Eco food‎ > ‎

Grow your own!

posted 14 Feb 2010, 01:22 by Toby Roscoe   [ updated 14 Feb 2010, 01:37 ]
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is more healthy, nutritious and better for our environment than buying vegetables from the supermarket. You chose how many (if any) chemicals will be applied to your food crop before you eat it, rather than having untold quantities of petrochemicals sprayed on then to kill weeds and prevent attack from insects. They are fresh when you pick and eat them, so their vitamins and minerals are in A1 condition, not soggy and degraded, by the time you eat them. Importantly, home grown fruit and veg have not been over-packaged, driven around the country or even shipped or flown around the World, creating masses of greenhouse gas emissions, before they arrive on your plate. 

Whether you have a garden or not, there is every good reason to supplement your normal diet with healthy organic fruit and veg. From a pot on the windowsill full of fresh herbs for cooking to a full scale veggie patch and orchard at the back of the garden, growing your own can be as effortless and small scale as you like, to as involved and large scale as you have time for. 

scale 1 :: You can start off small, on your window sill, planting fast seeds like mung beans, cress, mustard etc that grow on moist cotton wool within a week or so. Then you can move on to herbs, depending on how much space you have. Basil, spinach, oregano, parsley, rosemary, can easily grow in pots on your window sill. You could even submerge 6/7 of your organic garlic cloves in a bigger pot of soil or compost two months before temperatures exceed 10C, that take 16 to 36 weeks to mature. With ample hanging and drying time, you will have your very own garlic!

scale 2 :: If you have more space in your conservatory/greenhouse/garden you can take a step closer to self sufficiency by planting tomatoes, peppers and aubergine (if you have space to start them off indoors and can maintain high temperatures during spring), you could grow beans, salad leaves, even carrots, leaks, onions, potatoes, beetroot and more! If space is limited, most things can be grown in large pots around the garden, if the time that you have to allocate to gardening is limited, you could plant most seeds 1-1.5cm deep, straight in to large pots (eliminating the need for transplanting) and with water, sunshine and occasional weeding, you can be devouring a lovely harvest by spring/early summer. Watch out though, gardening is addictive! Once you see the first leaves sprouting you will miraculously find more time to give them attention. 

scale 3 :: Allotments are a great way to grow your own fruit or veg, if like most people you don't have your own garden.-They're not just for pipe smoking oldies...To make it happen, the first step is to contact your local council office or visit their website in search of a vacant plot. Plots can be quite large and range from £15 to £35 a year for half a plot. This is a great project to take on with friends/neighbours. You could share a plot or hire a few plots between you. You can fence it together with scrap wood or metal, sow your seeds, enjoy the harvest, explore new recipes and more ways of being self-sufficient, together. You can ask around for unwanted baths/barrels to catch rain water so you can water your plants during dry spells. You can also ask nearby farmers if they have any spare tractor tires; a stack of 3 helps store and keep your compost warm--I find they are a great spot to rest tomato plants on, as they are warm and tall!

Step 1 ::
Contact council to find vacant plot

Step 2 :: Rake the soil, get rid of weeds

Step 3 :: Find some scrap wood or metal fencing material, ask around for a water catching tub/barrel as well as compost preparation tub and storage

Step 4 :: Prepare your plot for predators. 

- Hang some CDs from stakes to scare off pigeons, they are known to love cabbage. 

- Slugs can be a major problem, either plant onions and garlic around the edge of the plot, line it with coffee grounds, or scatter egg shells about in the bed. 

-Alternatively, put strips of copper around the beds, rings of copper wire around each plant, even around the base of trees. The copper reacts with their slime and gives them an electric shock, so they back off. 

-Another method of dealing with slugs is 'the slug pub' method, if you put a few drops of beer in a pot buried into the soil, the slugs can't get enough of the beer and fall in. 

Step 5 :: Sow your seeds. Don't hesitate to approach local farmers and people on allotments, you can get advice on what to grow in your soil type. Check out local riding stables for good horse manure (watch out for too much straw of wood chippings, as they are acid in content). Alternatively visit your local recycling centre, they often sell affordable, quality compost.

Step 6: Wait for harvest and enjoy!

Scale 4 :: Guerilla Gardening: a unique way of making a statement for the need of community revegetation. It is the art of using a piece of land which you do not own to grow something. According to the Guerilla Gardening Manifesto, it is 'one step removed from actual guerrilla warfare, guerrilla gardening takes land not for the people, but for nature; returning misused or disused land and finding a purpose for it, turning rotting sods of grass outside some condemned building into a vegetable patch, a clump of daffodils, or a flowering rosebush.' 

The three general rules: 

1. Use only land that is unused or unwanted, now and for the duration of your vegetation's lifespan.Unused could be from derilict land to the grass verges on the sides of roads. 

2. Leave the land in better condition than when you found it. If you're going to use some land for guerrilla gardening, then you should leave it in a better state than when you first took an interest in it. Improve the fertility of the land with compost, go organic, and clean away the detritus of urban life. 

3. Don't get caught. This is as self explanatory as it sounds. In essence, you're doing something illegal on someone else's land, so don't get caught.

Guerilla gardening was probably started by travelers and gypsies. Planting-as-protest became a movement in 70s America, begun with a New York group called the Green Guerillas. These urban horticulturists started off crudely by lobbing seeds and plants into abandoned, debris-filled lots, but eventutally converted hundreds of these lots into flower and vegetable filled community gardents. The movements has since spread around the world (one slogan: "Resistance Is Fertile") and now operates under the more general rubric of guerrilla gardening'. In the UK, Guerilla gardening has become part of the May day protests and is a more secretive organisation.

Edited by Eleni Papadopoulou

You're not alone! Here are some link..

::  Successful gardening and permaculture  ::

  1.     Garden Organic UK 

  2.     A group for gardeners in Brighton and Hove, to promote and learn more about organic gardening.

•Spiral seed - permaculture and

•Organic Gardening Resources - is a directory of editor-written reviews of useful, non-commercial advice and tips, concerning a wide range topics pertaining to organic gardening.

•Organic gardening - large site with tons of info and a 'ask the gardener' forum. 


•Brighton Permaculture Trust

•Peoples food sovereignty.


•    Book- Encyclopedia of Gardening - The Royal Horticultural Society 

  1.     Book- Grow your own Vegetables - Joy Larkcom. Book is part of the Kinsale College 2-year permaculure course curriculum.

  2. Making Local Food Work Programme

::  Allotments  ::

Allotments 4 all - fantastic forum everything from wildlife, plant tips to making wine.

Allotments UK and other related allotment

Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project - plus allotment advice.

See the 'Guardians' interview about women on allotments - read more>>

BBC video on the allotment Shed.

Watch here>>

::  Seeds  ::

  1.      Seed exchange and info

  2.      Join local organic groups they can give advice and also have seed exchanges in the spring.

  3.      Soil association - 

  4.      Future Foods is a small independent mail order supplier specialising in rare and unusual edible plants, offering seeds of fruits & greens, roots & tubers, salads & herbs.

  5.      Plants For A Future a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses. 

  6.      Heritage seed library (HSL) aims to conserve and make available vegetable varieties that are not widely available. Over the decades many varieties have been dropped from popular seed catalogues. Their collection contains family heirloom varieties that have never been in a catalogue.

  7.      The Real seed catalogue. No hybrids or genetically modified seed here - just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown by hand on a garden scale. Many are rare heirlooms, and all are open-pollinated (non-hybrid) so you can save your own seed for future years, using the instructions


  9.      Supplier of Heritage Seeds & Bulbs for the Period Garden

  10.      Thomas Etty esq. 

::  Dealing with garden pests  ::

•'The little book of slugs' and other products fromCAT.

•Garden Pests and Diseases (Royal Horticultural Society's Encyclopaedia of Practical Gardening) 

•Pests, Diseases and Disorders of Garden Plants (Collins Photo Guides) (Hardcover) by Stefan T. Buczacki (Author), Keith M. Harris (Author),Brian Hargreaves (Illustrator)

::  Guerilla Gardening  :: 

•Green Guerillas -

•Book: Guerrilla Gardening: How to Create Gorgeous Gardens for Free by Barbara Pallenberg.

•News article - Vandalizing with nature

•Primal seeds: A selection of guerilla gardening personal views-

  1. Read more at:

If you have any suggestions for updates to this page please email us