Next week marks National Allotments Week. Whilst tending to and nurturing an allotment holds countless benefits, not everyone can afford the price tag that comes along with one. But fear not – if you are lucky enough to have some outdoor space, or even just a window sill, there’s nothing stopping you from experiencing the benefits of growing your own produce for yourself.
So, how do you create an at-home allotment? Here are some simple steps to get you started.
Location, location, location
It goes without saying that in order to begin growing your own fruit and veggies, you’ll need to find the right location for optimal growing conditions. If you have a garden, ideally section off and dig up an area to become your dedicated vegetable patch. If you rent your home, however, this could prove problematic. There is no harm in asking your landlord if you can make changes in the garden, but if they say no then don’t worry. There are plenty of other options.
For instance, you could invest in a raised bed or patio planter, These do, however, come with a bit of a price tag (anywhere from £50-100). A thriftier and easier idea is to simply buy a growbag for around £10. These come in a few different shapes, sizes and materials. Once you have your growbag, all you need to do is find a sunny spot for it to live. This could be on a patio, a lawn or a balcony.
If you don’t have a garden, you will of course be a little more limited in terms of how much you can grow. That being said, you should be able to find suitable containers for indoor use at your local garden centre. You can even upcycle things like egg cartons and plastic takeaway containers if you want to be super savvy. Providing you have an area of your home that gets enough sun, you should still be able to grow something tasty!
Plan your produce
What is it that you’d like to grow? Do you want some home-grown veggies for salads and roast dinners? Or do you like the idea of filling the kid’s lunch boxes with fresh fruits and berries? Perhaps it’s herbs that you are interested in, to give your cooking an extra twist.
If you are growing your produce outdoors, you can pick pretty much anything – but perhaps do a little research first to find out the conditions that your chosen foods enjoy the most. If you are growing indoors, you are best focusing your attention on foods such as spinach, kale, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers. Herbs will also thrive whilst growing indoors.
You will also need to consider the time of year. Most fruits and vegetables have a natural season that dictates the best time to grow them. The early months of the year and springtime are the most fruitful (excuse the pun) time for growing produce, but you still have time to try growing vegetables such as lettuce, rocket and spring onion throughout these summer and autumn months.
Now for the fun bit – planting your seeds and/or bulbs and getting the growing process started. How you do this will depend on what it is that you are growing and where you are growing it. If you are planting straight into the ground, a raised bed or container then you may need some topsoil, compost and fertiliser in order to give your chosen produce the right conditions to thrive and the best chance of growing.
Do a little research beforehand to ensure that you are clued up. Your seeds or bulbs should also have instructions on the package and guidance for planting them correctly. Each seed or bulb will also need space to grow, so be mindful of this when planting.
Care for your crop
Once planted, all you need to do is give your fruit and veggies the best care you can. Ensure that you are watering whenever the soil is looking a bit dry (at least daily if you have planted into containers). Keep an eye on any progress and remember, it can take a while. Different foods have different germination times.
You should also keep an eye out for any pesky bugs that may have discovered your fruit or vegetables. They can potentially become a problem if not dealt with. If it becomes necessary to use pesticides, use something like insecticidal soap that isn’t toxic. You may even find that simply a forceful spray of water from a hose might knock them down and do the trick.
There’s something incredibly rewarding about growing food from scratch and enjoying it on your dinner plate with the family. It’s something that many people can benefit from without the luxury of an allotment.
Looking for more ways to spruce up your outdoor space? We offer outdoor and garden equipment on flexible repayment plans. Shop now or contact us for more information.