Urban Digger – September 2010

Food growing doesn’t stop when it gets cold! You can continue to grow your own food in autumn..

and through to winter by sowing autumn vegetables…what are they I hear you ask?…well things like Pak Choi, winter lettuces, chard and oriental mustards are a good start for urbanites. If you can find a little room on a window sill they can all be grown now outside.

September is a time when there are still plenty of vegetables to be picked from summer like French beans and butternut squash. Often you have more veg than you know what to do with, so get the recipe books out and make the most of harvest time, there are lots of wonderful recipes in the Seed Pantry forum too.

Seed Pantry at the Start Garden Party…

For most of September I have been really busy with Seed Pantry exhibiting at the Start Garden Party, held at Clarence House. This has been an exciting and informative event all about inspiration for making simple steps to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Start is a new charity run by the Prince of Wales Trust aimed at helping us all to be a little bit more sustainable in the way we live.

There were loads of things to see and do from clothes swapping parties, a pledge tree to make your pledge to do something sustainable – like growing veg!, a dance floor that generates electricity and a solar powered greenhouse. My personal favourites were the many innovative ways to produce urban veg with an eye on future cities using every available metre of space and all types of recycled containers for food growing across the four seasons. 

There is loads of information from food growing, shopping to cycling and driving at the www.startuk.org website.

Growing food around my flat..

In the flat I’ve been busy sowing autumn salads on the window sills to replace summer varieties to last for the next few months. With cities being warmer than rural locations it does mean you can grow food all year round with extended seasons where you can experiment with pushing the boundaries of producing veg varieties.  

For sowing and growing autumn salads you can use the same methods as you did the summer varieties of leafy salads in window boxes. Take your window box and add a layer of gravel or broken pot bits in the bottom, add the compost to abut 3cm below the top, firm this down gently, sprinkle your seeds evenly and thinly across the surface for cut-and-come-again leaves, then add a layer of compost over the top about 1cm and firm down, then gently water until the soil is moist. They will survive colder spells and frosts are a while off yet.

My running total of savings is up to around £107 over four months, I would estimate that over the year you could save around £300 by growing your own food in spare spaces…great!.

In the backyard, which is still like a jungle, the production line continues with tomatoes and French beans, Swiss and rainbow chard, and carrots. 

Next month I’ll probably be clearing out the French beans and other crops that are no longer producing to make room for some late sowings of autumn veg – although there are no signs of this yet! I want to try and grow food in the city all year round to show that tasty rewards can be achieved will a small amount of money and work in a small space!