The Vegetable Garden
Growing food organically in urban areas can play a big role in creating a more diverse, resilient and healthy environment and food system, and have benefits on our physical and mental health. It is also intimately linked to other activities like cooking, preserving food, seed saving and managing waste, all of them essential to achieving a more sustainable future. Because of this, growing vegetables, fruits and herbs organically and sharing our experiences around it is one of our main endeavours. It takes place in our vegetable garden, but also beyond, as every inch of growing space we can add to urban areas can make a big difference.
From a birds’ eye view, the raised beds of our kitchen garden look like the seeds of a fruit. They are designed with circularity in mind because, as growing food teaches us, everything in nature is circular and we at OmVed look at nature as a model. These unique beds, made of weathering steel in different sizes, not only look great but also help us avoid soil compaction, reduce the amount of soil and water needed, protect crops from slugs and snails, maintain warmth and make walking and working around them easier and safer. The plot is surrounded by an orchard of pleached apple trees that creates a natural hedge around it. As the site develops, we are adding additional growing spaces in other areas of the garden.
We have been using sandy soil, which has allowed roots to penetrate and aerate really well, and by adding compost from our own waste workshop we have achieved a balanced mix that has enabled successful growth. Taking care of our soil is essential for the health of our plants and the environment, so it is something we are deeply engaged in, constantly looking at natural ways to improve it.
Together with the quality of our soil, the quality of our seeds is also highly important, as they are the basis of our food system.
Some of the things we grow include Acocha, Amaranth (Callaloo), Basil, Beans (Hopi Black & 'Kinghorn Wax Dwarf French Bean), Beetroot (Burpee’s golden & Chioggia), Bok Choi, Bunching Onions, Cabbage, Calendula, Carrot (Purple dragon, Gniff, Jaune Obtuse de Doube), Celeriac (Tellus), Chard (Rainbow), Chicory, Corn salad, Courgette (Cocozelle di Tripoli, Rondo de Nizza), Edible Lupin, Garlic, Kale (Red Russian, Cavolo Nero, Curly & Westland Winter), Lavander, Miner’s Lettuce, Mustard Leaf, Potatoes (pink gipsy, golden wonder), Purple mangetout, Radish (White Icicle & Red Meat), Rocket, Rosemary, Sage, Shallots, Sorrel, Soybeans (Gaia), Spinach (Perpetual), Spring Onions, Squash (Queensland Blue, Homestead Sweet Meat, Red Kuri), Sunflower (Russian Giant), Sweetcorn (Sativa Late), Tiger Nuts (Yellow Nutsedge), Tomato (Blue Fire, Fablonelistnyj, Costoluto Fiorentino, Stamford Ugly, Scotland Yellow, Black Cherry Zebra, Orange Striped Derby), Turnip (Purple Top Globe) and Wild Carrot.
We have grown them from seeds from different varieties where possible, either saved by Vicky, our Head Gardener, or sourced from organic seed companies. Seed saving is very important to preserve seed diversity, which has been reduced dramatically in the last 100 years making our food resources extremely limited and vulnerable. In our aim to contribute to protecting biodiversity and food security, we save our seeds and we have launched a community of seed savers, the Seed Saving Network. This initiative is intended to raise awareness of the importance of preserving seeds, get people growing (even if on a small scale) and get them and their environment healthy, fostering more resilient and diverse food systems.