Grow Your OwnWhy Grow Your Own
There is nothing as healthy and tasty as enjoying fresh produce from your own garden. Having the luxury of picking your fruit, vegetables and herbs when they are ripe ensures you get maximum benefit from your produce. Studies have proven that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and nuts will lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes and also lower the occurrence of eye and digestive problems (Harvard School of Public Health) While the health benefits are obviously huge you will also be helping the planet. Food Miles is a common term used to refer to the impact food has on the environment, basically it is a measure of the CO2 emissions to get the food from the source to you. Growing your own produce at home results in effectively zero food miles, when you compare this to the average 1500 miles that food travels the environmental benefits are obvious.
When to sow and harvest
One of the great things about having the time and space to have your own urban garden is the range of plants you can grow as the seasons change. Being able to plant and harvest your crops at the right time of year, means they will be at their best when you eat them. Whether you want to enjoy your own brussell sprouts or cabbage at Christmas or garden grown summer salads you can adapt your garden to suit you. For a head start have a look at our calendar: Planting Schedule for Vegetable Crops, for planting and care instructions for some favourite British garden crops.
Starting a Vegetable Garden
Starting your own vegetable garden can seem like a huge job, what to plant, where to plant and how to look after it all. Choosing a spot that gets sufficient sunshine is the first step, most vegetables will need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Ideally your site will also have good quality soil and be well drained. If this is not the case you can always condition your soil with some perlite to increase drainage and dig in your own compost which you can make yourself with a wormery or Bokashi bin. Having created your garden, you now need to decide how and when to plant and harvest your patch. You can get some pointers for this from our charts page which recommends some good companion plants and sowing and harvest information. You can also become a member of the Royal Horticultural Society who can provide detailed information on all forms of gardening. The pages of this website are attempting to educate about all aspects of urban gardening and provide you with the tools and equipment to have the confidence to create your own garden designed to suit your circumstances. Good luck and enjoy your vegetable garden.
Herbs are one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow around the home. Most people will grow their herbs in pots or containers as they are easy to move around, can fit onto windowsills and can be planted in groups depending on their needs and how fast they grow. Herbs can be easily cultivated in shallow pots (15cm deep) or window boxes as they usually only need sufficient drainage and a good quality potting soil. If you are growing larger plants such as bay trees or fennel, you will require deeper pots to accommodate the root system. Match your pot to the herbs you wish to grow and youre already half way there.
Propagation is the process of reproduction in plants, this comes as sexual propagation through seeds and also asexual propagation by taking cuttings. Sprouting seeds is the most common propagation method used in plant reproduction. Whether you are starting seeds or taking cuttings from your existing stock, propagation usually requires special environmental conditions to achieve best results. Your job is create the right conditions for your plants in this early stage.
Taking cuttings is a cheap and effective way of propagating plants at home and gives you the control to continue the genetic traits of the mother plant - you choose the plant you like most to take the cuttings off. There are 4 main types of cuttings and you will need to use the one that is appropriate to your type of plant. They are:
*Stem cutting - taken from shoot tips and side shoots (most plants).
*Leaf-stem cutting - are taken from leafy plants with short or no distinct stems.
*Bud cutting - to be taken from plants with long trailing stems from the buds.
*Leaf cutting - are taken from plants with little or no stems.
See our Houseplant Cutting Calendar and Common Houseplant Cuttings tables for more information on taking your own cuttings.