How to start growing your own food at home
Growing food is one of life’s pleasures – and there’s no better feeling than the taste of the food you’ve grown yourself.
Other than the joy of eating chips made with your own potatoes, there are many wins from growing your own food; it often saves you cash, reduces your carbon footprint and plastic waste as you buy less packaged foods that have travelled far, improves your physical and mental well-being, and is a pretty valuable skill to have under your belt.
You don’t need loads of space or special equipment to get started! Here’s a step by step of what you need.
These tips are part of something bigger. At Hubbub, we want to see a world where everyone makes choices that are good for the environment. Check out what we do and how your actions add up.
Know Your Patch
When deciding what to grow, it’s important to first work out what your growing space is. Plants are like people – they have different personalities so the amount of space you have and the amount of light that space receives is important to know.
If your space is a consistent warm and sunny spot, consider foods such as tomatoes, sweet peppers and chili peppers as they do well in bright and hot areas.
If your growing space is lightly or partially shaded, choose crops that are adapted to a bit of shade. Salad greens such as lettuce and spinach will grow here, as well as sorrel, watercress, mustard, and endive. Certain herbs tolerate some shade including, chervil, chives, horseradish, lemon balm, lovage, and mint. Herbs are great to grow on the kitchen windowsill so that you can harvest them easily when cooking.
If you’ve got a garden with a lawn, no-dig beds are an easy way to grow many varieties of veg all year round without needing dig up the whole garden and with minimal materials – just cardboard and compost.
If you’ve got a concrete yard, patio, or balcony, try container growing. Think about where to place each crop based on the weather conditions and consider companion planting for a higher yield.
Add height to your growing space to make it look even prettier. Try growing climbers such as peas, beans, and nasturtiums using a trellis or bamboo canes.
Easy to grow herbs and vegetables are great options for first time growers with limited space. They’ll do well on a sunny windowsill and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as serving up home grown.
For those wanting results quickly or for growing with kids, micro-herbs like cress and pea shoots are great choices as they can be eaten in as little as seven days, are super tasty and easy to grow on a sunny windowsill.
Lettuce and radishes are other fast-growing option and with most salad bags costing over £1 a go, you can start saving by growing your own. A top tip is to plant a new batch of salad leaves as soon as the last batch has sprouted, so you have a constant supply all summer.
Another factor for choosing what to grow is the time of year. Check out this guide for when to sow seeds and when to harvest veg.
Choose your starting point
Ready to start? There are a few starting points to choose from: growing from seed, cuttings, or an established plant. Make sure you have access to some essentials like compost, water, and a pot or container.
Growing from seeds might seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be, and it can be incredibly rewarding as you follow the journey from day one.
The packets contain instructions for when and how to sow your seed. Hold on to your pack so you can remind yourself how to care for your new plant friend.
You can also check in your local area for seed swaps; people may have saved seed from a previous harvest. This is a free way to get more seeds as well as build connections in your neighbourhood.
Check out our guide to growing from seeds here.
Growing from cuttings is great if you have friends/ neighbours that already grow their own vegetables. People are usually happy to take a cutting from one of their established crops for you to propagate and grow from. People sow more seeds than needed in case some don’t germinate so may have a few spare crops. You could return the favour and have the whole street growing together.
Here's a handy guide to growing vegetables from vegetables that are already grown - magic! Growing from cuttings also work well for herbs such as basil, mint and oregano which you can take from a supermarket bought or neighbours plant. All you need is a glass jar, water and some scissors.
There are many composts available on the market for different crops and stages of growth. Make sure you choose growing material that is free from peat (a powerful carbon absorbing material that should be left in it’s natural state, not dug up to add to commercial compost) to help combat peat-bog depletion, loss of biodiversity, and climate change.
Seeds prefer compost with little added nutrients as they already contain all the nutrients they need inside them. You can add sand to your compost when growing from seed in a three-to-one ratio for extra drainage and to ensure your seeds aren’t sitting in too much water.
Enjoy the fruits (and veg) of your labour
Caring for your plot is enjoyable, but eating your own homegrown foods is even better. Follow the guidance on your seed packets about when to harvest but don’t worry if certain crops don’t seem quite ready in time as weather conditions, sunlight, and warmth can affect growth rates and some just take a little longer than others.
Care for your crops
If you're opting for container growing make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom for excess water to escape from, be careful of overwatering.
When caring for seedlings, keep the soil moist but not soggy. Watering a little every other day is a good place to start whilst you’re figuring out how much water your crops soak up. If they’re in a sunny spot, or it’s been extra warm, they’ll need extra watering.
If you’ve opted to use no-dig methods in your garden, regular weeding is essential. When the weeds are small, pull them out with your hands (wear gloves as certain weeds are prickly), and if the roots are more established a small trowel or gardening fork will make it easier to dig them out. If you spot any insects or slugs, wipe them away using a cloth dipped in a mix of warm water and washing-up liquid.
Hungry for more?
If food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest polluter in the world. Find out how our campaigns have been shifting behaviours to take a bite out of the problem.
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