Buying organic vegetables is costly. This summer, to get the freshest, healthiest, chemical-free veg, why not grow your own? After you taste the difference between fresh produce from your garden and your usual supermarket fare, you won’t look back.
For all the right reasons, edible gardening is enjoying a boom. It saves money, helps the environment and satisfies our gourmet appetites. Growing your own allows you to enjoy the freshest flavours money can buy. It also encourages children to eat healthily—if they grow it, they will eat it.
What’s more, this green-fingered trend looks here to stay. Thanks to initiatives such as Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project, growing fruit and vegetables has become mainstream. Even Kate Moss has emerged as a keen grower, while Alexa Chung strolls round the Chelsea flower show, her Instagram post earning more than 40,000 likes.
In 2017, gardening is back in fashion.
It is perhaps fitting that this rise in popularity coincides with the ongoing ‘eat clean’ trend spearheaded by social media. It reflects a growing shift towards conscious healthy eating in a re-energised ‘grow-your-own’ movement.
Contrary to popular belief, growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs is pretty simple. And, due to the pleasant weather conditions and fertile soil, the British summertime is perfect for getting started.
Thankfully, you won’t need a large allotment or vegetable patch. Instead, all you need is a couple of pots or a patch of soil and soon you can put food on the table for the whole family.
To help you out, we have selected five easy things to grow in your summer garden to give you a flavour of how you can contribute to your family’s five-a-day this season. So, you’ve planted some flowers, now it’s time to harvest some edible plants!
First of all, choose a sunny spot in your garden. This is because sunshine produces stocky, sweeter tasting and disease-resistant plants.
In general, ordinary garden soils in Britain are fine for growing veg. But there are a few things you should be aware of. If your soil is thin—less than the length of your spade’s blade—or full of stones, either build raised beds or grow your produce in large pots. Rich in nutrients, clay soil is ideal for summer garden plants. However, in winter clay soil becomes cold and wet, so build raised beds to extend your season.
Ensure your plot is free from weeds before you begin. If you don’t, you run the risk of your plants becoming swamped. In an ideal world, most gardens would be chemical-free. But if you want a quick fix, the best weedkillers contain systemic glyphosate that kills down to the roots, breaks down the soil and doesn’t affect future crops.
Always follow advice on seed packets. Never start growing earlier than recommended, as plants that get off to a weak start won’t recover. Make your own compost. Use lawn trimmings, green pruning and kitchen peelings. When turned to compost, they make wonderful food for your veggies which make wonderful food for you!
Kicking things off, we have the humble courgette. Courgettes are great to get you started on your green-fingered journey. Perfect for gardening procrastinators or those who have left it late, these vegetables flourish later in the warmer season, making August the best month to have a go at planting them.
Plus, you should be able to get up to 30 fruits from a single plant. Not bad!
These summer squashes are known to be prolific among the edible gardening community, with some reaching enormous sizes. Like beans and cucumbers, courgettes can be grown in containers or directly in soil. They need plenty of moisture and prefer warm soil.
Enjoy courgettes roasted, deep-fried as Tempura, spiralized, stuffed or even added to cakes for extra moisture. You can also eat their flowers for a garnish with a twist.
A family favourite, tomatoes are a great food to experiment with growing in a summer garden. A great choice for the greenhouse or patio plot, this versatile crop can also be grown in the ground.
Probably the most popular vegetable for any plot size, fresh tomatoes from the garden are naturally sweeter than those found in the supermarket. They can either be grown in pots, containers, hanging baskets or in the ground. Just ensure they get plenty of sunlight and water.
Top tips: try growing basil next to your tomato plants. This naturally repels pests, improves the flavour of your tomatoes and luckily, like most herbs, basil is easy to grow/maintain. Also, allow for the tomatoes to fully ripen in the sun to enjoy unparalleled flavour.
Did you know, an 85p packet of lettuce seed can produce up to 16 bags of salad? In the long run, this saves around £24 at the supermarket! More good news: lettuce and salad leaves are some of the easiest things to grow in your garden.
Easy to grow from seed in a container or in the ground, lettuce grows quickly (it’s ready in just three weeks) and can be easily harvested (just snip off the tops or pick leaves as required). It takes up very little space and continues growing so you can harvest it again and again.
Here’s more information from Mother Earth News.
Mint (and other herbs)
Mint is a really vigorous plant that not only looks great in summer gardens but is also the perfect garnish for potatoes and peas. It can also be used to make fresh mint tea and mojitos. Or, try putting some in a glass of water for a more refreshing flavour.
It’s best to keep mint in a pot as it grows on almost any moist soil and has a tendency to spread out. Most mint varieties will tolerate some shade and they require plenty of water, especially during drier, hotter weather.
Once you have mastered growing your own mint, experiment with other herbs such as basil, parsley, coriander, rosemary and thyme. Over time, this will save you loads of money as herbs are relatively expensive to buy in the shops.
For more advice on how to grow mint, go to the Royal Horticultural Society’s website.
One of the most popular annual flowers, due to their colour and scent, sweet peas make great plants for a summer garden. Sure, you can’t eat them. But we still think they make a classic addition to any garden.
Half of the inspiration behind our Sweet Pea and Honeysuckle range, annual sweet peas are a seasonal, summer garden plant. To grow sweet peas, you must sow them indoors, earlier in the year. Growing them from seed is easy enough and this will give you a much wider range of colour and scent.
Native to Sicily, Cyprus and Southern Italy, sweet peas bring a splash of Mediterranean colour and scent to your garden. Don't forget to regularly dead-head your flowers when they’re in full bloom, as this encourages more flowers to develop.
Source: Stephen Depolo
We hope this article has inspired you to get out there and join the gardening community. If it has, plenty of information, advice and tips can be found on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website.