The home-growing community has seen a huge growth spurt in recent years. Powered by celebrities like chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his landshare project, as well as a rising cost of living and a heightened awareness of health issues, more and more people are grabbing the trowel and having a go at growing their own food. Or should that be, having a grow?
If you want to try growing your own produce, you might be a little worried about how complex or expensive it might be. But you may find that it’s neither very difficult nor very costly. And you’ll be saving a lot of money on vegetables, which can cost quite a bit of money in the shops!
The internet is full of resources for people wanting to grow their own food, whether you’re a
beginner, or ready to tackle more complex projects. If you are just starting out, you may find it handy to know that the easiest vegetables to grow are cress, lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, green beans, carrots, potatoes, spinach, onions and beetroot. These allow you to make a number of delightful dishes including, but not limited to a fresh summer salad and will help you to retain your enthusiasm for growing your own organic vegetables as you’re almost guaranteed a lovely crop of vegetables for your trouble.
Vegetable gardens are not limited to people with a lovely big garden. If you have only a patch of concrete or a little balcony to rely on, you can buy planters and grow your vegetables in there. Compost may be a little more important as the soil won’t be getting many nutrients on its own, but you can definitely compensate for that. You can even start your own compost heap if you have the room!
Protecting your crops is another consideration. Some people may find themselves growing vegetables in planters inside their house, and this can work provided there is plenty of sunshine available, but for the majority of people who grow their vegetables outdoors there is a host of predators to think about!
Draping netting across your pots or even using it to close off your entire balcony will keep birds from just eating your seeds, and if you do have a garden a small polytunnel may provide some protection whilst also trapping the heat and protecting your crops from over-watering due to heavy rainfall. Insects are harder, especially if you want to avoid harmful poisonous substances.
Battling snails and slugs may be easier than you think, especially if you can’t get going without a good strong cup of coffee in the morning. Coffee grounds have been known to work against slugs and snails for many years, but an actual cup of coffee (instant or drip-brewed, although good old percolator coffee contains a higher concentration of caffeine and will do a better job) works best. Slugs and snails will die if exposed to concentrations of caffeine higher than 1 or 2 percent, but even a normal cup of coffee with far lower concentrations will put them off their dinner, and they will turn back as soon as they come into contact with the stuff.
So instead of throwing out your left-over morning coffees, stick them in a spray bottle and regularly mist the ground by your plants with it. You could be doing your plants a big favour and you needn’t worry about children or wildlife getting into your pesticide!
Growing your own vegetables is a rewarding process, allowing you to save money and get down and dirty with your own food. The satisfaction you get from eating your own vegetables is incomparable, and getting there is far less complicated than it may seem. So get your gardening gear, buy some seeds, and garden your way to a fresh summer salad!