Columnist Simon Tetlow is head gardener at Tatton Park in Knutsford

IT’S at this time of year when you pick up a gardening article and you will read of new potato varieties, early setting of salads and tomatoes among the other reasons and ways we should all have a go growing.

I don’t have any problem with these at all, they inspire, educate and entertain, and they are as seasonal as the best way to drop a dress size for your bikini, best Easter recipes, or fashion tips for the office Christmas party.

However, seeing gardening as a lifestyle option misses the point a little bit.

The act of growing, particularly fruit and veg is an act of independence, a liberating labour of love, an act of defiance.

The Good Life it doesn’t have to be to feel a deep sense of accomplishment while eating your own work.

Growing your own is a punishing, disappointing war of attrition, and only a love of food will push you through.

I’m not selling you a vision of a celebrity chef/gardener’s kitchen garden, dashing out in the summer rain, to pick warm tomatoes from the vine, or the waft of smoke from your outdoor oven as you brush herbs over your organic outdoor reared pork.

Real life doesn’t look like this, that’s why they put it on the telly.

Winsford Guardian:

The desire to grow comes from somewhere other than magazines and the telly, saving money has never really been a great reason for me.

Effort and worry will drive many to the supermarket.

Growing is a route to something else.

When Ashford and Simpson wrote The Onion Song in 1969 for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terri I don’t think for one minute Marvin was interested in putting onion sets in the ground in March for an early onion crop.

It was a metaphor for the civil rights struggle, as much as Booker T’s Green Onions were not about his salad preferences but more his smoking preferences.

Flowers and particularly food and growing are wired to our culture, and it’s often a reaction to personal, or indeed national stress that we look back to the soil.

During the Second World War, the Royal Horticultural Society published the ‘Vegetable Garden Displayed’. It was a no nonsense approach to food production for all, simple and straight forward, where the only bull went in the soil to feed your crops.

It was directed at everybody, where we were expected to make the effort to feed ourselves to supplement our meagre rations.

Trusted sources of information like this have been largely supplemented by the internet, as amazing as that is, and as a gardener nothing beats experience, having a go, and breaking the rules.

We are surrounded by references to growing all the time, many of us enjoy watching Monty swanning around his plot, Jamie picking his veg to cook-up something amazing.

But until we have a go ourselves, enjoy the struggles and grow resilience as well as great food, in whatever small way we can, then I think we start to see growing as a great gift of personal freedom.

Look at your garden as your laboratory, experiment, tinker and toil and have fun, only you are the judge, plant some fruit, plant some veg and explore a world of growing very different to the world of flowers.

Be warned, there will be some tears, but joy as well, and as in Marvin’s silky tones , you will be sowing the seeds of love.

Happy spring

SIMON TETLOW