Why you should grow your own veg
Allotments all over the UK are extremely popular and waiting lists are long. In a recent survey, a quarter of people said they had an allotment for growing food that’s fresh and tastes better, for the exercise in digging, planting and weeding, and to socialise with other like-minded people. As you can see, there are wide ranging benefits to allotment gardening. Let’s take a closer look.
- Eating healthily
Of course, an obvious benefit of growing your own fruit and veg is that you eat more healthily. Not only are you more likely to eat the vegetables and salads you grow, but you’re the one who decides what to grow them with (or without). Your choice to use no chemicals or sprays, for example, means you’ll be able enjoy fresh organic fruit and vegetables without the hefty ‘organic’ supermarket price tag.
- Saving you money
If you have green fingers, your allotment will be able to produce enough fresh vegetables and salads to supplement your entire family’s weekly shop. Just imagine – fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the year! Yes, it can be hard work, but even if you only grow a small crop of vegetables, a large part of the reward is the money saved that you would have otherwise spent at the shops.
- Sunlight keeps you healthy
If you’re a light-skinned individual, then spending around 15-20 minutes a day out in the summer sunshine will help you build up your levels of vitamin D, which is important to your health. If your skin is naturally darker, you can spend around 60-90 minutes in the sun to raise your vitamin levels.
Gardening outside in sunlight can make a difference to your wellbeing too – sunlight can help to ward off certain illnesses and raise your levels of serotonin, the vitamin in your body that makes you happier and healthier.
- Burning up the calories
By doing just 30 minutes of gardening on your allotment, you can burn around 150 calories, which is just as good a low-intensity workout at the gym, or doing low impact aerobics. People of all ages and abilities can get involved. It’s wonderful exercise with the added bonus of putting delicious greens and vegetables onto the dinner table.
Moderate activity like gardening can help prevent heart disease, obesity, brittle bones, arthritis, mild depression and non-insulin dependent diabetes. Allotments first came into being as means to feed the rural poor, but over the years, they’ve become a popular hobby among people from all over the UK.
Those who work allotments are healthier because of the exercise and much needed ‘fresh-air’. So, why don’t you contact your local council today and add your name to the waiting list.
- Meeting like-minded people
Your local allotment is a fantastic place to meet people in your neighbourhood and form great friendships. All of you share a common interest and most allotment gardeners are only too happy to lend a hand and offer advice.
- Supporting natural habitats and open spaces
Traditionally, allotments are located near housing developments, and are therefore essential areas to provide habitats for all forms of wildlife. By cultivating and planting an allotment, you’ll be doing your bit to keep biodiversity levels on the up.
Without these wonderful ‘green spaces’, all sorts of wildlife would be under threat, the ecosystem would suffer, crop yields would fall and your neighbourhood’s open spaces would become a much poorer place.
It’s a fact that just one square metre of land can support hundreds of species of insects, frogs, spiders, hedgehogs, and many other kinds of wildlife. Allotments provide local wildlife with sustainable habitats, and these include birds, foxes, badgers, bees, butterflies, slow-worms and many others. You’ll be amazed by what you see while working at your plot.
What you should plant
When it comes to growing your own fruit and vegetable, there’s a huge choice of crops you can try. Whether you go for traditional potatoes, carrots, salad greens, pumpkins or runner beans or try your hand at more exotic varieties of cavolo nero, okra or mooli – half the fun is in seeing what works. Take into account the soil and climate conditions of your particular allotment and experiment with trial and error.
Unless you have a good gardening community with regular seed swaps, a good seed supplier is key. Most garden centres should offer a decent selection, or you could order from a specialist online supplier such as Seed Parade.