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Urbanites get their fingers Green

City dwellers are lapping up the self satisfaction of feeding their friends and family with their own home grown produce; they’re embracing the shift towards becoming more eco-friendly as they get their hands back in the soil. Sarah Davies, founder of Patch from Scratch, a boutique company that sets clients up with organic vege gardens, cites the increasing awareness of chemicals and pesticides, coupled with the recognition and desire to become more eco-friendly, as driving factors for city dwellers’ increasing interest in vege gardening. “It’s something that’s relatively easy for anyone to do, that does make a difference to the planet, and it creates such a sense of achievement as well”.

Growing your own food changes the way you shop and plan meals. In the Davies household it’s become more of a lifestyle than just a hobby explains Sarah, “When I plan meals for the week I go out into the vege garden, see what is ready to harvest then google for recipes using those veges. Eating with the seasons makes you appreciate food more, those first tomatoes in spring taste phenomenal when it’s been 6 months since you last had one. “

Growing your own food is one of those skills that was generally passed down through generations and was seen as a necessity rather than a hobby. However, to many, the art of growing food was lost as consumerism has taken over. As New Zealanders start feeling the pinch of increased petrol prices and fluctuating supermarket bills, more and more people are realising the benefits of growing your own food. It’s not hard to grow veges but admittedly you do need to know a thing or two before you get started, such as what crop rotation to use, organic methods of pests and disease control as well as plant nourishment. It’s a bit like car maintenance, you can’t just leap under the bonnet and start pulling out wires!

Patch from Scratch fills the knowledge and time gap for the modern individual, family or couple by offering a specialist service to beginner organic gardeners and busy people. They offer a consultancy services for D.I.Y.ers in need of a bit of direction, right through to full service packages. Maintenance packs are supplied to give clients the tools they need to understand how to manage their vege patch in simple, basic terms. Clients range from middle aged bachelors and semi- retired couples to nutrition focussed parents and busy professionals. A clientele Sarah didn’t anticipate attracting was corporate companies, eager to swap the perks of a drinks cabinet and fancy morning teas for a fresh vege garden that everyone can enjoy. One thing they do all have in common is that they want something that looks attractive. Raised beds provide not only a charismatic aesthetic look but are comfortable to work at and eliminate the need to work with unsuitable soil.

Top 10 tips for successful growing

  • Only grow vegetables that you like
  • Start small and expand the vege patch as you go
  • Always mulch to keep weeds to a minimum
  • Plan your crop rotation before you start planting
  • Set up a composting system
  • Only use organic seeds and seedlings, they have the highest nutrition
  • If you go away a lot at weekends, set up an irrigation system from the outset
  • Feed growing plants with organic fertilizer/ make your own
  • The earlier in the day you water the better
  • Veges need six plus hours of sunshine to grow so plan your garden in a sunny spot

See www.patchfromscratch.co.nz for more information.

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