The smell of freshly turned earth and of refreshing, nourishing rain after a dry spell; the bright red of the first juicy, plump tomato on the vine; those first green tufts fighting their way through the soil from a carefully nurtured seedling - all of these natural joys are just a few of those to celebrate during National Allotment Week, which runs from Monday August 13th to Sunday August 19th.
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Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have an allotment, or even a garden, of their own. Waiting lists can be long and ground tough to work, but those beautiful moments listed above make all of that hard work and patience oh so worth it.
So, how can you still enjoy getting a little closer to nature even if you don't have an allotment? Here are a few ideas:
What to grow in your vegetable patch
You can be forgiven for getting a little carried away and planting just about every type of vegetable you can get your hands on when you're in the first flush of home-growing excitement. However, it's important to think about what type of soil is in your garden, how much time you'll have to provide your produce with the care that it needs, and what you're likely to eat - you don't want to be growing veg only for it to end up going to waste.
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Herbs and salad leaves are always a good starting point, as you can simply snip bits off these to wash and eat, leaving the rest of the plant to grow further, meaning you don't have to worry about picking the entire harvest and it going to waste. Chives, basil, oregano, kale, spinach, chard and lettuce would all be good options.
Beetroot is one of the easiest root vegetables to grow, and its vibrant colour and beautiful taste makes it a joy to watch as it blossoms. Carrots take a little more work and not all soil types are conducive to growing them, while you ideally need a greenhouse for taking on tomatoes, and a lot of time and patience for peas and runner beans, which can become unruly unless regularly tamed.
But if you have the time and space for growing your own, what better opportunity to get started than during National Allotment Week?
Start a windowsill allotment
If space is compromised, a miniature windowbox or windowsill allotment is a lovely alternative. Herb and vegetable shoots will add a little extra interest to a room, and as long as you've got space to water your plants and turn the soil with small tools from time to time, you can grow pretty much anything from your window - perhaps not larger items like onions or potatoes though!
A windowsill allotment is a good way to experiment with whether or not the grow-your-own lifestyle is something you can really commit to, so give it a go. If it turns out that you're not the green-fingered kind, perhaps pledge to always buy organic instead.
Cook with your home-grown produce
When growing your own veg, you may find that there are times when you end up with an abundance of beans or tomatoes or carrots, meaning you can give plenty away to family and friends.
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While it's lovely to share your home-grown produce with loved ones, make sure you save plenty for yourself too. You can't get fresher and healthier food; it'll be absolutely packed with nutrients and goodness, so enjoy beautifully fresh salads, veg-packed pasta dishes and homemade curry pastes packed with all of those fresh, flavoursome herbs.
Fill your home with the freshest fragrances of all
Even if an allotment, whether full-size or window-based, isn't an option, you can still enjoy the fresh scent of home-grown produce thanks to the newly rebranded Kitchen Garden Candles range from Heyland & Whittle.
They make the perfect table centrepiece - you could even plan your menu around them to add another dimension to your flavours. Imagine a beautifully herbed, tomato-based pasta sauce enjoyed with a crisp green salad from your vegetable patch as the unique scent of our Tomato & Herb Kitchen Garden Candle permeates the air.