Growing your own food at home might sound like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before, but it’s actually very simple and extremely rewarding. And don’t think that you need a whole allotment to have a go – it’s as simple as finding a little bit of space on your kitchen windowsill, or planting some low-maintenance vegetables in your garden.
Despite the returning popularity of allotments, growing food in your garden or kitchen, has the benefits of convenience and easy access. Take a look at our top picks for food you can easily grow at home.
Growing Food in the Garden
When to plant: You can plant potatoes from mid-March provided that the last frost date has passed. Keep in mind that the later you plant potatoes, the longer it will take them to mature, so don’t expect a late season crop to be ready in the same time as an early crop.
Perfect growing conditions: Potatoes require deep soil to grow, so plant them in raised beds or in a container instead of directly into the ground; a potato sack or dustbin will work fine – just make sure you add some holes for drainage.
When to plant: Plant onions from mid-March to mid-April. As onion seeds are susceptible to frost damage, you may find onion bulbs easier to grow, as these are more resilient and therefore have a higher success rate.
Perfect growing conditions: Onions prefer plenty of space and sunshine (well, don’t we all?) and you need to be careful to not over-water them.
When to plant: This will really depend on the type of salad that you choose to grow. By planting a variety of salad produce, you can set yourself up with a steady supply of lettuce throughout the year. Salads prefer to be out of direct sunlight, so if you’re planting in the summer, make sure you do so in a shaded area.
Perfect growing conditions: Salad greens prefer a cool climate but you can plant and harvest them any time between spring and autumn. As salads are mostly made up of water, they require moist soil and plenty of watering. However, if you’re growing in a particularly wet season, be careful not to overwater them, and avoid using a plot that gets easily waterlogged.
When to plant: Radishes are another cool-climate vegetable, which makes them ideal to grow once you’ve harvested all your summer fruit and veg. They’re usually ready to harvest after a few weeks, and thanks to how quickly they reach maturity, you’ll be able to harvest multiple crops. If you’re planting radishes on a larger plot, make sure to plant in stages so you don’t have to harvest all your radishes at once.
Perfect growing conditions: Despite being a cool-climate crop, radishes need plenty of sunshine to flourish, otherwise they will focus all their energy on growing leaves. Once the radish plants are two weeks old, you should thin out the seedling to allow the strongest plants to grow better.
When to plant: Sow in intervals between March and July for a continuous crop; those sown after June can even be put away for winter storage once they are harvested.
Perfect growing conditions: Beetroot requires plenty of moisture and fertile soil, so be sure to use a high-quality compost. Until they sprout, beetroots will require water daily, but afterwards you will only need to water them every 10-14 days to ensure that they don’t overproduce leaves.
When to plant: Tomato seeds are usually sown 6-8 weeks before the last frost date – usually March/April but keep an eye on the forecast to be sure.
Perfect growing conditions: Tomatoes will flourish as well indoors as they would in the garden. In order to get the best fruit, tomatoes will need plenty of water. Tomato plants are particularly sensitive to frost so take care not to sow seeds too early in the year.
Grow in the Kitchen
Easy to tend to and requiring little space to flourish, herbs are the ideal plants to grow inside your kitchen. A sunny windowsill is the best place for herbs as they’ll thrive with plenty of light. In winter, windowsills may prove too cold, so make sure to keep your plants somewhere warmer during the chilly months.
An easy way to cultivate herbs is by regrowing store-bought ones. To do this, simply place the stems of your herbs in water until they grow new roots., before planting them in well-drained soil. For kitchen herbs, a 6-inch pot should be big enough to allow plenty of space for growth.
Best herbs to grow: Basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint varieties, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Perfect growing conditions: In general, culinary herbs require 4–6 hours of sun per day, so make sure that there are no outside obstructions blocking their sunlight. In the winter, your plants will grow far more slowly, so be sure not to overwater them. Once they start actively growing again in spring, feed them with liquid fertilizer every month.
You might not have considered growing vegetables in your kitchen, but regrowing vegetables inside can have excellent results. There are plenty of vegetables that you can regrow from scraps that would otherwise go to waste. Although they fair better in the garden once their roots have regrown, the kitchen is the ideal place to help them along until they do so.
Best vegetables to regrow: Celery, leafy greens, garlic, onions, leeks, lemongrass and mushrooms.
Perfect growing conditions: Any vegetables you’re regrowing will need plenty of sunshine and water to flourish, so keep them in a well-lit area and make sure that you regularly change the water if you’re regrowing roots. As with herbs, in the winter keep them somewhere warm to help them along.
By growing a selection of seasonal crops, you can ensure a steady supply of homegrown food throughout the year.
Needs some inspiration for how to enjoy your homegrown crops? Take a look at our delicious recipes for inspiration.