Grow your own food

Grow 650 X 300Do you want to grow your own fruit and veg? All you need to get started is access to earth: be that in your garden, any other land you have access to or even window boxes or pots. Even without a garden it’s possible to have a tray of salad shoots or herbs on a window ledge, tomatoes in your porch and a host of vegetables in pots on your balcony.

Here’s some helpful tips to get you started:
• There are many books and online resources about growing your own fruit and vegetables for you to do your research. You can find general advice on growing your own, as well as guidance for specific fruit and vegetables on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website.
• Start small and plant things you’d really like to eat. If you’re a novice, starting small will help you to build your confidence
• Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of good daytime light
• If growing outside, consider using a raised garden bed, which allows you to control the soil and nutrient blend in the soil
• Talk to other gardeners in your area to get a sense of what grows well in your area and when
• Buy value seeds and plants. You don’t need to go straight to the garden centre – check out the supermarket and household goods stores
• Grow perennials. These are fruit and vegetables that, once planted, come back year after year without you having to do a lot of work. These include rhubarb, apples, pears, plums, chard, broccoli, onions…amongst many others
• Save rainwater. Fruit and vegetables need plenty of water, so it’s a good idea to get a water butt (a large barrel) to catch and store rainwater. This will help you to save water and reduce your metered water bills. Many local councils have schemes to provide subsidised water butts, so check their website. The Save Money Save Water site also sells water butts and has some great tips for saving water.
• Make your own compost. If you want to reduce your food and household waste while making free food for your plants, then composting is for you. You can compost a huge range of waste, including egg shells, apple cores, orange peel, vegetable peelings, dead houseplants, fallen leaves, cardboard, scrap paper, egg cartons and kitchen towels. You can find more information on composting on the RHS website Councils across the UK offer subsidised schemes for composting bins, water butts, caddies and much more. Go to getcomposting and enter your postcode to find out what’s available in your area.

Once you get the hang of growing fruit and veg you may find that you have a bumper crop of fruit and vegetables. What can you do with this excess that you and your family just can’t eat? You could preserve it – perhaps by pickling, freezing or making jam, marmalade or chutney. You could swap your produce with other gardeners. And you could always gift it to friends and neighbours. You may even inspire them to give it a go.

10 of the easiest vegetables to grow in the UK
1. Salad Leaves. Crunchy fresh leaves with a fantastic range of textures and flavours
2. Radishes. Spice up your salads with crunchy, peppery radishes
3. Potatoes
4. Peas
5. Spring onions
6. Broad Beans
7. Runner Beans
8. Onions and Garlic
9. Tomatoes
10. Beetroot

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