The pandemic has of course been horrendous for a lot of Gloucestershire residents in so many ways but there have been a number of silver linings.
And for us, growing our own food from our Cheltenham back garden has been one of them.
I’ll admit from the outset that this is a project that is still in its infancy and we won’t be stopping our weekly shop in Aldi any time soon.
I say “us” and “we” but actually this little revolution in my life and that of my wife Sha is 100 per cent down to her.
She is the one who decided to use the time she had on her hands during the lockdown to start growing food in our back garden. Fortunately it is quite big and she was able to set aside one corner specifically for the cultivation of vegetables and herbs.
She got two pallets that her dad’s neighbour didn’t need any more, gave them a lick of paint and got her dad to mount them on two walls.
By April, she was ready to begin in earnest. Soil was put into pots and planters, seeds were planted and water added. Then it was down to mother nature to do the rest.
The magic of growth happened slowly but surely and amazingly (well so it seemed to us) we began to see plants emerging before our very eyes.
And those plants gave us the first items of food we had grown ourselves. Chives, beetroot, lettuce, garlic, cress, carrots and parsley have all since rolled off the Jenkins production line.
Sha has thoroughly enjoyed it.
She said: “It has shown me that you can grow something from nothing with a bit of imagination – using little more than some old pallets and seeds.
“I was a complete novice. I didn’t have a clue.
“It’s still early days. I’ve grown random things as this is my first stab at it and I didn’t know how successful it would be.
“I’m going to move on to other things such as tomatoes and cucumbers.”
She loves pottering in the garden and growing her own food has given her another reason to be outdoors, as well as a strong sense of satisfaction and achievement.
She said: “I’ve found it has been good for my mental health as it’s been a tough time working as a key worker right through the pandemic.
“It’s helped me deal with stress. It’s been my way of escaping from what’s been going on.”
And she has been pleasantly surprised at the results of her new leisure time activity.
There has been a joy in being able to nip into the garden and add something wholesome to our plates for a meal.
But has it just been a fad or will she keep growing her own food?
“I will continue to do it and hopefully I will grow, along with my food, in confidence too,” she said.
Some basic tips from a beginner:-
- Utilise space carefully – if you have a small garden and space is at a premium, try vertical planting like we did
- Don’t put too many seeds in all at once. Be patient, things will grow and then you can add some more
- Remember to label your plants as you may well forget what you’re growing!