot was simply beautiful, and the man

LAST August I was lucky enough to be able to buy a house with a reasonable-sized garden and since then I've been attempting to make my fingers just that little bit greener.

My mum's dad was an avid gardener whose own plot was simply beautiful, and the many happy hours I spent watching him tend his plants gave me the confidence to try to create a little natural haven all of my own.

It was weed central by the time we got to it but the boyfriend and I have gradually tamed it and the borders now vaguely resemble flower beds.

The thing that's proved the most work, but has ultimately been the most rewarding, has been creating our own mini version of The Good Life with a modest vegetable patch.

My fellow reporter here at The Comet, Bob Bryant, thoughtfully provided me with runner bean seeds and tomato plants and so earlier this year, drawing on the horticultural knowledge I confidently assumed I'd absorbed through watching my granddad, I set about planting.

After struggling to keep them all watered in the super-hot weather we had at the start of the summer, the recent downpours have helped the beans flourish and I'm fairly certain we'll be eating runners for weeks to come, as will all our friends and family.

The tomatoes have struggled somewhat but we've got a few and have learned our lessons ready for next year.

More importantly, I've loved doing it.

I thoroughly enjoy being in the garden, and find even the boring jobs like weeding incredibly rewarding.

It would seem I'm not alone either, as the percentage of allotments taken up in Hitchin, Letchworth GC and Baldock has risen sharply in the last five years, showing there's a growing trend towards getting back to nature.

I'm not quite sure I'm ready for an allotment yet as our little patch is enough to keep us busy, but it's certainly good news that people are increasingly becoming interested in growing their own food.

In today's shrink-wrapped, pre-packed world, we're becoming an ignorant lot when it comes to knowing where our food comes from.

We expect everything to come fully prepared and ready to eat.

And - more worryingly - we want it when we want it, not when it grows naturally in this country.

As such, we're accustomed to eating courgettes in the middle of winter, which is completely out of season, and choose to ignore all the air miles they've done to end up in our casserole.

Growing your own is an excellent way of reminding yourself where these things actually come from - and when.

It's nowhere near as convenient as popping to the supermarket, but it's far more environmentally friendly in so many ways, and gives you a healthy dose of exercise and fresh air to boot.

I'm hoping my own little vegetable empire will be extended to include other varieties next year - although I may stop short of getting chickens and pigs like Tom and Barbara Good, if that's ok.

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