Sunday, 14 December 2008

Is it really CHEAPER to grow your own?

Connected with my alter ego - BBC GARDENER'S QUESTION TIME on the radio today. (For non-Brits - this is a radio show which started up more than thirty years ago).

Opposites don't always attract - I'd got fed up with the programme in the past, as they only seemed to be talking about obscure (and expensive) flowers I'd never heard of.

Lately though, I've been listening in more regularly as they seem to be doing (more useful and free) tips on fruit and vegetable growing. Today's offering featured a question close to our budget conscious hearts:

'IS IT REALLY CHEAPER TO GROW YOUR OWN?' (especially with the supermarkets battling it out with discount fruit and veg...)

Peter Seabrook (Gardening Editor of 'The Sun'), Juliet Roberts (editor of 'Gardens Illustrated') and Tim Rumball (of 'Amateur Gardening' magazine) exchanged contrasting views.

Tim kicked off the debate with a suprisingly critical take on mainstream gardening media:

'I'm a fanatic fruit and veg grower - but I do think though that we have a PROBLEM...and that problem is that we are leading the public astray (I've been guilty of this) by encouraging them to grow fruit and vegetables at home with the false promise that it is EASY and that it will save them money - the truth is that it NOT EASY and it almost certainly won't save you money. There's no more certain way of putting people off gardening than FAILURE.'

Juliet reckoned your own veg plot might not save you money, but for the 'greater good' it was important, as it reduced freight costs, environmental costs and packaging.

Peter wished 'more of the media people would actually grow their own', as the 'advice new entrants received was often misleading'.

Here are the panel's positive tips in brief:
  1. Grow your own, it's a fantastic thing to do, you'll get the best produce ever, you can experiment - but be prepared to spend a little time learning and getting it right.

  2. Buy some books, seek out some gardening friends, learn as much as you can - have fun whilst you are experimenting...

  3. Try and find a MENTOR...and when they give you advice, and if it doesn't work GO BACK TO THEM - don't get advice from lots of sources.

All in all, quite a good discussion - what a shame no one on the panel mentioned ORGANIC GROWING and how it can save you money, resources, CO2 emissions...

(If you didn't catch GARDENER'S QUESTION TIME today, use the LISTEN AGAIN function on the BBC website - click here:

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