Over the years, growing your own food has become a part of everyday life for many people. Between the history of allotments continuing into today, and more and more people becoming actively interested in what goes into their food and where their food comes from, the grow your own craze is picking up traction.
Saving the planet and living sustainably is part of it, as is saving money But the key reason most people go in for edible gardening is that you can’t beat the taste of your own home-grown food. Pick it when it’s perfectly ripe and you’ll have unbeatable flavour. And if you’ve got kids, they’ll try things they’d never think to eat otherwise if they’ve grown them.
Home is where the plants are
The easiest place to start for the novice gardener is the kitchen. In fact, many people have already done this with the potted herb plants that are sold in supermarkets. Potting herbs and putting them together in something
Whatever time of year it is, there’s always something to do in the garden. It’s great exercise for both mind and body – figuring out why something is thriving or barely surviving, and working out how something will come out in the future are hugely rewarding for any gardener. The interaction between gardener and the environment – and particularly how it changes from spring to winter – is what elevates gardening from outdoor decoration to an art form.
Step into spring
From March to May, when the days are lengthening and the earth is awakening, you’ll have crocuses, daffodils, and cherry blossom to brighten up your garden. Now is the time to clear up after winter and begin to imagine how your summer garden will look.
Getting things tidy again after winter is key. Get your lawn under control, deal with your early weeds and tidy up your perennials.
Looking After Plants When You're Away
August is a month when many of you will go on holiday, except your plants won't be joining you, so you need to get them sorted and ensure that they'll be properly looked after.
Charm your green-fingered neighbours and make it easy for them – gather containers together, rig up watering systems and go away with a clear conscience.
Or you can go all high-tech and water your plants from the warmth of your sun lounger using a Wi-Fi-connected watering system.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you do something to avoid disappointment when you return home.
Houseplants are always trickier, as you might not want someone, even a neighbour, trampling around your house.
To make sure your plants stay well-looked after, gather together your houseplants in the kitchen, n
Reduce your carbon footprint, grow food without insecticides, reuse and recycle your own waste – there are many reasons for wanting to approach gardening in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. For every kilogram of fruit and vegetables that you grow and eat, you’ll use less energy and save two kilograms of carbon emissions.
Eco-friendly gardening is focused on using fewer pesticides, helping garden wildlife, reducing the amount of waste you create, minimising your use of tap water and using products that are sourced as locally as possible. Growing food organically is the start – with eco-friendly gardening methods and practices you will create a sustainable and environmentally responsible garden. But how? Check out our ultimate guide to eco-friendly gardening.
Planning an eco-friendly garden
June has been a scorcher! Will a little rain and lots of sun, the garden is going strong.
Soft, leafy growth should ensure the potatoes produce a great crop. Most are flowering now indicating that tubers are present (or coinciding with the beginnings of a crop) and now is key to a bumper harvest. Even if we do get rain, the canopy of leaves may well stop everything but the most persistent of downpours from reaching the soil. You will need to water either the soil around the plants or the sacks the plants are growing in. Seeds can still be sown with short rows of carrots guaranteed to produce something before autumn.
The same goes for salad onions and lettuce. Beetroot can be sown now. Soak seeds for a few hours before sowing and rinse the seeds prior to popping in the ground. This washes out germination inhibitors and increases your productivity. Each seed is usually a cluster of seeds so expect bunches of seedlings appearing. In other words, space them out so as not
Earlier this month we spoke to Lucy over at Smallest Smallholding to find out more about working with a smallholding, environmentally friendly gardening, and the no-dig gardening approach. Find out more about what Lucy gets up to below!
Smallest Smallholding interview
1. You’ve been working with your smallholding properly for 10 years now, what would you say are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
My little backyard ‘smallholding’ has gone from a fair sized garden to a fairly productive piece of land in those 10 years. It’s nowhere even remotely near to ‘proper’ smallholding status (though that’s the dream!) but I am constantly trying to juggle what is feasible, and the ideas and dreams in my head for turning
Recently we caught up with John from Allotment Garden to see how much of an impact allotments have had on Britain through the years. as well as some of the challenges of running one and how to overcome them.
Check out our interview with John with below.
Our interview with Allotment Garden
1. Allotments are a big part of British history; do you think more should be done to preserve the allotment trade in the UK?
Allotments are far more than some historical hangover. People may no longer depend on them for their food but they provide a leisure activity for many that has been shown to promote both physical and mental health. They also provide green spaces in the urban landscape and by mixing people in different ethnic, age and social groups, allotments promote social cohesion.
So a resounding Yes! Preserve, support and develop more allotments.
Recently we were fortunate enough to interview Jenny Steel from Wildlife Gardening about all things to do with having a wildlife garden, helping wildlife, and not using chemicals in your garden! Check out the interview below.
Our Wildlife Gardening Interview
1. As someone with a keen interest in wildlife gardening, what are your top tips for encouraging wildlife to come to your garden?
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about butterflies, birds, mammals or the smallest invertebrates – all wildlife visitors need food and shelter and some need water, so thinking about these basic necessities is a good way to start. Once you have a better feel for the wildlife that is using your garden, you can be more specific about providing what those local creatures need.
2. Pollinators like bees and butterflies are all under pressure at the moment. How can gardeners
Trellising plants, fruits, and vegetables is a long-standing gardening technique that may be utilised for various reasons. Growing plants vertically on a trellis that produce fruits and vegetables is especially beneficial. Plants that climb do so with a wide range of versatility; they can climb by way of clawing and thorns, twining and hugging, suckering and rooting, or just flopping until some sort of climbing support is found by the plant. Plants that climb can be invasive and quite adventurous, but there are some that may be quite dainty as well. There are climbing plants available for all garden situations, including sunny, shady, damp, or dry. There are varieties of climbing plants that need space while others do well indoors and in limited space. Some climbing plants like to climb walls and fences while others can be grown as ground cover. The majority of climbing plants are shrubs or perennials while some are annuals. The list below highlights some of the best climbing plants
Charles Dowding has had his name associated with no-dig gardening for years now, and it is unlikely that you will find people who practice no-dig gardening who do not know of him. Charles found his feet in no-dig gardening some 30 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. No-dig gardening works best with a layer of compost as mulch, which encourages worms and other soil life to 'do the digging', avoiding any need to turn/loosen soil or make trenches. Here Charles tells us a bit more about the practice and gives some insightful tips and thoughts into different areas of gardening as well.
What is your all-time top gardening tip for the beginner gardener?
Be prepared to put time, effort and some money into establishing a garden. The first year is key, cleaning soil of weeds especially. Start small, don’t take on more than you can manage thoroughly, and then expand your plantings as you get the hang of what is involved. Gardens are unforgiving