Growing food at home

For many, growing your own food is the ultimate in being green. With a little effort, you can expect the results to be healthy, satisfying and delicious. The resources needed to grow fresh salads, vegetables and fruits on your doorstep, using few inputs other than home-produced compost, are enormously less than those needed, say, to force out-of-season crops in a heated greenhouse and airfreight them from overseas. Focus on the kind of achingly fresh food that is high in vitamins and whose commercial equivalent would require extensive packaging, refrigeration and probably international air freight – and still not match what you could produce for yourself! Herbs, salads, tomatoes and soft fruit are delicious and rewarding ways to dabble in self-reliance. But take it steady, and celebrate whatever you manage to do. “Self-sufficiency” is a holy grail that too many people have sought for in vain.

  • Start with a few fresh, tender foods which will repay you well in terms of health-giving flavour. And remember the golden rule – grow foods that you really do love to eat.
  • If you’d like to have the pleasure of getting food from your garden, but don’t want to end up as a full-time vegetable gardener, try planting a couple of fruit trees or bushes. Many produce exquisite blossom, with the fruit following on as a bonus. If you have a small space consult a good supplier for varieties of fruit trees that do not require much space.
  • Even small spaces can be productive, if that’s what you want.
  • Garden Organic (the working name of the Henry Doubleday Research Organisation) is the first stop in the UK for tips on organic gardening and everything you may need. See also the Green Choices page on Go organic!
  • There is lots of advice available on gardening and on growing your own food. Your local library will have a whole section of gardening books, as do most bookshops.
  • Try the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners for food growing generally, and the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens for information on how to start a community garden.
  • See also the ‘grow your own‘ page in the Green Choices Food and drink section.

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