Slow Living Series: Growing My Own Food

It’s a swelteringly hot day in London and I simply can’t be bothered to move.

Between hugging the air-conditioner and drinking gallons of water, I managed to stumble across the term slow living while browsing online. How fitting – everyone seems to be moving at a sloth-like pace today!

So, what exactly is slow living?

According to Wikipedia, ‘Slow living is a lifestyle emphasising slower approaches to aspects of everyday life. The concept of ‘slow’ lifestyles started with the slow food movement, which emphasises more traditional food production processes as a reaction to fast food and emerged in Italy during the 1980s and 1990s.’

I’ve always loved the idea of living mindfully, of building a life with meaning. These days it seems like the busier you are, the more respected and successful you are seen to be. But studies have shown that constantly being rushed off your feet can actually be detrimental to your health. Is it really worth it?

The slow movement is forging a new path towards a more thoughtful way of living, giving people the tools to cultivate a life that they love at a relaxed pace.

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This lifestyle has inspired me to start a series here on From The Pumpkin Patch. I’ll be taking an in-depth look at different aspects of slow living and showing how I incorporate them into my life – we’ll be learning and growing together!

If you’re a long-term reader of this blog, you won’t be surprised to learn that I decided to start with food. What better example of slow living than growing my own vegetables and become as self-sustained as possible?

As we don’t have our own garden (hello, apartment life!) we teamed up with Elliott’s parents, Kathy and Deni. They have more than enough space for a vegetable planter and love the idea of growing our own produce.

In the spirit of slow living, we decided not to purchase a store-bought planter. So on a sunny Sunday morning, Deni and I set out to build our own!

We started with four 3m planks of wood and cut them down into eight pieces – four ends and four sides. Then we screwed them together to form two rectangular outlines.

Next, we levelled the ground and screwed one rectangular shape on top of the other. Then we cut black plastic sheets to fit and stapled them to the insides to prevent the wood from rotting.

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Deni got hold of some copper pipes and rigged up a clever contraption covered in thin netting to keep birds and other wildlife (including Fujin!) away from our precious vegetables. The whole thing swings open like a lid, making it easy to water and tend to the plants.

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All in all, it took just a couple of hours and was completely worth the effort! We are now the proud owners of a completely professional-looking planter filled with organic soil.

Now for the fun part – planting!

Armed with hours of online research (thanks, Kathy!) we ventured out to our local garden centre to forage for supplies.

As this was our first serious attempt at growing our own produce, we decided to start small with kale, lettuce, carrots and onions. Of course, we couldn’t forget our usual tomato plants in separate pots!

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It was so much fun to scoop out a little hole for each plant, place them gently in the soil and then pat down the dirt. Much more interesting and enjoyable than visiting my local supermarket!

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It may not look like much in the above photos, but after just one month our little vegetable patch was flourishing. The frail-looking stalks of curly kale were replaced with bushes full of crisp leaves, while the lettuces grew plump and juicy and the carrot tops shot towards the sky.

We took advantage of the warm weather and harvested our first batch of homegrown kale!

Just look at those colours.

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By chance, we had planned an outdoor barbecue feast for the same day. When the sun shines in England, you need to make the most of it!

I took the opportunity to whip up a fresh kale salad as a healthy side dish, and picked a handful of crisp lettuce leaves to go inside our plant-based burgers.

Everything tastes much better when you grow it yourself!

I can’t wait to see how the carrots and onions turn out, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for that. I guess that’s why they call it slow living.

This little experiment has been such a success that we have decided to venture into new territory!

As luck would have it, we were gifted a couple of old delivery crates recently which we repurposed into three smaller planters. We have big plans for them – think kabocha squash, baby potatoes, leeks, purple carrots and spinach. I can’t think of a more perfect autumn harvest!

So far, I’m really enjoying these slower-paced tweaks to my lifestyle. I hope you’ll follow along with this series and incorporate a few of my findings into your own daily life – if nothing else, it’s a lot of fun!

What do you think of the slow living movement?

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