Grown here, not flown here!

Growing my own veg is something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I wanted it to be organic.  I wanted to grow veg that weren’t ‘poisoned’ with artificial fertilisers etc.  I kept putting it off for two good (or so I thought) reasons:

Reason 1.  I don’t have the space
Reason 2. I don’t know anything about it

Back in June, myself and my good mate Mark (fellow foodie and coffee roaster) embarked on our annual pilgrimage to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC, Birmingham.  At the same time, the BBC Gardeners World was also happening, so we spent some time in the food show and then dandered into the gardening show.  It was here we were introduced to the VegTrug.  All of a sudden my dreams where starting to become somewhat of a reality.  Well, at least the first of my two reasons for not growing to date was solved.  I still hadn’t a clue what to do.  I took a couple of ‘reminder’ snaps on my iPhone so I could do some research when I got home.  I was delighted to learn that WoodStoc in Bangor were the NI distributors of this amazing piece of dream fulfilling timber.  After a couple of phone calls, both Mark and I had officially ordered our VegTrug.

The VegTug arrived flat packed.  For anyone who knows me I have two left hands when I comes to assembling things by instruction.  I am normally left with more that what came in the box.  I was delighted that I not only built it very successfully, but also there wasn’t anything of great significance left over.  After filling with 420L (yup, 7 large bags of John Innis Compost) I was ready to start on my mission to be Tesco/Asda & Sainsbury’s next ‘local grower’.  Enter ‘reason 2’ from above.  I still didn’t have a clue what to do.  At this point I had a couple of avenues to explore.  Google being one, and my ‘already green fingered brother in law Rick’ who is the proud maintainer of an already successful greenhouse.

3rd July 2014

3rd July 2014

3rd July 2014

3rd July 2014

Tips, seeds and much trepidation at the ready, I was ready to start my first big ‘plant’!  Poppy and Heidi were already obsessed by the fact that their dad (who to this point could only really cut grass) was starting to plant veg.  Thankfully Poppy and Heidi already love eating vegetables, but it was still exciting for them to see their food growing from seed.  Caroline and I both believe its very important to show our kids where their food originates.  That way they appreciate it better.  So, on the 3rd July 2014 Poppy and I planted the following seeds in the VegTrug:

  • Rocket
  • Carrots
  • Turnip
  • Beetroot
  • French Breakfast Radish
Seeds.  Not everything was planted first time round.

Seeds. Not everything was planted first time round.

It wasn’t long (about 7 days) before we started to see some growth.  How exciting. 

VegTrug - Hungry Waffler VegTrug - Hungry Waffler VegTrug - Hungry Waffler

Over the next couple of weeks I was amazed as to how fast things where growing.  It was incredible.  Many times I looked out the kitchen window and either Caroline, Poppy or Heidi had unzipped the VegTrug cover and were watering their beloved vegetables to be.

The difference between the 23rd July and the 16th August was amazing.

23rd July 2014

23rd July 2014

17th September

16th August 2014

The First Harvest – 18th August 2014 – 46 days after planting

Up first were the French Breakfast Radish.  I couldn’t wait to get them out of the compost to sample.  I wasn’t let down.  The freshness was apparent from the start.  Crunchy and peppery just as they should be.  Delicious.

French Breakfast Radishes

French Breakfast Radishes

Poppy & Heidi with their radishes

Poppy & Heidi with their radishes

The Second Harvest – 10th September 2014 – 69 days after planting

Next up were the turnips and rondo carrots (not the seeds in the pic above).  I didn’t have a massive crop of either (explained later in the “Lessons Learned” section).  Regardless of the crop size it didn’t stop Poppy and Heidi eating all but 3 of the rondo carrots.  They were incredibly sweet and crunchy.

Rondo Carrots

Rondo Carrots

Rondo Carrots

Rondo Carrots

Turnips

Turnips

We love turnip/swede in our house.  Even though Heidi says she doesn’t she always clears her plate 🙂

Homegrown turnip (and onion) with potatoes, bacon and a fried egg.  Mmmmmm!

Homegrown turnip (and onion) with potatoes, bacon and a fried egg. Mmmmmm!

That’s it for the moment folks!  Not sure if the beetroot are gonna be a success (as mentioned in the “Lessons Learned” section.)

The Rocket was a success (forgot to take pics of it).  We used it a number of times in salads etc. Deliciously fresh and peppery.

Lessons Learned

  1. Don’t plant as many seeds.  My ‘drills’ where over crowded and as a result the growth wasn’t as much as it could have been, even after thinning.  That’s the main issue with the beetroot.  They just didn’t have the room to grow 🙁
  2. I won’t be supplying Tesco/Sainsburys/Asda.  Maybe next time.
  3. Plan in advance what you want to/can plant.  Different veg/herbs etc can only be planted at certain times of the year.

I really enjoyed this project.  Give it a go.  It’s not that expensive and the VegTrug will last for years.

What’s next?

  • Potatoes have been planted with the hope they will be ready to harvest for Christmas dinner
  • Tomatoes are ripening well (update coming soon)
  • I’m looking forward to the new year to start planting herbs and salad veg

Thanks for reading.