This is an amateur site targeted at keen amateur growers, to help them avoid some of the mistakes that I have made, and bring some of the latest developments in growing fruit and vegetables to their attention. Having grown fruit and vegetables since I was a child, and cultivated allotments for the last 17 years, I have picked up quite a bit of knowledge along the way. But you are always learning from your own continuing experience and the experiences of others.
The recent Guardian and Observer Guides to Growing your own fruit and vegetables, recommended this web site as one of only thirteen web sites for general information on growing your own fruit and vegetables. It shows that amateurs can compete with TV celebrity garden designers and chefs, who are also getting in on the act.
To keep tabs on all this information for my own benefit, rather than just keep notes I decided to create my own web site, where it is quite easy to organise and index the information for quick retrieval. My first site was only eight pages long, created three years ago. The latest site is the third incarnation and is now up to the best part of 200 pages long with some 800 photos. It becomes addictive!
Many keen plotters search the Internet for information on various aspects of their hobby, but it can be very confusing trying to get concise answers to a simple question. In addition to my own experience, I have included what I consider to be some of the best advice out there on the Internet. Where appropriate, I have included clickable hyperlinks to take you directly to a page on another web site for additional information. My overall aim has been to construct a web site that gives concise information and make it quickly accessible via the green navigation bar and purple drop down topics at the top of each page.
Based in the West of Scotland gives me the chance to try out different varieties of plants and techniques in a challenging environment. If they work in this area, then they will probably work for all the colder, wetter regions of the UK. They will work even better for the more climatically favoured parts of the UK, ensuring even earlier crops.
I take part in seed and potato trials run by voluntary and commercial organisations to help establish if new varieties are an improvement on existing varieties, especially for cold and wet regions of the UK. It is in my nature to experiment in growing techniques and varieties, and come to my own conclusions as to their worth in more challenging environments.
Not everyone will agree with my suggestions for varieties and techniques! That is fine by me as many experienced fruit and vegetable growers will have their own favourite varieties and techniques. However, my methods do work and I am sure that they will prove useful in many locations. Newcomers I hope, will be able to avoid some of the common mistakes that most of us have made in our time. I have grown some 93% of the types of fruit and vegetables described in the site. For completeness of this site, I have scoured other sources to find the best advice for the remainder.
It is only some 55 years ago, that it was usual for most gardens to be covered in fruit and vegetables and not grass. It was also the golden age of allotments. This had been a necessity during the war years and the food shortages in the following years. You had to grow your own for a more interesting diet. By 1945, there were 1.5 million allotments supplying 10% of the UK food needs. Today, there are only some 250,000 allotments available and huge(up to 10 years) waiting lists. The allotments associations are now the best knowledge base and demonstration of growing techniques available for growing your own, as the information has been handed down by the “Plotters” since that time. It has been estimated that an area of 250 sq ms, should be able to produce some £1500 worth of fruit and vegetables a year, a sum not to be sniffed at in these difficult times.
A recent Government survey shows that the proportion of home back garden or allotment grown fruit and vegetables, has almost doubled in the last four years. This is likely to be due to the rapidly rising cost of shop bought fruit and vegetables, as well as the various TV programs. The proportion of different fruit and vegetables that are now home grown, is surprisingly large. Beans 33%, Potatoes 7%, Tomatoes 4%, Apples 9%, Soft fruit 10%, giving an overall figure of 5% for fruit and vegetables that are home grown. Interestingly, about 46% of growers on allotments are women.
Supermarkets have filled our shopping baskets since then with fruit and vegetables cultivated and packed with very cheap migrant or third world labour, and flown in from all over the world at a vast expense in “food miles”.The sudden big increase in the cost of fuel and fertilizer, is already leading to an increasing cost of food. This is being made worse by competition for food from the increasingly affluent far Eastern countries, such as China and India.
Our taste buds have been dumbed down by Supermarkets, which now supply bland and tasteless fruit and vegetables, but which look unnaturally perfect in appearance. Real food is frequently lumpy, misshapen and has the blemishes inflicted by the weather, pests and diseases. However, your own real vegetables hopefully will have been picked when they were young and tender, and your own real fruit will have been picked when fully ripe. Supermarket food, unless it is organic, has been sprayed repeatedly with chemicals, picked unripe and transported huge distances to reach you.
Unfortunately, many garden centers tend to only have very limited ranges of goods, seeds, plants, potatoes and sets, suitable for allotments. Too many of them are being run by Accountants, who are not really interested in providing the essentials for fruit and vegetable growing for sale. They realise that “Plotters” demand “value for money”. If you are lucky, you may still have access to an independent store catering for Allotments. In season, bargains are available at some chain stores. Try Lidle, Aldi, Savacenter, Woolworths, B & Q, Homebase, Asda, Tesco.
Double check that fruit trees varieties are suitable for your area, before you buy them, as many varieties on sale, are not suitable for the climate outside the South of England.
No matter how many times I proofread this site, it is inevitable that there will still be a few mistakes. If you feel that I have made a really big mistake, you can always let me know by filling in the “contact me” form.
For those with an interest in Web sites, I used Serif WebPlus. The sizing and manipulation of my photos was carried out with the use of the free Software “Irfan View” or PhotoPlus.
For the quickest navigation around this site, use the Navigation Bar at the top of each page, and the associated drop-down lists of topics. Enable Java Script in your browser to view drop-down lists, or use the Site maps at the foot of the page.
When you “mouse over” a photo, if a “hand” appears it indicates that if you click on the photo with your computer mouse, an enlarged photo will download in a new page.
Vital small print and disclaimer
All information and opinions given in this site, are given in good faith and without any obligations or liability. Before using any of my suggestions, you should satisfy yourself that they are appropriate to your own particular proposed use. This site material is copyright and no reproduction is allowed except with my prior written permission.
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Realfood, your fruit and vegetable guide.
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