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Barbara Panvel digs the growing trend for growing your own.

A growing number of people in the West Midlands are growing or buying wholesome food free from fungicide and pesticide sprays.

I visited Dorothy Peart's garden in Balsall Heath, where for years she has grown fruit and vegetables, and was greeted by a lively group of the neighbourhood's children who help and learn from her.

In the front garden was the first of many 'slug pubs' - dishes containing beer in which slugs and snails drown - leaving some of the vegetables for the grower.

Tomatoes, black-currants, Chinese artichokes, beetroot, cabbage, spinach and carrots were growing in the narrow back garden, fertilised by the home-made compost, worm-compost and nettle and comfrey liquid feed in three bins nearby.

Earlier that day the children filled seed trays in a small polytunnel in which they were going to sow lamb's lettuce.

Runner beans and other vegetables were growing in the garden of a neighbour who lets Dorothy use the land and takes a share of the vegetables.

To get staples such as wheat and potatoes, Dorothy advocates building links with local farmers who can get a fair price by selling direct and reduce the charge to those who offer some weekend work.

Larger households often haven't enough land on which to grow fruit and vegetables and some decide to rent an allotment - the next port of call is Hall Green . . .

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