Grow Your Own – Dig for Britain! (and Yourself)

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At the time of writing this post we in the United Kingdom have entered unchartered waters due entirely to the virus we now know as Covid-19 or Coronavirus.

What most people have probably not understood yet is the significant changes to our lives for at least the next twelve months, and maybe even longer? For those of us who have already tried to follow the panic buyers, comes the realisation that food is likely to become just one of those significant changes. The Tree Bee team are food producers (or our bees are) so we might understand the implications of that more than most. However, because we are the positive cup half full types, I plan to give you a series of articles to explain the positive steps we are taking to minimise the impacts of this horrible disease on our lives and encourage you to Grow Your Own from Home!

So without getting all doom and gloom let us have a look at the implications of what has just happened to our food supply chain and then look at what the Tree Bee team will do about it and maybe by following our lead that can help you out too.

What’s the Issue With Food?

Any trip to a supermarket and a close inspection of the packaging reveals not surprisingly that the vast majority of our perishable food like fruit and vegetables does not despite the marketing hype of supporting British growers come from Britain or British growers. We know all about this from watching years of inferior honey being sold at prices producers of real honey could never get near to, but that is another story for one of my colleagues to write on another day.

The countries of origin on the packing on our fruit and vegetables is global, far-away countries like Chile or Vietnam are not uncommon. Bringing produce from these countries involves picking the fruit raw, deep refrigeration along the journey and ripening with Nitric Oxide gas and Ethylene is common, honest! (Google it). This in my humble opinion is one reason that supermarket fruit and vegetables is bland and tasteless. As well as the long haul food, a lot of what we eat comes from Europe and here lies one problem we might have going forward because of Covid-19.

Unprecedented events across the world, including Europe, have caused borders to close due to health concerns and the grounding of 85% of the worlds airliners. Aeroplanes carry passengers but they also carry goods, the knock on effect of closed borders and grounded aircraft alone is likely to cause an economic tsunami. Sadly lives will be lost and restricting the movement of people will inevitably impact fresh food production, packaging, transport and the distribution of what food is produced.

I am not for one minute suggesting that there is not going to food in the supermarkets, but I am suggesting that maybe in the short term and until life returns to normal it might be wise not to rely entirely on supermarkets for fresh food that we can easily grow ourselves. Our plan is to increase the number of bees this year but also to grow our own fruit, vegetables and herbs to supplement what we can buy from the shops.

Today instead of panic buying we visited the local garden centres to buy seeds, compost and a few simple seed trays to get the growing started. Over the rest of this year, I’m going to show you how we go about growing our own, we can pass any excess onto elderly relatives or neighbours – hopefully you can pick up some tips to grow your own as well!

How can you Grow Your Own?

We’re planting potatoes, onions, carrots, spring onions, sweet peppers, rocket, sweet corn, courgette, mange tout, tomatoes, mint, peas, strawberries and I have today pruned back our grape vine. Most if not all of these plants will be pollinated by our bees, helping them out too. We are lucky we have a greenhouse and land available to achieve what we want, but a lot of what we can grow will also do just fine in planters on the patio or even window boxes.

Every bit helps, so dig for Britain and grow your own!

Andy Reade
Andy Reade
Andy is an environmental scientist and freelance journalist. He specialises in investigative environmental data journalism and citizen science. His specialist subject areas are, the Built, Natural and Living Environment. He is a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv), also a Chartered Waste manager (MCIWM). He holds a MSc in Sustainable Waste Management and Environmental Policy, Leadership and Law from the University of Central Lancashire. A graduate from the British College of Journalism, Andy has spent most of his career authoring technical documents for waste management and environmental organisations including government bodies.

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