Week Three – Interview with Louise – Notes

Louise and her husband currently have a half acre of garden space, if not more. So far they have planted eleven apple trees, pear trees, and grown berries – raspberries, black currents, red currants, blue berries – and regular trees and shrubs. They occasionally grow herbs in pots out the back too.

When it comes to vegetable patches, they did try one about a year ago, but they think it didn’t work out because it was too far away from the kitchen. It was in the front of the garden where the rest of the planting was taking place. They also felt that it might not have had enough sunlight. Also, they went away for a holiday and when they returned, the weeds had taken over. She thinks it needed more attention than they gave it. Pests were a major issue, slugs in particular, and wind and rain.

Louise also mentioned that lack of time, other commitments and lack of knowhow have stopped them from getting it right. Space isn’t the problem. Also there may have been soil issues, as their approach to creating the plot was to just find a spot, turn the soil and plant seeds. But the roots from the grass and weeds seem to take over. She bought her husband a poly tunnel and it’s still sitting there because they didn’t have time to set it up. They were given plants by people who have poly tunnels but they died. People with poly tunnels appear to have a lot better veg. There are huge benefits compared to a regular patch. But still, seasons affect the harvest greatly.

She would love to grow her own veg. She thinks self-sufficiency is excellent, and they have that with everything else other than vegetables. It needs daily attention and they don’t have the time at the moment. Her husband’s brother has a greenhouse. He has grown some fantastic plants, and has roped her into watering them when they go on holiday.

Louise wants to grow a crop of veg out the back. She wants to get involved, but the time issues crop up once again. Knowing when things are ready to be harvested would be good to know, as well as remembering where everything is planted too. She feels that there is a great sense of achievement in nurturing these plants, seeing the produce, eating your own and using them in recipes.

Her main reasons for wanting to grow her own vegetables is so that she will know where they are coming from and know that they’re safe and healthy, whereas in the supermarket she is hoping that they’re not starting to rot, or filled with harmful chemicals. She is also concerned about the fertilisers used, Genetic modifications, and the carbon footprint of supermarket produce.

They look at their neighbour with envy because they now have 2 vegetable patches – the newest one has raised beds that they built themselves. They feel that if one is handy and good at making things, one would be more successful. Their neighbours had the tools, knowhow and access to the correct materials.

If she could control the grass, weeds, and slugs, it would be a great start. Even the idea of making a raised bed appealed to her. She said that if there was an all in one kit which contained the walls, the tools, brackets etc. that would make it much easier. However, if it’s going to cost a lot to get going, maybe it’s outweighing some of the benefit producing your own crops. It might take a long time before it pays off.

Another downside, she mentioned, is that she has a lot of produce that needs to be harvested together, so you’re giving it away to people. Her brother says that she won’t save money growing her own crops. However she has created a bartering system with her neighbours; she gives the apples and other fruit and receives eggs and vegetables.

Main Points:

Space is not an issue

Grows fruit and herbs with no issues

Does not have the time for high maintenance processes

Has issues with:

  • Weeds
  • Pests
  • Over-watering
  • Bad Weather

Barters Fruit for Vegetables and Eggs with the neighbours

Envies the neighbour’s abilities to grow a vegetable plot.

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