From pot to plate: how to grow your own vegetables

01 April 2019 | Healthy living

Do you want to grow glorious greens from a lush allotment? Or proudly produce lovely ledge veg? Melissa Mogor, our Public Health Adviser, shares tips on growing your own veg.

Getting started

As spring is upon us it’s that beautiful time of the year when everything starts sprouting again and that means it’s time to get planting your veg!

Like many people, the thought of growing my own food was exciting, but somewhat far-fetched. Although I'm a nutritionist, being a born and bred Londoner left me without a clue on where and how some vegetables actually grow – I had never really even thought about it.

Last spring, I challenged myself to go green and acquired an allotment – 250 square metres of weeds, slugs and unusual bugs. As a complete novice, my initial thought was that this project was beyond me and I’d most definitely bitten off more than I could chew. However, my determination to have a summertime harvest of fresh vegetables was stronger than my fear of spiders, foxes and surprise frogs.

After many evenings turning soil, countless hours pressing pits into compost and constantly referring to online information for tips, I found myself with an evolving allotment. In a matter of weeks, I was witnessing sprouting seeds and before I knew it my patch was filled with vegetables! From mega marrows and colourful courgettes to crisp cucumbers and climbing green beans.

Watching things grow

Experiencing every step of the vegetable growth cycle is just as euphoric as eating the homegrown vegetables themselves. I had the joy of witnessing the ever-changing beautiful blue hue of a broccoli bush, the glistening gleam of aubergines and the deepening orange pigment of pumpkins. I was surprised by the difference in appearance and taste of everything. Unlike in supermarkets, each vegetable was as perfectly imperfect as the next and they tasted so much better too!

Exercise – the added bonus

A bonus of gardening is that it counts as exercise – and being more active is one of World Cancer Research Fund’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations! Use our exercise calorie calculator to see how many calories you can use up while gardening.

I think it’s safe to say I’m officially a very proud vegetable grower, and now I’m here to spread the word and get you growing your own too. Rest assured, you don’t have to throw yourself in at the deep end like I did. Here are some quick and easy starter tips to help you grow wherever you go.

Tantalising tomatoes – give your window ledge the edge

What you’ll need:

  • Starter tray – a recycled cardboard egg box will do.
  • Potting mix or compost.
  • Tomato seeds – just use the seeds from your favourite types of tomatoes.

Half-fill each compartment with compost. Place a few seeds in each compartment, lightly cover the seeds with more compost and add a few drops of water.

Keep the compost warm and moist, and in no time, you’ll be ready to repot them into big pots or outside.

Sack of spuds – ideal for a garden, balcony or any outdoor space

What you’ll need:

  1. A huge woven sack or bag.
  2. Some sprouting potatoes.
  3. Compost.

Cut the potatoes into small cubes, each containing at least two sprouting eyes. Place the cubes on a paper towel and leave them in a warm, dark, dry area. After a few days, they should dry out and be ready for planting. Fill half the sack with compost or soil, and plant your dried sprouting cuts of potato four inches deep. Water and leave to grow.

As the plants grow, add more soil or compost, eventually filling the sack. Water regularly and harvest in as little as 10 weeks.

Happy growing!

Melissa Mogor | 01 April 2019

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