Growing Your Own Ingredients
25th August 2016
There is nothing more satisfying than tucking into a meal that you have not only made yourself, but have also home grown. It depends on the season and space you have available but even the smallest of homes can experiment with home grown ingredients. You could even make a feature of it and create an indoor herb garden that not only looks great, but smells amazing too! You could even decorate your dining table with a few small herb pots – then when you have guests round they can help themselves to some salt and pepper and some fresh herbs.
Growing your own food can seem a bit daunting at first, but once you get into the swing of things, it will seem like second nature and could well become a new favourite hobby. For those of you who are tempted but are still a little reluctant, try starting off with a couple of the following foods; they are perfect for beginners and you’ll be eating the rewards sooner than you imagine:
Growing your own food is not only extremely satisfying, it’s also a great way to encourage children to try new things and venture away from the likes of turkey dinosaurs and smiley faces. If they have played a role in growing vegetables (whether that role is as basic as ‘checking in on the veggies’ every now and then) they are going to be far more likely to want to try them.
So, if you are tempted to give it a go, you first need to decide how much you want to take on and also, what your preferred flavours are. Of course some foods are easier to grow than others but if you have a favourite then make that your project because you will appreciate it so much more when you get to tuck in later down the line.
Follow these steps to kick-start your vegetable garden:
Research and decide on the foods you want to grow.
Identify where your growing patch will be. You could consider the following options.
🍓 Indoor garden – The kitchen windowsill is often a popular spot.
🍑 Flower box feast – If you have flower pots dotted around your garden or boxes hanging from your windows, maybe you should rethink their potential.
🍅 Garden patch – This option is convenient but depends on the space you have available and whether or not you are willing to give up some of your garden.
🍆 Greenhouse – This really depends on the size of your garden and how much you want to invest. There are always alternatives if you’re not quite ready to commit to a full-sized greenhouse; why not try a miniature greenhouse to start you off.
🍓 Allotment – If you don’t have enough space in your garden or you would rather leave your garden as it is, maybe you should consider buying or renting an allotment. This can also turn your hobby into a social activity as you will get to know your allotment neighbours and may even be able to steal some tips and advice from the more experienced amongst them. If you are considering an allotment just bear in mind that the further you have to travel the more demotivating it can be – find a spot not too far from your house so you can regularly check in and tend to your crop.
Plot out the area –Once you have decided on an area, mark a border around the plot.
Prepare the plot – This will depend on the type of ground you have chosen for your plot but there are several common considerations and steps you will need to take:
🍆 Clear the grass to unearth the soil.
🍓 Remove all weeds – from the roots! You don’t want those weeds growing back, trying to suffocate your crop.
🍑 Banish those creepy crawlies! Put precautions in place to deter the likes of snails and slugs who have an infuriating craving for fruit and vegetables.
🍅 Build a structured edge to the plot to avoid soil or weeds collapsing over. You could use scaffolding planks or build a little stone wall – whatever takes your fancy.
🍆 Build structures (if needed) to support climbing foods.
Buy all of the essential tools you will need – There is no need to spend a fortune here. Why not venture out to your local car boot sale or ask your neighbours if you could borrow their spade and rake? Try thinking outside the box to save those pennies.
Now the exciting part! Source and buy the seeds, bulbs and roots you need to grow your chosen foods.
Prepare a natural soil fertiliser – This isn’t essential and you can always buy fertiliser at farms or shops, but when you could make some at home at no cost you may as well give it a go. Some of these may come as a surprise to you but all of the following can be used in fertiliser to give your vegetables, fruit and plants the rich nutrients they need:
🍆 Banana peel
🍓 Powdered milk
🍑 Aquarium water (only fresh water – no salt water)
🍅 Coffee grounds
🍑 Wood ash
🍅 Cooking water (once cooled)
🍆 Egg shells
🍓 Green tea
🍑 Horse feed
Now it’s time to plant your seeds and watch them grow! You will need to plant according to the seeds guidelines and seasonal calendar. There is a reason foods are seasonal; Mother Nature prohibited some foods from sprouting at certain times of the year. We have put together this Seasonal Guide for fruit and vegetables so you can always check which foods are in season: