Me and my garden: ‘I grew my first apple tree when I was 12’

We lived in a suburban terraced house in Luton. My parents grew their own veg in the back garden – turnips, radishes, cucumbers, herbs, fenugreek, beans – because that’s what they did when they were growing up in Bangladesh


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Me and my garden: ‘I grew my first apple tree when I was 12’” was written by Jane Perrone, for The Guardian on Saturday 30th July 2016 09.59 UTC

I have always tried to experiment. I grew my first apple tree from a granny smith when I was about 12; the apples were dry and quite small but they were great for pickling and we’d make weird fruit salsas with them.

We lived in a suburban terraced house in Luton. My parents grew their own veg in the back garden – turnips, radishes, cucumbers, herbs, fenugreek, beans – because that’s what they did when they were growing up in Bangladesh. They used to sell bunches of coriander to the local Kashmiri stores.

Now, I don’t need to grow anything in bulk. I am more interested in the process, so you get little patches of weird stuff going on in the garden. I brought some water morning glory from an Asian store in Luton, put a stalk in water and it’s rooted. I ate it when I was in Bangladesh with my mum for a holiday – delicious.

I want to see what will grow without much from me, because I am a lazy gardener. In my pond I am growing watercress; there’s loads of it, so I use it in the kitchen. At the back of the garden, I have rear-ended some pallets and put grow bags inside them. I’ve planted Japanese wineberry to cover the fence and find out what they taste like.

I’m into foraging as well. I’ve yet to find my first ramsons (wild garlic). I don’t necessarily want to eat it, just to know it’s there: it’s this idea that we might enter a post-apocalyptictic world, and I can have a map of where all the edible stuff is.

I love it when Bedford is exploding with poppies. My daughter, Roxy, picks the seedheads and puts them in a crisp packet. She loves the idea that dock leaves soothe nettle stings; that plants are not just weeds, they are part of an ecology. When I was roaming around as a kid, that gave me a lot of comfort; I understood plants better than people.

I got my chickens last October. I like the idea that we could be semi self-sustaining. We are somewhere that’s quite urban, but it doesn’t have to feel like that in the back garden. And there’s the joy of getting an egg in the morning.

My favourite spot

My shed is an office and craft centre. It’s a bit dirty and messy, but who cares? I can spend my time with Roxy, hear the chickens and birds, and leave the door open to get fresh air.

How does your garden grow? Email gardens@theguardian.com

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