Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Introducing: Urban food growing Tuesday

I know, I know, it's Wednesday, and pretty late in the day at that. Thing is, I've been going to this Grow More Food gardening course which Urban Roots put on for the past 7 weeks and well, it's been a Tuesday kind of thing. To honour the inspiration (and kick in the arse) it's given me, as well as to keep the momentum going for me personally but maybe also for anyone interested in urban gardening, I thought I'd introduce an Urban Food Growing Tuesday.

Nice one, no?

So, what's it about?
Well, I live in a big city, in the suburbs (although it's not your average suburbia). Our house is a tiny mid terrace with a small garden. I used to have an allotment when I was still in a tenement flat, so allotment gardening is not a stranger to me. I enjoy growing things, and I've always been more into growing food than flowers. Growing food in urban spaces has particular challenges but also rewards. Above all, I have to admit that after all those years of having an allotment and trying to get a yield out of our garden, I'm not particularly good at it. I do want to get better, and I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling in their urban patch! So, wouldn't it be great if other bloggers into growing food would join in to share their successes, failures, tips and ideas? With Urban Food Growing Tuesday I'd like to create a space to share our journeys in urban food growing. If you blog about growing food, add your URL in linky below, simple as that. I might even come up with a badge if I feel creative. The linky will be open for a week from the date of my post (so usually from Tuesday to Wednesday).

One thing I felt rather bad about is that at most sessions of the Grow more Food course, I had very little of progress to report from my tiny gardening space. Of course there are reasons, so today I decided to try and cook from our garden. We had a handful of sprouting broccoli, two handful of spinach, 8 potatoes and topped it up with eggs, bread and sweetcorn, all sauted in butter. Cubling helped me dig up the tatties and was mightily proud of her harvest, and low and behold, ate her full meal (including the spinach which she usually refuses). It was tasty. I mean it, the yield might have been pathetic but the taste of it was just so much better than anything you will get from the supermarket.

That's the good bit. The bad bit is that the yield really hasn't been good this year. I didn't get a single red strawberry, my courgettes are the size of tiny gherkins, and as to the broccoli - well I waited for proper heads to appear only to see them go to flower, unsure if that meant I'd lost my chance or not. I messed up the tatties too, and the 8 small (if tasty ones) we dug up today were the yield of 3 plants.

So, putting into practice what I learned at the course, I looked at the site tonight, as we had dinner in the garden (request by Cubling, she likes the wind and wanted to eat in the wind). While our back garden is south facing (ideal), the sun is obscured by 3 sycamore trees growing on our neighbour's patch, one ash tree in our garden (which we prune to reduce the impact), a high fence to the south, a high hedge to the west, and a low fence to the east. From August, this means no sunshine after 1pm in any of the planted area of the garden - not good. The garden is mainly grass, with a few slabs for paths. To plant food, I have 2 raised beds and a significant collection of tubs.

Our front garden is north facing (not good) but on the plus side does not suffer from additional lack of sunshine. It's a grass area, with flowers, bulbs and shrubs on the edges and a new and small acer tree in the middle. Not an ideal site for food growing, and we'd be the first in the area to have food growing in the front.

A further challenge is that we are in Scotland. The growing season is shorter than in England, the climate in the west of Scotland is wet and with less hours of sun than even in the east. So far, nobody in their sane mind has suggested a Strathclyde diet (where you only eat food produced in the local area) because we know that this would probably lead to serious deficiencies. That doesn't mean though that you can't grow food here - you just have a few extra challenges to deal with and need to be more creative.

My plan for the week to come: consider what I can plant now in the spaces that have become available, but also making a plan for next year, which may expand the food growing area, and prioritise my ambitions for the space (chickens or apple tree?). Let's see what the week will bring.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin