The impact of agriculture and farming on our environment are pretty well documented. Whilst we can’t all be experts in organic and sustainable farming, there is something we can do to help! The ‘road miles’ involved in delivering food to our plate is a level of destruction that we could easily reduce by taking a few simple steps to grow our own produce!
We know that time is difficult to find in our busy diaries, and that we may not all have expansive gardens to sow next years crop … so here’s a few tips on getting started! And the added benefit is that gardening reportedly has a positive effect on our mental health! Everyone’s a winner!
Apparently onions are an aphrodisiac so having an ‘on-site’ supply could have multiple uses! But on a more serious note, onions are such a versatile and staple part of our diets as they can be added to pretty much every meal. So growing your own not only saves on ‘food miles’, it can also save you quite a bit of cash!
They are super easy to grow and if you store them correctly they can last for up to 8 months.Try planting bulbs around spring time and then just leave them to get on with growing. Just make sure that they have enough water! Onions are suitable for general garden planting or in ‘grow bags’ if you’re short on soil space. Have a look at the Good Housekeeping Guide to growing onions for more info.
A household favourite! And we think they actually taste much better when they’re grown in our own gardens! Whether you’re a fan of chips, mash, boiled or roast … potatoes have become a staple of most evening meals.
Potatoes can easily be grown in the garden, grow-bags or even old bins/sacks that you can repurpose! They’re happy to grow just about anywhere (even behind our ears according to my Grandma).
Just half-fill up your bin or bag with compost and plant a couple of whole potatoes. Not too many or the roots won’t have space to grow. Once the green shoots appear just cover with more compost … and repeat until the bag is full. Your tasty potatoes will be ready to eat once the foliage starts to wither. Just don’t forget to water them!
We always feel like accomplished chefs when we add our own home-grown herbs to a dish … but that might just be us! Growing herbs at home is so simple and it saves on a lot of waste when you buy them from the supermarket. Often we just need a little sprig, so you can pick it from the plant as and when you need it.
You can use a window box, pots or hanging baskets to grow your herb garden. Either grow from seed or buy a potted plant to get you started. Take your pick from mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, chives … the list goes on. Perfect for brightening up your evening meals!
Whilst you might have to remortgage your house to enjoy strawberries and cream at Wimbledon this year, growing your own can be both rewarding and low-cost!
Perfect for adding a bit of extra goodness to your breakfast cereal or to top off a naughty dessert. Personally, we like strawberries in our gin glass!
Easy to plant in pots, grow bags or in the main garden where they won’t become too waterlogged. And if you look after them, they can reproduce year after year! How’s that for a garden investment?
Plant in the spring or autumn in a sunny but sheltered spot and you’ll soon be tasting that home-grown goodness with your breakfast!
How often do we find a bag of limp lettuce at the bottom of the fridge that we just hadn’t got round to using? By growing our own salad we just pick the leaves as and when we need them … meaning less waste and much less cost!
With so many varieties to choose from you can plant a mix of salad leaves to give your plate a bit of added interest! Grow your salad in a window box, pots or in the ground if you have space. They grow quickly so if you plant at the right time you should have leaves ready to eat in around 4 weeks time.
Just beware of an invasion of slugs! A quick tip to keep the little blighters away is to place some crushed eggshells around the plants to ward them off. They’ll find plenty to eat elsewhere!
Feeling hot, hot hot? If you like a bit of added spice to your salads and meals then plant a few peppers this year. Perfect to grow in a pot on your windowsill so you don’t need acres of space in your garden!
Plant a few pots with different types of seed and keep them watered. Then just watch them grow! Hey presto! If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous with your meals then you can always give chillis a try! Hot or not they will be sure to spice up your dinner!
Love it or hate it … celery is a really simple veg to grow at home. It is one of those clever plants that can reproduce from scraps, so when you’ve eaten what you wanted just put the roots in some water and watch the regeneration!
Just pop the root in a cup of water by your window, making sure that it isn’t totally submerged. Then just spray the tips occasionally to make sure that they don’t dry out. After about a week … a new growth will appear, ready to be transplanted to a pot of soil!
This technique can also work with spring onions, avocados and ginger, but we haven’t tried those out yet! If you’ve done it then why not let us know how it went!
‘Give Peas A Chance’ as they say! There’s a bit more prep involved in growing peas, but we think its worth it just to enjoy the picking and shelling process. A great Sunday afternoon family activity before we prep for dinner!
Peas need to be sown directly in to the ground between March and June, and they’ll be ready to harvest after 2 to 3 months in the right conditions. You need to plant some canes alongside them to support the stems as they grow. And the great news is … the more pods you pick … the more they grow!
Here’s a bit more expert advice from BBC Gardening on how to grow your own peas!
Rhubarb and custard! So many memories! Perfect for baking pies and crumbles, and super simple to grow at home.
The easiest way to grow rhubarb is to get some young plants and pop them in your garden or in a pot on your patio. They do need pretty good soil so it might be worth investing in some from your local garden centre.
But once you’ve planted, rhubarb tends to grow in abundance so you’ll be sure to get your investment back. In fact you’ll probably have enough left to give as a ‘peace offering’ to your neighbour after the noisy BBQ you had last weekend!
Raw or cooked … we love carrots! Add them to salads, as a side-dish or as a staple ingredient in casseroles and stir frys. Our mantra is that ‘there is a place for a carrot at every meal’. Okay that isn’t our mantra, but you get the point!
Perfect in a raised bed or in deep, well-drained soil so that they can grow nice and big! Sow them anywhere between early spring and late August, ready to be harvested all-year round. Check the seed packet of your chosen variety to make sure that you plant at the right time and give them the best care!
And for a fun project with the kids, why not trying growing from a left over carrot top. They might not fill the plate but it’s a great way for the next generation to learn about sustainability!