As a homeowner, growing your own food can be one of the most satisfying things you can do. However, not everyone has the space for a vegetable garden, particularly in the city centre.
Of course, it’s still possible to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs indoors, on windowsills, balconies and in smaller gardens. Through clever use of space and careful planning, you can bring plenty of freshly picked food to the table all year round.
Whether you plan to eat them fresh from the plant or use them in cooking, it’s a lot of fun growing your own fruit.
Strawberries need sun, shelter and fertile soil to flourish. A sun-facing windowsill or conservatory will take care of the first two, while finding the right soil is a matter of asking at your local garden centre.
They are the perfect summer fruit, so start planting them in March/April for a July/August harvest of delicious, plump strawberries. Serve with cream for the quintessential British summer dessert.
The UK is blessed with many delicious varieties of apple, and they’re great to grow as they require very little attention once the plants are established.
You can buy apple trees in ready-made containers, and if grown in well-lit, sheltered environments you can expect a healthy harvest around late summer/early autumn.
Grown similarly to apples, pears are another wonderful autumnal fruit that is equally lovely when eaten from the tree, or poached and served with ice cream for a delicious dessert.
The difference between pears and apples is that you will need to let your pears ripen a little more after picking, in order to enjoy the perfect taste and texture.
An essential component of most meals, it’s very useful to have your own vegetables to use. Here, we’ve looked at both hearty root vegetables and salad products.
Leaving aside the ‘vegetable v fruit’ debate for now, tomatoes are easy to grow at home and a lovely fresh addition to a salad.
You can grow these in a window box or in a grow bag in the garden. Ensure each plant has around 35cm between them and plant around mid-May to start seeing tomatoes from around the end of July. Once the first batch is picked, the plants should continue to produce more tomatoes until September.
These are perfect for the impatient gardener, taking just four weeks from sowing to harvesting. You must ensure you harvest the radishes while they are still young, otherwise you will end up with a tough, woody vegetable that is virtually inedible.
Sow radishes from spring through to early autumn.
It’s generally accepted that home-grown potatoes are a lot more flavoursome than those bought at the supermarket. A good tip for growing potatoes at home is to use a clean dustbin.
You will need to create holes in it to allow water to drain away, and ensure there is constantly around 20cm of earth above the potatoes as they sprout, to prevent them turning green in the sunlight. This will need to be done regularly. Planting new potatoes towards the end of April will give you your first results by late June/early July.
Good seasoning is the final piece of the puzzle in any successful dish, and having your own little herb garden close at hand will make you look and feel like a proper chef. Here are four basics you can easily grow at home.
Regarded as one of the easiest herbs to grow, parsley should be placed in an east or west-facing windowsill where it will enjoy plenty of sunlight. You can grow it from shop-bought seeds or use a sprout from a previous batch.
Traditionally a lamb accompaniment, rosemary can also go well with pork or tomato-based dishes. Rosemary is also known for its pleasant smell, so there are more than just culinary advantages to growing it at home.
Many of us will have memories of growing cress at home as a child, and it’s something that’s fun and easy to do. All you need is a small tray, some seeds and some wet kitchen paper. This is actually better than soil, as your cress will turn out a lot sweeter.
Now it’s your turn
There are many things that turn a house into a home. Growing your own food is just one option. Why not take a look at our style tips and see what else you can do to make the most of your home?
Posted on: July 5, 2016