We should grow food, not lawns
Food isn’t grown plastic wrapped, so we can get the ultimate luxury of growing our own food, plastic free, zero air miles, at least for a small but good selection of food to try our hand at. An edible garden is a great start.
I recently put a shout out for top tips on beginners growing their own food in varying spaces on our social media outlets. From flat dwellers to allotment growers and plant-pot growers to full on farmers, we got a great response.
I wanted to collect the information needed for people who live with varying amounts of space and various abilities, and got the answers needed to help you begin your journey to your very own zero waste, locally grown food.
The most common advice when growing your own
When speaking to individuals, there was a common theme for their top tip and it came along somewhat echoing a certain sports label, just do it.
“Just start. A pot, some soil, seeds, a little water and some sunlight, let your newfound hobby and addiction begin and figure it out from there”
“Read on the back of the packet or search online for the best time to plant and just follow that, it really is that simple”
“Start with easy and fast growing foods like rocket, chives, parsley, lettuces so you don’t get disheartened. Either way, just do it, we need more people living more self sufficiently”
“Don’t let space put you off, food indoors can be very decorative too, if only a handy snack while you’re cleaning”
It really sounds like we’re needing to let go of the fear of wasting time or making our excuses and just need to get a couple of pots and seeds and just begin.
What to grow now to get your plastic free food?
Some people think it’s too late to start growing once we’ve begun the summer months, but my green fingered advisory group say there is still lots to get sown this time of year.
What to grow in June:
Indoors/Windowsill/Greenhouse – Cucumber, Gherkins, herbs like Dill, Coriander and Parsley, Radish seeds, Spring Onion seeds, Lambs Lettuce, Pak Choi, Peas, Carrots, Mushrooms (in a dark area), Chillies
Outdoors, directly into soil in deep pots/long pots or in ground – Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Pepper Plants, Celeriac, Leeks, Squashes (in rich fertile soil as they’re big feeders), Cauliflowers, Spring Onion seeds, Courgette, Chicory, Broccoli, Carrots, Beetroot, Lambs Lettuce, Khol Rhabi, Pak Choi, Spinach, Turnips, Swedes, Peas, Runner Beans, French Beans, Charlotte and Maris Piper potatoes can be sown in June to late July
What to use when growing
Look at your recycling bin or landfill bin before searching online for pots and trays, most likely, you’ll have what you need already.
- Reuse and regrow seeds or starters from food you already have such as tomatoes, lemons, garlic, onions and potatoes
- Many people post in online gardening and swapping groups, excess seeds they have to share or swap, have a look there to see what you can grab first to save money on seeds
- Pots can be made from paper and cardboard which you can reuse for seedlings that can even be transferred into pots or into the ground.
- Black non-recyclable plastic trays make for great salad and herb trays!
- Use your food waste to make rich, fertile compost
- Use wooden poles or mesh netting or cut up pieces of wood or reuse plastic sticks/straws (windmill sticks are great for this) to help start off height growing foods such chillies, tomatoes and peas
- Reuse a cleaned out spray bottle to mist your plants when needed
Last bits of advice
Greenfingered George – Follow the seed packet advice, always give the space they recommend even if it seems way too much. Don’t get too stressed over looking after your plants. Water, sun and some half decent soil and you’ll be onto a winner. Space really isn’t an issue, you can literally grow anywhere and grow whatever you like, try new things and they’ll taste so different to what you’ll have bought at the supermarket.
Remember everything you grow is winning a small war against air miles for food which would most likely be imported and win the war against pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers as well as the fight against plastic pollution.
Amy – Reusing black non-recyclable plastic trays from the supermarket are great for using as seedling trays and planting herbs in. I have got so many different herbs and salads growing on every windowsill with these.
Carolyn – Food waste makes for great fertile compost, be careful with coffee grounds they are only for acidic plants like tomatoes, chillies and peppers.
Laura – Invest in a wormery if you can, maximise your space for growing your own, grow food instead of clutter. Use half plastic bottles as mini cloches. Use newspaper or paper to make your own pots that can be planted in the ground too.
There is a wealth of online information out there on growing your own and what to grow indoors and we hope this blog has inspired you to see what you can reuse and grow even with limited space.
We need more people learning more about permaculture and how to provide food for themselves. We also need to try and reduce air miles where possible and how much more local can you get than from your very own home?
Community gardens are popping up more and more so if you feel like you need more space, and have got the food growing bug then get in touch with them. Community growers and gardeners are amazing sources of knowledge and support when starting out.
If you have any more tips for growing indoors, outdoors or what has worked well for you growing your own food, including reducing your waste, please get in touch!