Want To Start Growing Your Own Food? Here Are 3 Things I’ve Learned

Winter is the perfect time to start getting your space ready for next year. Throughout the five years that I’ve been growing my own food I’ve picked up lots of advice. Here are 3 Things I’ve Learned Through My Growing Journey So Far:

1 – Only Grow Radish If You Love Eating It

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This is a really important first point. If you’re eager to start your growing journey, don’t grow everything that someone on a blog or in a book has, especially if you don’t like it.

Start small and start with your favourites.

Whilst homegrown food can make all veggies taste miles better, you’ll still end up wasting time, effort and produce because you really don’t like certain crops.

In my case, it’s celery and celeriac and all of the aniseed-flavoured vegetables. I’m still not a huge fan of radish either and can really take or leave Jerusalem artichokes. So I don’t set aside space for any of these things, instead focusing on my favourite food. Pumpkins and squash fill the plot, tomatoes and peppers grow nice and ripe in the greenhouse and the strawberries and raspberries surprise me year after year.

Every year I treat it like my first. I sit down and plan out what I want to grow depending on what I like to eat.

However, it’s also about what is going to reward you the most. As a vegetarian, I need lots of protein and iron from my food so I choose to grow leafy greens and peas and beans over broccoli. This is because I know I can get more meals out of a pot or plot of beans than I can from broccoli. The same often applies to potatoes, which take up huge amounts of space.

With Small Space Garden launching officially next year, I’ll be offering guides on some of the best crops that you can grow for nutrition as well as for quantity and ease.

2 – Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

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It can be easy, as I found out, to grow a ton of plants in the first year, yet when it comes to maintaining the plants, you’ll find yourself swamped. With only a couple of hours to spare you want to keep only a few really productive crops at first.

If you’re a single parent, work over 40 hours a week or you’re busy in other ways, most plants will cope very well with just one watering a week. Unless the weather is scorching, you can leave them in peace most of the time. With some tomatoes you’ll need to pinch the tips out and stake the stems to support and encourage fruit. I’ll be creating several handy guides for tomatoes next year, so watch this space!

3 – If You’ve Only Grown One Leek This Year, It’s Still An Achievement

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One of three leeks I managed to grow this year

Weather, slugs and poor seed stock can make growing your own a bit of a nightmare. Whilst slugs and the weather can be controlled to some extent, there is always something else around the corner. What is important to remember for any budding grower and gardener is that even the one tomato you’ve harvested from the ill-looking vine is a powerful thing.

Growing your own food isn’t just about the harvest – although that is very important. It’s also about the power and the independence. The connection with the earth and with nature, no matter how big or small. By nuturing a plant through to fruit, you have taken control of your food and you have engaged with the whole process. Trust me, the world looks like a very different place! After all, gardening is cool and growing food that you can eat and cook meals with is even cooler.

What have you learnt on your allotment, garden or balcony this year? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

The Grow Your Own Food Challenge

I’ve spent quite a lot of the last four years working out how I can stop buying supermarket vegetables altogether. However, in truth, the food revolution starts with just one plant.

It doesn’t matter if you choose to grow a huge courgette plant or you sprout a few pea shoots for salads: the end result is still the same. When you come to harvest your crop, you will see just how great tasting real, fresh food is.

How do I convince you that growing your own food is actually cool?

You see, I could use this blog to talk about growing your own food until the cows quite literally come home. The best way that I can show you about growing your own food is by doing it myself. I’m not talking about long videos and blog posts about how big my pumpkins were this year.

No, the Grow Your Own Food Challenge will guide you through growing easy, fun crops like tomatoes, chillies, micro-salad plots and windowsill peashoots. Everything will be achievable with just an hour or two to spare in the week and myself and my blogging friends will be presenting everything in clear, short bites.

I split my time up between working in a supermarket, writing for a newspaper and creating content for a garden centre. My weeks are full of work – and, although I’d love to live on my allotment, I can’t. Through this lack of time, I’ve learnt to garden and grow food easily, efficiently and without much effort at all.

If I can do it, you can too.

Like what you see? Check out the Facebook group where all the action will be happening and keep following the blog. Don’t settle for second-best – this year, set yourself the challenge of growing your own food. Re-energise your food, live healthily and take care of your very own food factories.

 

How to Grow in Small Spaces: Balconies

The beauty of living in the city is that you’re very close to shops. Whilst this is often a very useful thing; you’re bringing home that bag of salad, or those tomatoes still clinging to the vine which are costing you a fortune. The truth is, much of this stuff can be grown easily, and it can be done without huge amounts of space. All you need is a little bit of time and some forward planning and you, too, could be enjoying your very own food.

Continue reading How to Grow in Small Spaces: Balconies

3 Ways to Play with Pumpkins: Pumpkin Houmous

I’m on a mission, a mission to show you that pumpkins don’t just make great decorations at Halloween. In this 3 part series of blogs, I’m going to prove to you how you can make some great meals with pumpkins that also save you a load of money. You can see my recipe for soup here.

Continue reading 3 Ways to Play with Pumpkins: Pumpkin Houmous

3 Ways to Play with Pumpkins: Pumpkin Soup

As a grower, I love pumpkins. (Shameless picture of me holding one below):

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However, I’m 99% certain that most of you reading this have never grown one. You’ve most likely carved one in preparation for Halloween. You may have even tasted one in a fancy restaurant. Yet, for the majority of us, pumpkins aren’t exactly as familiar to us as, say, potatoes or carrots are.

But they should be.

Continue reading 3 Ways to Play with Pumpkins: Pumpkin Soup