Saturday, April 28, 2007

Digging for Victory: Britains new pastime

I was up early today, watching the BBC new and there was a piece about people growing their own vegetables in there gardens and allotments. I googled for the news and found an article in the Guardian.
It says that for the first time since the second world war vegetable seeds are outselling flower seeds. People are getting fed up of the extravagant prices that large supermarkets sell their organic vegetables, fruit, and herbs. These are specially marked Organic, grown without chemicals or pesticides. The price is double or three times the normal cost for non organic vegetables. I guess these have been sprayed, GM altered, or something similar to not be organic.
Several years ago Allotments (community gardens to the USA) were declining in popularity, and plots lay deserted, abandoned. Councils began to sell off the land previously set aside for the growing of fruit or veg.
Today there are waiting lists of years to gain an allotment. Some councils are reducing the plot size in half to make more available.
The major seed sellers note that vegetable seed and plant sales are up 31%, whereas Traditional flower seeds sales are down by a similar amount.
People want to grow their own veg, for organic reasons, for health reasons, and for a return to old fashioned values. Family's are growing the potatoes, onions, green beans, carrots etc, and pick them for dinner from the plot.
Keeping chickens is on the increase as a pastime, and now beekeeping ,once a declining pastime has become popular, for home made honey I guess. Even within the city of London, bees are buzzing around.
I have my three windowsills, until such time as I move again. The house MUST have a garden or some space suitable for growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
The poster is from the British National Archives. Whilst looking up Dig for Victory I found this article by a guy called Erin Koch about the British home front during the second world war. The flower beds and lawns were cleared for growing vegetables during the war when food rationing was in force, and when we were dependent on importing food from outside Britain.
How strange that time has turned 360 degrees from a country at war, to personal crusades against the buying power of the national supermarkets, and a desire to return to agrarian roots of our Island. How long have the British cultivated land and grown plants for personel use? The original cottage garden..
There are two main groups on allotments now, the typical older man, probably retired, and the thirty something growing exotic vegetables. That could be man or woman too. Families have also moved down to allotments too.
The satisfaction of eating something you have grown and nurtured is being fostered, a whole new generation of green fingered children will see their parents doing it.
Allotments will pass down slowly between the old timers to the younger generation, and potatoes, carrots, leeks, cabbages, cauliflowers, spring onions, etc will be grown to go from plot to dinner plate.
I think I will have a house before an allotment, as long as I have somewhere to grow things I will be happy.Until then I will dig and tidy other peoples gardens for pleasure :)


Christa said...

Community gardens are really gaining popularity here in the USA, too. There is always a waiting list to get into our garden, and new community gardens are getting started around the city. I see people of all ages at our garden -- families, elderly people (as old as 85!), and young couples. There are even a few people who have their own homes and a place to garden, but they like to have a plot because they enjoy the community aspect of it. It is a wonderful way to spend time with other people who share a similar interest. I started my plot with mostly flowers, but each year I've been adding more vegetables -- primarily because they just taste better than anything store-bought.

David (Snappy) said...

Thanks Christa,I knew you had a community garden plot.Its a shame here the waiting list is so long.I have been researching what you can grow on windowsills.Once my plants have been to the charity plant sale I may try windowsill veg.I have three varieties of tomato plants.The seeds i have been given are lettuce, leeks, and spring onions.Im thinking of peppers, baby carrots, and maybe some herbs too.The demographics of community gardens (allotments) is changing as i said.I would love to be part of a community that shares my love and passion for growing things!
I will still grow flowers.I saw a guy who used his allotment to grow roses for flower show competition. Picking them for blooming on the day virtually, using cotton wool to make the flower shape perfect.His roses look like the pictures from the David Austin catalogue.Just perfection!
The tomatos i grew last year as an experiment tasted better than any i bought.Even the mother tomato that i took the seeds from.
No chemicals, no pesticides, just grown by me with sunlight and water, plus plant food.
They were succulent and tasty.Thats why i have three varities growing now.
Gardeners delight, tigerella, and red pear!fingers crossed!