Dig for Victory 2 GC
As the nation commemorates VE Day 75 years ago, it’s also worth recalling how the Dig in for Victory campaign kept the nation fed during those times of extreme rationing

Gardeners relied on tried and tested methods to ensure growing success, methods which are still as relevant to us today.

Here are three worth adopting:

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1. Invest in black gold

If you’re throwing kitchen peelings, cardboard, paper, garden waste and wood into the bin, then you’re missing out on turning these materials into black gold – compost.

Around 60 per cent of household waste can be composted. That means there’s an awful lot of stuff that can be used to help your gardening instead of going to landfill.

Compost increases the amount of organic matter in soil and feeds it with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are vital for healthy plants. This improves your soil’s health by boosting nutrients which will make it more productive for growing vegetables and flowers.

Making your own compost will benefit you directly too. Turning a compost heap is good exercise, while being in nature will make you feel good and help reduce stress.

Composting is a great way of helping the environment, living more sustainably and reducing your carbon footprint.

2. Save seeds, save money

The coronavirus crisis has led to an explosion of demand for vegetable seeds, with most companies deluged with orders.

Saving seeds not only ensures you will get plants that you know you will like but will also save you money.

Many family favourites can be grown from collected seeds including beans (broad, French and runner), tomatoes, broccoli, cabbages and kale.

One important thing to remember is don’t save seed from F1 hybrid plants, as they won’t produce.

The Real Seed Company have produced useful guides to saving seeds.

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3. Rotate your crops

A proven way of keeping soil healthy and preventing plant diseases is rotating where you grow your vegetables.

A good principle to observe is avoid growing any crop in the same place two years running.

By doing so you not only prevent nutrients being removed, but pests and diseases that attack specific plants from building up.

For example, potatoes should not be grown in the same bed year after year as this is likely to encourage potato cyst eelworm in the soil.

Our most common vegetables come from six families. Keep each family of veg together and move them around to new beds each year.

A classic four-year rotation cycle that would have been adopted during the war years would be:

  • Year 1: potatoes
  • Year 2: legumes
  • Year 3: brassicas
  • Year 4: onions and roots

The thinking behind rotating is that each previous crop has benefits for the subsequent crop.

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Mary and Imogen