We all love the idea of being able to stroll outside and pick our own fruit and vegetables, but many of us are hampered by a) lack of space, and b) lack of time or knowledge. That’s where Rocket Gardens comes in.
A small business based in Cornwall, Rocket Gardens specialises in organic veg boxes with a difference – their veg boxes don’t contain a finished harvest, but a range of plants ready to grow on. Whenever I’ve grown vegetables in the past I’ve always had a tendency to bung my entire packet of seeds in at once and end up with 100 tomato plants, most of which then go into the compost as I don’t have space for them. The idea of receiving an ‘all-in-one’ garden, which would contain three or four examples of several different plants, is appealing.
As well as several different kinds of complete vegetable gardens, Rocket also stock individual veg and fruit plants and shrubs, all available by post and complete with instructions.
From the range, I plumped for the Patio Container Garden priced at £36.99, which contains chard, rocket, peas, strawberries, perpetual spinach, tomatoes, courgettes, lettuce, runner beans, mizuna and green beans. All are suitable for planting in containers such as pots, troughs, raised beds and window boxes, and you need a total available area of 8m2.
I choose this collection because it contains a lot of the vegetables we eat as a family, and also because, although I do have a reasonably sized garden, there’s no area of it I can press into service as a vegetable plot.
The next thing that happens is the arrival of a very large cardboard box, which appears to be full of straw. Unpacking it carefully, I find tiny salad plugs, tomato plants and everything else nestling in the layers, including, right at the bottom, six healthy-looking strawberry plants complete with strawberries.
Quickly I realise two things – the first is that 8m2 is actually quite a lot of space to find, and the other is that I’m completely disorganised and haven’t even bought any compost. Even pressing every pot I own into use, there’s going to be a bit of a shortfall.
I unpack all my little green sproutlings into buckets and give them some water, then I find some large black bin liners, and a pair of gloves and spend a couple of hours cleaning out our ancient and semi-retired greenhouse.
Finally, I get the shelves swept, the stakes ready, fill a couple of broken window panes as best I can and head off to the garden centre for compost, wondering if it might not, after all, just be easier to pop into the supermarket for some veg. Still, I’m sure it will all be worth it and at least I’ve sorted out the greenhouse, a job I’ve been putting off for at least 18 months!
It takes me several more hours to carefully untangle my plants, find homes for them all and stake the beans, peas and tomatoes. I carefully pick out all the straw and set it on one side to go into the compost bin, then remember I’ll need it for the strawberries and retrieve it again – I am the Organisation Queen!
Finally, at the end of several hours’ graft, I have a perfect, miniature vegetable garden looking extremely professional.
Just one week later, everything’s bedded in nicely and my tomato plants have already grown what looks like a couple of inches. But, disaster has struck – slugs have decimated my salad troughs! Swearing under my breath, I fling around some organic slug pellets and get busy with the copper tape.
Two weeks on, and my anti-pest campaign has worked – my salad’s back on track, my courgettes are bursting out of the pots and my little pea plants are covered with white flowers. Today, I had my first harvest of mixed salad leaves and there’s hardly a dent in the plants.
Rocket Gardens are a fantastic idea for anyone who’s short of time – most of the hard work’s already been done. This would be a great summer project to do with children (particularly if you could then delegate the constant watering!), and there’s the prospect of some organic, homegrown food at the end of it. There’s also the advantage that you look like a much better gardener that you really are!
A friend recently admired my vegetable plants and asked me how I’d found the time. Crossing my fingers behind my back, I replied airily, “Oh, it just all came together by itself at the end!”
You can find out more about Rocket Gardens at www.rocketgardens.co.uk.
Main image: copyright Rocket Gardens
(Disclosure: The product was sent for review, but all views and opinions are our own).