PUBLISHED: 08:51 21 December 2012 | UPDATED: 22:31 20 February 2013
Bob Flowerdew inspires us to grow organically
For more than three decades, Bob Flowerdew authority on organic gardening and panellist on Gardeners Question Time has been inspiring us to grow organically with his own abundant garden at Dickleburgh.
Everything is rosy in the garden at Dickleburgh. There may be an official drought, pouring rain and the never-ending gardening jobs to be done as always, but Bob Flowerdew couldnt be happier: The soil is beautiful and the plants are all in good order, he says.
Its been this way ever since the farmers son realised the office wasnt the place for him . . . and that the garden was.
His family have been tilling the land around Norfolk and Suffolk since Tudor times, and Bob is the fifth generation to live at Dickleburgh. But he didnt come to the garden immediately. At school Bob focused on the sciences and at college studied engineering, eventually leaving university with an honours degree in financial, management and cost accountancy.
After tasting business life in London though, Bob decided to put his life on to a different track, travelling extensively and gradually becoming fascinated by the different farming and gardening methods he was discovering around the world.
When he rediscovered the land at Dickleburgh and felt the pull of organics, Bob with soil on his hands and his trademark long pony-tail immersed himself in studying, understanding and practising organic methods on the three-quarters of an acre he has been tending for what is now 30 years.
I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing, he smiles. People get so caught up in the world of money that they forget there are things which are so much better. It is about the quality of life and I would rather be working in the garden that sitting in the office or working out in a gym.
He is hoping to inspire more people to follow his lead back to their gardens and the organic way of gardening with his newly revised Bob Flowerdews Organic Gardening Bible, a comprehensive guide to gardening in a more natural, sustainable and pleasurable way.The first edition was published in 1998 and much has changed in our approach to food and gardening in the years since.
I have never tried to sell organics on the basis of saving the planet the whole thing for me was that it tasted fantastic!
"It is quite gratifying that the world seems to have come round more to my point of view, says Bob, father of seven-year-old twins. I have never tried to sell organics on the basis of saving the planet the whole thing for me was that it tasted fantastic!
Bob has completely revised his invaluable guide to natural and sustainable gardening, Bob Flowerdews Organic Gardening Bible, with beautiful photography from his Norfolk garden.
In this powerful extract, Bob explains why he is such a passionate advocate of the organic approach.
Since I wrote the first edition, the whole world has faltered and peoples consciousness altered with it.
The effects of climate change are becoming obvious to almost everyone, with weather-related disasters striking people in countries across the globe.
Food prices are escalating, pushing yet more of the developing world into hunger and threatening even the more affluent with prospective shortages.
Water resources are running out in places used to growing products to send to us, while their own people descend yet further towards starvation.
We watch aghast as our young become swollen couch potatoes, their obvious discomfort caused not by disease but by self-inflicted excessive consumption, leading to malnutrition.
The looming threat of GM foods multiplies previous concerns about toxic residues, micro-biological contamination and animal welfare.
Consumers are rightly suspicious of deceit, malpractice and even criminal behaviour by some in the food chain.
We stand by helpless as family concerns are swallowed up by multinational agri-chemi-medi-corporations possessing
no ethics or morality other than the bottom line.
All this is but a foretaste of more impending disasters yet our leaders do little. It is no wonder the affluent have abandoned the cities for homesteads in the country. Those who cannot flee have sensibly retaken allotments whilst gardening guerillas tend vacant and unused patches of land wherever they can be found.
We are obliged to think and act greener if we wish to leave a world worth living in for our grandchildren. For, despite all the negativity, hope persists.
We are becoming greener, albeit too slowly, but nonetheless we are moving in a more positive direction. The fact that you are right now reading this gives us hope. We can save the world, but it will take just as long as it has taken to make this mess in the first place.
And it is for each of us to do our part. To reduce our excessive consumption to more modest levels. To tend and nurture our resources and steward the beautiful creation this planet still it. And most of all to take control and grow out own food and flowers in natural, organic and sustainable ways.
Fortunately, provided you can find a bit of ground, it is actually very easy. Growing your own is simple, straightforward and rather enjoyable.
The healthy, fresh air and exercise is far superior for your body and soul than the sterile gym or supermarket aisle.
With birdsong and butterflies and nature all around you it is amazing how good you soon start to feel.
And growing your own has become even easier. In place of poisons we have methods of wit and cunning to outmanoeuvre pests and diseases, we can encourage or purchase natural predators to assist us, while improved resistant varieties and innovations such as horticultural fleeces keep other pests at bay.
Bob Flowerdews Organic Gardening Bible (Kyle Books), priced 25.