Debunking the myths: why you can grow your own

Debunking the myths: why you can grow your own

Posted 20th Sep 2017

Did you know this month is Organic September?

The month-long campaign looks to raise the profile of organic food, produce which is defined by DEFRA as coming from a trusted source and doesn't use man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.

Growing your own food will allow you to have complete control over how this will be done, with the nutritional benefits of picking and eating produce straight away proving to be immense, as few nutrients will be lost.

Here, The Greenhouse People debunk five of the most common 'grow your own' myths to show how anyone can get involved in producing their own.

"I don't have space"

It is a commonly held misconception that you need acres of land to grow your own fruit and vegetables. Yet in reality, you can grow a number of delicious plants in a small space - all you need is to choose wisely and get creative. You need to decide what you want based on what you enjoy eating, what will be expensive, and what you can grow in the space you have.

Legumes (this includes runner beans, broad beans, French beans and peas), squashes and pumpkins are ideal for smaller gardens, as they use vertical space. If you're planning to grow on your balcow or windowsills, salad leaves, herbs and tomatoes will flourish, and cost a fraciton of the supermarket price. However, remember that plants do not like being over-crowded.

"I'm horticulturally hopeless"

If you don't have any garden wisdom, don't fret. Instead, try starting with fool-proof fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Just make sure you water them during any dry spells and cut them back to ground level before winter. The majority of seed companies will sell packets of mixed salad leaves in a wide variety of shapes and colours too, so you can wow your dinner guests.

The internet will be a great resource for newcomers to gardening, but being faced with millions of pages can prove overwhelming. To narrow it down, you should prioritise UK-based sites as they will have the most relevant information with regards to seasonal weather, native pests and any locally available produce.

"I'm too time-poor"

It's a commonly held belief that growing your own food will be too time consuming to try. In fact, it can actually prove to be the opposite.

For instance, if you need some spring onions to finish a salad or thyme for your Sunday roast, you won't need to pop to the shops. If you have the area, you should think about growing squashes, courgettes and cucumbers - these super-performers will keep yours and even your friends' kitchens stocked, with the minimum of time invested.

"I can't because I rent"

Okay, your landlord would probably oppose you digging up the garden, but this doesn't mean you can't grow your own. Non-permanent container gardens - for instance tubs, pots and barrels - are the ideal compromise, along with window boxes and hanging baskets. You can try mixing edible flowers to brighten up your outside space, and these can be used as pretty garnishes.

If you'd like to make the most of your rental property's garden by creating a vegetable patch or installing a greenhouse, you should speak to your landlord and explain the plans. It will often be a well looked after and functional garden which adds value to a property and appeal to future tenants.

"My garden doesn't get enough sun"

Plants will need a high input of sun, which can be a struggle for urban dwellers. Varieties of fruit that are naturally tart do not need great exposure to sunlight as a way of developing their sweetness. You should try currants, gooseberries, blackberries and sour cherries.

There are also some simple things you can do to encourage more light into your outside space, by cutting back overgrown bushes, using reflective mulch to bounce light into plant leaves, or moving containers in the morning and early evening to catch the sun.

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