The cost of living is rising, but we still want to live well. For families, this means buying good food from reputable sources. Unfortunately, with prices rising, it leaves many parents wondering how they will feed their children wholesome, nutritious food.
There is a solution and it is one that all families can take advantage of: grow your own!
James from First Tunnels Online spoke to us about how to get started growing your own fruit and vegetables.
Grow your own food
Growing your own food, all or some of it, in the shape of fruit and vegetables in the garden is nothing new. But, over the years, we have come to associated growing fruit and vegetables with people who have ample garden space, a huge polytunnel or greenhouses.
This is a myth. You don’t need a vast garden to grow fruit and vegetables. There are clever solutions that mean every family can save money on their food bills.
IDEA 1 – An allotment
First on the list is to rent an allotment. Many local councils have assigned spaces – and even created them too – for their residents to grow all kinds of plants, vegetables and fruits. Even better, as you get to know your allotment neighbours, you will find yourself drawn into a whole new world where you swap hints and tips, share out the harvest and swap seedlings and plants too.
There are also charitable and private organisations who rent out allotment spaces. The costs are not prohibitive but starting an allotment from scratch can be. However, think of it as an investment from which you will reap the profits later.
Depending on the allotment agreement terms and conditions, it may be possible to put a potting shed on your allotment or even a small polytunnel, perfect for extending the growing season.
The benefit of an allotment is you have space specifically for growing fruit and vegetables. And, with the benefits of gardening for mind, body and soul well-known, you can spend a few hours each week tending your lot, feeling the stress slip away.
IDEA 2 – Pots and containers
The root systems of most vegetable plants are not extensive meaning that they don’t take up a lot of space in the garden. But even in a small garden with limited border space, finding space for your vegetables can be tough.
Most vegetables grow well in containers and pots – homemade receptacles as well as shop-bought pots etc. Vegetables and fruits are also relatively simple to grow: they need warm soil, plenty of sunshine (but not always direct sun), and plenty of water and nourishment.
All this can come from a watering can with a few splurges of liquid fertiliser, costing a few pounds from the local plant nursery.
Even better, once one set of plants have produced its fruits, you can compost these old plants and plant a new wave of veggies.
IDEA 3 – Companion planting
So far, we have looked at growing vegetables and fruit plants in isolation. And this is how we tend to see the garden: there are zones for certain activities and tasks. So, we have plots for the veg, we keep fruits trees and shrubs in a different space and flowering plants in borders and beds.
Whilst we may do this so that the plant can take advantage of the best position, we also do so because tradition dictates. Companion planting throws out that rule book! Some plants grow well together, making the perfect bedfellows.
Mixing and matching your veggies in with your flowers is the perfect way of growing more, with less. Not all plants get on – you need to be aware of the dos and don’ts of companion planting – but when you get the right mix, you will have a bumper harvest of fruit and vegetables.
Go for it!
Growing your own fruit and vegetables doesn’t have to be time consuming. Neither do they have to take up a lot of space. You can grow your favourite fruit and vegetables in containers, for example.
Growing from seed is cheaper still and for the price of a bag of compost, you can start seedlings on the kitchen windowsill, transporting on to outdoor containers when the danger of frost has passed. You don’t need an expensive greenhouse but if you are serious about full self-sufficiency, then a polytunnel will extend your growing season. A potting shed is also a great idea!
Growing your own food is a great activity for the whole family and, when you have a bountiful harvest, why not share with your neighbours?