Is it time to dig for victory again?

Posted by heather on Tue 22 Jan 08 at 7:01pm

With 'doom and gloom' predicted on the financial horizon the idea of 'growing your own' fruit and vegetables is surfacing in the most surprising people and the once humble allotment has become more sought after than ever.
But is it worth the initial investment?
Don't be fooled - an allotment is not 'food for free'.
You might be lucky and take over a well fertilised allotment, with well dug beds, a shed and a water butt - but the odds are, you won't. So you'll have to provide your own and if you're tempted to move your garden shed from home to the allotment, be warned, you'll probably spend most of its second life trying to keep it standing up.
You can grow inexpensive vegetables - a packet of spinach beet seeds costs around 1, and the resulting crop will probably be worth twenty times that, as long as the slugs don't get it first. The new way to deal with the slimey munchers is to spray with a nematode solution, but that's not cheap and you have to do it two or three times in the growing season. If you're tempted by the fabulous choice of seeds on offer, from Chinese Lanterns to Black Chillies, you'll be surprised how it adds up - and it's funny how some of the packets never actually get opened.
The cheapest way to grow strawberries is to start from seed, happily some of the easiest strawberries to grow from seed are the top of the range Alpine Strawberries - they're absolutely delicious popped into a glass of fizzy wine (you need a reward after all the digging, planting etc). Invest in strawberry plants and you've the promise of a crop within a few months, plus most varieties will send out runners to become baby plants for a bigger strawberry bed new year - a nice little bonus.
Invest in some fruit bushes, thorny gooseberries, elegant redcurrants, massive parsley leafed blackberries and an allotment will start to look really productive - your investment is totting up.
A seasonal diary shows you what you're getting for your effort, money out and crops in.



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