Sustenance for the soul, food for the table
Horticulture has always been “green” but today, “green” is a driving force in the marketplace where people with environmental concerns are blossoming in numbers.
Consider the not-so-new idea of staying healthy by growing your own fruit and vegetables, and even using physical exercise to dig the garden over by hand. Yes, manually!
Start off small, in a corner of the garden with a selected list of regularly eaten, or pricey veggies. Most are grown from seed so are easy to sow when the instructions on the packet are followed.
Fruit trees are usually found in the local nurseries and, with a little reading on the internet, can be installed in the garden for decorative and edible needs. Smaller fruit trees can be grown in containers — adding a new dimension to the garden.
Getting the best results from growing fruit and vegetables does require some thought. Protection from wind and salt spray are major issues; shade and sun also play a part in successful growing — some plants prefer some shade while others flourish in full sun.
Personally, I prefer a veg garden as a stand-alone entity as specific needs can be more easily catered for. Fruit trees enhance any garden setting with their flowering and fruiting habit; herbs, which can be grown in containers or open ground, add fragrance and also provide interesting leaf shapes for the viewer.
When growing veggies, it is important to discuss with one’s “better half” how much produce is required for eating fresh and how much for freezing, etc.
Observing this simple rule allows for a wider range of veggies to be grown and less waste — a win-win approach to gardening.
In a large area, I would suggest utilising perhaps a third of it, with staggered cropping, which allows for extending produce picking and reduced waste. It is also worth considering the cost factor when selecting what to grow. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, etc would be preferable to potatoes and onions.
The following are appropriate for any garden: lettuce; onions; spring onions; carrots; peppers; cauliflower; broccoli; cabbage; kale; all types of beans; tomatoes; turnip; radishes.
Fruits to grow for eating from the tree or making jams or preserves: Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora); pineapple guava (feijoa sellowiana); natal plum (carissa vars); prickly pear (opuntia stricta dillenii); Barbados gooseberry (pereskia aculeata); pomegranate (punica granatum); avocado (persea americana); mango (mangifera indicia); orange (citrus X sinensis); lemon (citrus limon); Key lime (citrus aurantifolia).
Herbs, when pulled fresh, appeal to both smell and taste and are not required in large amounts. Therefore, they can be grown either in ground or containers.
Herbs of choice: chives, tarragon, basil, parsley, thyme, coriander, cumin, fennel, sage, garlic, marjoram, several types of mint, lemon balm, oregano, anise and rosemary.
Many gardens have “wasted” space that is not used for anything in particular or is perhaps an area of weed-ridden lawn which would be more productive and aesthetically pleasing if festooned with veggies.
Such areas are also a good place to introduce some fruit trees. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, taken a step further, the gustatory senses. So, live dangerously, eat home-grown produce whilst digging your way to a healthy lifestyle!
•Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the UK. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society
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