Gardening comrades, help us in sparking an urban gardening revolution! From streets to rooftops, GardenTags and the RHS are on a mission to Green Grey Britain.
Michael Perry is a horticulturist with a twist! He holds a career spanning 18 years with the biggest mail order plant company in the UK, was named one of the Top 20 most influential horticulturists in the UK by The Sunday Times and was a finalist for Broadcast of the Year for his orchid tips piece on ITV This Morning. Today he tells us just how to Grow Your Own urban crops, even in the smallest space…
You can grow your own anywhere.
If you don’t believe me on this, then I suggest you read on…
Firstly, let me point out that growing crops in a small area doesn’t necessarily mean the crop has to be miniature! There are a whole load of efficient varieties which crop heavy in less space. Meaning they aren’t just a wise choice for commercial growers, but also for patio, balcony and vertical growers!
With the waiting list growing for allotments in most regions, you really have no excuse but to get started in your own home, and soon you’ll experience the sweeter, vitamin-rich qualities of those fresh pickings! Before you cry ‘I have no garden’, there are plenty of options for balcony growing. No balcony? How about trying a window box with a bountiful crop of herbs and tomatoes bursting out or even a hydroponics kit for the kitchen!
Urban crops to work with the space you have:
If you only have a tabletop or windowsill..
Think about the magic of sprouting seeds, which have a more concentrated goodness and take up minimal space. You could also try growing some lawns on your windowsill, thanks to wheatgrass, which is easy to grow and gives a great health kick to those juices and smoothies. Lastly, chilli pepper plants are great for windowsill culture, and can be placed in pretty decorative pots, so you can also experience with some interior design whilst you grow!
If you only have a window box..
I know just the thing… trailing tomato plants! They aren’t only attractive, but super practical too. There’s no need to pinch out or maintain the plants, just pick and enjoy the sweetest fruits you’ll ever taste. When growing your own tomatoes, you can grow sweeter ones than the shops as your fruits will have thinner skins, which can’t cope with the transit demands of a supermarket-suitable variety. Similarly, cucumbers can be grown as trailing plants, or why not try some edible flowers and really get your friends talking, Nasturtiums are a good start, with edible flowers, leaves and seeds.
If you only have a patio or balcony..
The best invention for balcony gardeners in years has been the Veg Trug! This elevated vegetable patch means no bending, no digging and the chance to grow in the very best soil. You’ll no longer have to deal with an allotment soil full of weeds and stones. The deep bottom of the drug means you can grow some amazing urban crops like carrots and root vegetable.
You can also try hanging baskets. Strawberries are perfect to keep in these, and are kept away from pest and disease as they’re in an elevated position. You can also grow some more skilled fruits such as blueberries on the patio, and give them exactly the right, acidic soil.
None of the above? Try a hydroponic set – designed to grow indoors!
I hope I’ve proved to you that you can grow your own urban crops in any space! Believe me, there’s so much more to learn, as this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous benefits to growing fruit and vegetables in an urban setting too: when growing in containers, vegetables are often cleaner as they avoid muddy water splashed. They are also away from pest and diseases. Above all, they are more conveniently placed, so you don’t have to ever trek down the garden in rain just to pick beans.
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