About three years ago now a friend and I got into wild foraging. We started getting food that was growing around where we lived. And there's a surprising amount of it - we don't even live in the country but in one of the biggest cities in the world.
I also tried growing my own food. I couldn't have picked a worse year for it though than last year. It wasn't that there wasn't much of a harvest so much as there wasn't anything at all. Local apple trees stopped producing, and for the first time there were no blackberries to pick. It was pitiful. And what we got in the garden wasn't that great either, with potato blight, no tomatoes, and courgettes that just didn't grow.
So, growing your own food isn't necessarily going to keep you stocked in fresh vegetables for no more cost than a little sweat of the brow. But for every bad year there's always lots of good years and it is worth persevering!
You don't even need a garden, an outdoor space of any kind will do, or just a ledge on your kitchen window. You can use what you've got to start saving money on the food bill.
Springtime is traditionally the time to start sowing seeds for harvesting food later in the year. And it is traditional to do so at this time of they year because, well, that's how nature works.
Except, not all plants need to be planted now to grow. That's just one of the many many questions I have to find an answer for. Because I am a complete novice at this and really have absolutely no clues whatsoever when it comes to growing food.
So if you're like me , read on. Here's some of the help I managed to find online!
Run by a mother of two who lives in Bath, My Tiny Plot proved to be a great starting place for me. It is simply a lovely blog to read even if you're not doing any gardening yourself. She has a nice way of writing, and the photos she uses are just beautiful.
In particular the bulleted lists of what to do each month. Simple, and concise it was great to have a clear place to start from.
Using her 10 jobs for each month guides, I have decided to start this year with carrots.
If you're stuck on any terminology by the way, try this guide to Gardeners' Dictionary. This is a great starting place to unravel the mysteries of growing food and gardening. But. Maybe there's a better one out there? If any more experienced folks are reading this, please post and let me know. Trust me, I need ALL the help I can get.
Lucy and her partner Rich moved into a house with a small, attached unused block of land off the garden. There was nothing that could be done with the land as it had lost its access to a road.
Now Lucy is trying to turn it into a slice of 'the good life'. And The Smallest Smallholdingtracks her progress, as well as her four ex-battery hens, and cats. As well as being a lovely read, this is also an inspirational one.
For really practical stuff, you can't beat the BBC's Gardener's World. This is its blog. One section that is well worth checking out is the What To Do Now tab. This has very handy weekly checklists.
On the blog, I particularly liked Kate Bradbury's post on growing herbs. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in killing off the herbs I try to grow, mostly through neglect. But equally good to see that really it's not a reason to give up altogether. We can't all be perfect gardeners. Maybe mediocre is good enough for most of the time.
Access to all the Guardian newspaper's gardening stories (and the Observers) can be found on this page, so it is a useful one to bookmark. I love the charming stories in the blog posts.
If you click on the Ask Alys link at the top of the page, you'll come to the Guardian's gardening question and answer page. I find it really interesting to look through, and see what problems other people have had and the answers they were given.