We all try our best to get our five a day. Thankfully what used to be a chore has now become the latest food fad! Hunting for pictures of yummy curly kale crisps, salad hacks, and cauliflower pizza bases (Yes, healthy pizza!) is now a mouth-watering gateway in to #healthy. So it’s not surprising that growing your own food has become the nouveau life goal.
Why should I start growing my grub?
I know what you’re thinking: living off the land must cost the earth? Nope! Growing your own is cheaper because you can plan what you need well in advance and put any leftovers in the freezer. It’s a great way to veg-ucate kids to eat the healthy food they usually turn away (or spit out). Not only is it good for your body to eat those fruit and veggie laden dishes, planting your own produce also good stress buster. Plus nothing tastes better than that warm sense of pride you get from making your meal from scratch.
What do I need?
Luckily you don’t have to be a farmer or even have a garden! Surprisingly all you need is a few planters, a sunny spot, and a bit of patience.
For your food to thrive it needs five hours or more sunlight each day, making windowsills and balconies the perfect fruit and veg patch. It’s best to pick a windowsill that’s wide and sans ornaments so your planters will fit. Plants hate to be overcrowded and their roots need plenty of space so make sure your planter or seed tray is pretty deep for their roots to sprout outwards. If your house has more shade than a cloudy day, a small tiered greenhouse in the garden can feed your them sunlight while keeping out those pesky bugs.
Now let’s dish all the dirt on… well, dirt. Compost is vital for fruits and veggies to gain nourishing nutrients. Keep an eye out for soil or loam based composts that contain water retaining granules, extra nutrients or plant foods. Overwatering plants is a common mistake made by gardening newbies. A good way to check is to give the compost a quick poke with your finger to check it’s moist. To prevent excess water, gather some garden stones to layer on the bottom of your pot. Pour in your compost and firm it down then grab your gardening tools to start planting!
Which seeds should I sow?
So you’ve got all your gardening kit and a little habitat ready to begin growing your own food. Now all you need to do is figure out exactly what seeds you want to grow. Think about your favourite healthy meals you enjoy eating regularly. Growing fruit and veg that will be versatile enough for different meals allows you to truly protect your pennies.
The weather is getting warmer which means it time for those sunny salad seasons! Lettuce is brilliant for first time food growers with a limited amount of space. How big your lettuce grows depends on how far you space them out. You can harvest the outer leaves without digging up the plant so you can have your own fresh lettuce larder.
Even when the weather gets colder, you can still heat things up with some chilli peppers. They take a little longer to grow but are totally worth the wait. Make sure to water them gently and regularly check that the soil is not oversaturated with water. They’ll spice up your salads and make a great healthy snack with some humus.
Basil will add a bit more flavour to your meal and is another windowsill allotment favourite. Seeds can be sprinkled thinly and you’ll start to see them shooting up in about two weeks. When your basil is ready to be picked, you can take the leaves as and when you need them. Start planting in the Summer so you’ll be able to have that delicious tomato and basil soup by the time it’s cold outside.