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Gardening Talent: Meet Lucy Hutchings of SheGrowsVeg

Having swapped a career designing couture jewellery for growing heirloom vegetables, Lucy is sharing her passion for growing through her SheGrowsVeg Instagram feed. Portrait Andrew Montgomery.

Earliest garden memory Crawling through the rows of veg in my mother’s kitchen garden, biting the sprouts straight off the plant. Apparently, it took my mum ages to figure out what rare and unusual pest her veg had fallen victim to.

First plant love Tomatoes – and the infatuation is just as strong to this day. They are just beautiful objects. If I could grow only one thing for the rest of my life, it would be heirloom tomatoes.

Who has inspired your career the most? My two daughters. As a single mum it was important to show them that you can make a career out of something you love, and that with hard work you can do anything you want.

Horticultural heroes I am hugely inspired by the work of plant stylist Hilton Carter and the botanical interiors he creates; I love that he terms it art rather than horticulture. Favourite garden I adore the gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage in Norfolk. Not a millimetre of space has been wasted and it is bursting with a riot of colours, shapes, themes and textures.

Three most worthwhile tips for every gardener Consider branching out from F1 hybrid veg varieties. There are some incredible heirloom varieties and I’ve never found an F1 that can stand up to an heirloom for flavour. Take time to learn about your growing environment; growing conditions can differ dramatically over relatively short distances. Don’t be afraid to experiment and break some rules – it won’t always work but it’s a great way to learn and fun too.

Favourite planting style I’m a sucker for a polyculture- planted, ornamental/edible bed. Edible plants are often confined to regimented rows in the kitchen garden but give them the love afforded to ornamental plants and they have untold beauty to offer. Interplanting them creates a healthier, more naturalised growing environment; mix in some ornamental edibles, such as dahlias and the hyacinth bean or lablab, and you have a stunning garden bed.

One easy thing that every gardener can do to be more sustainable in their gardening Don’t use peat; there is just no need. This is a really easy change we can all make that will have a huge impact on the planet.

Contact Find out more about Lucy at shegrowsveg.com and on Instagram @shegrowsveg. Her new book Get Up And Grow is out now (Hardie Grant Publishing, £16.99).

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