Christmas is a good time to reflect on what you eat, or over-eat. Every week scientists reveal ways of changing our diet and extend our lives by another few years, so the good news is that we will all live to the age of 250.
The saying “a little of what you fancy does you good” is so true, and gives us a pleasurable sense of guilt every time we finish a box of chocolates in one go.
But the pleasure of picking your own greens over the 7 month winter is immense, both the placebo effect and the actual amount of stuff in it which your body both needs and recognises, including the millions of particles of dirt and benign bacteria which the scientists have also suddenly decided are good for us.
If you haven’t grown before, or are thinking of expanding your veg empire, now is the time to put down a shallow cardboard box on top of grass or over the site of a lately deceased shrub, and fill the box with fully rotted compost. If this works well for you, then you can put planks of timber around and fasten at the corners with a stake to make a longer lasting raised bed. Then in the spring you can sow whatever you want, and there should be few soil pests or weeds.
Leaf crops are the most productive per square inch for a small area, perhaps salads, then rocket and mustards in the winter. As you gain confidence and enthusiasm, you can take in more areas.
We have been annexing parts of our over-large chicken run with great results this year, planted with Sarpo Mirta blight free potatoes, the heaviest of which weighed 913 grams in late October. More large cardboard boxes are ready to be put down in the new year, with chicken wire around it held in place with bamboo.
Time now to wish all readers a rich and fertile Christmas, why does Santa go down the chimney? Because it soots him.