Grow your own vegetables – they’re healthier, cleaner and tastier too!
Published 26 February 2015 by Linzi Nuttall
If you’ve never had a go at growing your own veggies, our guide will give you green-fingers in no time.
Do you grow your own? If you do, well done! Give yourselves a pat on the back for being super savvy savers! If you don’t, it’s definitely something to think about, no matter how much space you have. Why? Because there’s no better feeling than picking veggies you’ve grown yourself, chopping them up and popping them into a crunchy salad. You really can’t get fresher than that.
Follow our three step plan to get you green-fingered in no time.
Stage 1 – Sprouts – not the Christmas kind!
Think you need a garden to be green-fingered? Think again. You can grow veggies almost anywhere, even on the smallest windowsill. So, if that’s the only room you have, then utilise it by growing sprouts in homemade jam jar sprouters. Sprouts are a great source of nutrition and they’re so cheap and so easy to grow. You can get ready made mixes of seeds, or just choose what you fancy from pretty much every seed and pea available, as they’ll all sprout given enough time. Sky Sprouts offer a large range of organic seeds just for sprouting, which includes alfalfa, radish, mung beans, lentils and broccoli seeds. Once they’re ready, just pop the sprouts, roots and all, in your favourite soups, stews and salads for a healthy, nutritious and value for money food source.
Why sprout? There are two great reasons why you should sprout – it aids digestibility and neutralises the enzymes that prevent you from absorbing all the nutrients. A full guide to soaking and sprouting all kinds of seed, beans and nut can be found here.
Stage 2 – Micro and Baby greens
Now you’ve mastered sprouts, why not move onto the next stage of growth – baby greens. This time, rather than growing your seeds in a jar, you’ll need to plant them in soil so their little roots can establish themselves. But, essentially the process is the same. You’ll soak the chosen seed, then plant it in the soil. Once it starts to grow, simply pick off the baby leaves as they appear. You can do this about three times before they start to go a little bit tough. Micro-greens are just the leaves from small plants or baby leaves picked even earlier. Here are two suggestions:
Pea shoots – super simple, super nutritious, super tasty! Just get a box of dried peas – the ones you normally buy to eat, not the ones intended for seeds – and soak them for 24 hours. Once you’ve done this, they’re ready for planting. If you want more instructions on how to do this see thishandy guide.
Spinach – another great crop for baby greens. The young tender leaves of baby spinach are packed with delicious nutrients and are wonderful in salads. The taste and texture of raw spinach is vastly different to the sloppy, grainy mess that cooked spinach becomes.
Stage 3 – Containers
If you have a little more room, or you’re feeling more confident, why not move on to containers? You can grow so much more in containers and you can let them continue on into maturity. So, you could soon be harvesting your own courgettes, cucumbers and potatoes. Here are a couple of great container crops:
Chillies – can give you a crop of between 50-100 fruits, so unless you’re from Mexico (Mexicans consume on average 6k of chillies a year and half a kilo of dried ones too!), you’ll be sorted for your chilli requirements for quite some time. Just dry the excess fruits for use later on.
Tomatoes – these are one of the best crops to grow in containers and will give you a bumper crop of fruits, if you treat them well. You should try growing the cherry varieties, as they grow easily and ripen quicker. But, if you have the time and patience, there’s nothing stopping you choosing the larger varieties too, they’ll grow just as well.
So, are you going to have a go? We certainly hope so, as we’re sure you won’t regret it. Once you start, you might even realise that you really love gardening, so what do you do if you can’t get access to a larger garden? Why not ask a friend who doesn’t use their garden for growing, if you can take over the space. To sweeten the deal, you can always offer to give them half of what’s produced. Or get yourself on the list for an allotment, where you can dig, plant and harvest to your heart’s content.
Click here to see our guide on window pot produce.