Archbishop, have you actually tried to grow your own food?

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So the Archbishop of Canterbury has been spouting forth on how we should all be cultivating our own crops. Dr Williams’ view is that this would negate the need for importing veg and so combat climate change. It’s certainly a noble idea. But I wonder if the Archbishop – speaking from the comfort of Lambeth Palace – is necessarily acquainted with the practicalities of feeding a family exclusively from your own garden.

This is my third year of being at the coal face of cultivating veg. I’ve now sacrificed most of my garden at the altar of veg growing (I’ve been on a waiting list for an allotment for 3 years and still little sign I’ll ever get one). After months of painstaking sowing, labeling, pricking out, thinning out, feeding, watering, staking and praying, I shall now reveal my successes for 2009:

  • Lettuce/salad: fair bit, especially after we ditched the chickens
  • Peas: about 30 pods
  • Salad potatoes: around 50 bite-sized specimens
  • Tomatoes: 20
  • Jerusalem artichokes: not one, despite assurances in catalogue of a ‘foolproof’ crop
  • Shallots: paltry
  • Garlic: ditto
  • Broccoli: decimated by blasted slugs
  • Baby carrots: hurrah, finally cracked these! About 40
  • Alpine strawberries: 2 that survived predators, despite assiduous netting
  • Radishes: 8
  • Sweetcorn: 1 half-formed mini cob
  • Beetroots: a few promising leaves but no sign of an actual beetroot
  • Pumpkins: never had a chance against the pesky chickens
  • Courgettes: 2, plus 1 that was left by mistake and grew into an impressively-sized, but utterly tasteless, marrow
  • Cucumbers: 1. A late entry but my pride and joy. Picked this morning amidst much pomp and ceremony and shared out once we peeled off the evil spikes all over it.

So there you go, Dr Williams – not really enough to feed a family of five for a year is it?