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The joys of GIY – Grow It Yourself

One of the most exciting aspects of gardening, for me, is the watching and waiting and finally the appearance, of plants from seeds I have sown. It’s magic!

The other is harvesting the crop—especially potatoes. Since I was about nine years old I have never tired of rummaging in the soil to find the ‘golden apples’ (other colours are available). It was a treat shown to me by my father and now a lifelong pleasure.

There is no food so fresh or healthy as home grown fruit and vegetables plus the added environmental benefits of no food miles and no packaging. Hertfordshire provides a good growing environment for apples, pears, damsons and plums although their success depends largely on the timing of frosts which vary from year to year.

If you get a glut of anything you could put it in a box by your gate or advertise on social media. Once the coronavirus risk has passed Transition Town Letchworth’s monthly Growers Market stall, where your surplus crops can be swapped for something you haven’t got, will return.

To think that, at any time of year, there could be something edible in the garden is amazing, even if it’s only a sprig of rosemary, to add to your winter roasts. Rosemary and sage are so easy to grow, are evergreens and need very little attention. Being Mediterranean in origin, they are ideal for our dry soils. They root really easily from cuttings too. Mint is another easy one but beware of it spreading. It’s best grown in a large pot and watered regularly. If you like mint tea, cut it off in full leaf and dry indoors in a warm dry place like an airing cupboard. It can last you through the winter when the plant has died back.

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow some crops in pots or troughs, or even on the windowsill. Cress is an easy starter and you can grow potatoes in sacks. There is so much information to be had on-line and by watching gardening programmes.

Transition Town Letchworth have set up a family learning allotment on the Woolgrove site and would like to hear from any families who live on Jackman’s estate who are interested in learning how to grow vegetables and fruit on their own raised bed (email

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