Get growing your own during National Gardening Week

National Gardening Week takes place on 15th – 21st April 2013, just as Spring is finally upon us, so now is a great time to get sowing and planting with the whole family!

Gardening Week is organised by the Royal Horicultural Society and there are lots of activities and events happening across the UK – such as Wildflower planting, nature trails, local community events, children’s workshops, open days, plant swaps and gardening shows. Thousands of people will be coming together to help keep Britain beautiful by sharing and celebrating everything about gardens and gardening.

The website is full of great ideas and listings for events in your area and has a whole section dedicated to growing your own: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Grow-Your-Own

Here at Seed Pantry, we’re always encouraging our green-fingered fans to plant and grow their own vegetables, salads and herbs at home even in the smallest of spaces – from from balconies, window-sills and yards.

As well as being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, growing your own means you can eat completely organic produce, grown and hand-picked by you.

So why not make the most of the late Spring and start growing your own vegetables, salads and herbs at home during Gardening Week or visit a local event to be inspired to start planting.

We’ve got a fantastic selection of easy-to-grow seed kits and baby plants ready to be potted and planted at home. Have a look at our website to find our more: http://www.seedpantry.co.uk/plants/summer-tomatoes-chillies-peppers.html

Happy Gardening Week!

grow your greens during Go Green Week

Go Green Week (11th – 17th February) is People & Planet’s annual national week of action on climate change in schools, colleges and universities. Students across the country will be holding activities all week to raise awareness and launch projects showcasing practical solutions for a low-carbon future.

Go Green Week encourages students to make climate pledges, apply for sustainability funds for green projects and raise funds for climate action through charity events. Plus, each day of the week is themed around different green issues:

Meat-free Monday

Travel light Tuesday

Waste not Wednesday

Switch off Thursday

Funding Friday

Go Green Week will help raise awarensss of the issues surrounding climate change and if we all make some small changes to our lifestyles, we can help towards building a more sustainable future.

Students – why not ask your University if you can set up a vegetable patch or an allotment to grow your own fresh, organic vegetables, herbs and salads? It’s also really easy to grow your own from the comfort of your own home in even the smallest of outdoor spaces, such as window-sills and back yards.

As well as being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, growing your own veg, salads and herbs means you can eat completely organic produce, grown and picked by you.

Growing your own can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Tending to the seeds, watering, monitoring and harvesting is great exercise and can be therapeutic too.
The fresh air and gentle workout will leave you feeling refreshed and energised. You’ll also feel a great sense of achievement when you cook up your hand-picked veggies and serve them to friends for dinner!

So during Go Green Week, why not start growing your own vegetables, salads and herbs with your housemates or speak to your student union representative about setting up growing areas? It’s a fun, easy and cost-effective way to eat fresh, organic produce, and to contribute towards a more sustainable, eco-friendly future. 

grow your own to cut Food Waste

Industry experts predict that food prices are set to rise by 5% during 2013, putting even more pressure on families struggling to make ends meet. Yet reports out in the media say that as a nation, we are throwing away unprecedented amounts of food, with the average British family wasting £680 worth of food every year.

On top of that, farmers are also wasting around 25% of their produce because of the strict requirements the supermarkets impose.

Overall, the nation is wasting a huge amount of food and although some of the factors are understandable, with a little effort, planning, savvy shopping and by making some small lifestyle changes, we can all do our bit to reduce the amount of food we waste.

Growing your own salad, vegetables and herbs at home can not only help cut your grocery bill, you tend to only pick what you need for a meal, so there is no wastage as the rest is left on the plant to continue growing. If growers have an abundance of larger vegetables and fruit, they can be harvested and frozen, pickled, made into jam or given to family and friends to enjoy. Plus it’s a great way to get all the family involved in an activity together, outside and learning a new skill.

Growing food at home, indoors, in the garden, or in an allotment is an education. It’s so fulfilling to watch how a tiny seed grows into an amazing, tasty vegetable. Growing your own food really helps to value the process and effort it takes to produce great-tasting vegetables, herbs, fruits and salads and it certainly makes me think twice about throwing it away after all the hard work, infact it just doesn’t happen!

Given the economic climate, finding ways to cut costs and eat more cost-effectively, yet healthily, has never been more important. You don’t need an allotment or a garden, a small yard, patio or even a windowsill is enough. For me and my family, it’s really satisfying to cook some great dishes with what we have grown at home – we have made our own tomato and basil sauces for pasta dishes, stir-fried vegetables to eat with noodles and have plenty of fresh salad leaves and lettuce varieties to make our own healthy salads. Money-wise, we worked out that by not buying supermarket lettuces and salad bags, we save around £25 per month and have very little wastage…and it tastes better too!

It is all too easy to throw away a mouldy lettuce you bought from the supermarket, but when you have patiently watched it grow you will be less likely to take it for granted and more likely to eat it before it goes to waste.

#foodwaste is trending on Twitter and it’s great to see that is has come to the fore as it will go some way to help people become more aware of what they throw away.

To find out more about ways you can help more visit: http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

Grow your own Seed Pantry vegetables during Vegan Month

November is Vegan Month and here at Seed Pantry, we are always encouraging our green-fingered fans to plant and grow their own vegetables, salads and herbs. So what better time to experiment with a vegan diet than 1st November – World Vegan Day. This year, the organisers are hoping that a record number of people will pledge to try plant-based eating for at least one day or – for a real challenge – the full month.

Now is a great time to start thinking about setting up a vegetable patch in the garden, or if you don’t have the space, our popular kits let you grow your own in even the smallest of outdoor spaces – from balconies, window-sills and yards.

As well as being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, growing your own veg, salads and herbs means you can eat completely organic produce, grown and picked by you.

Growing your own can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Tending to the seeds, watering, monitoring and harvesting is great exercise and can be therapeutic too.
The fresh air and gentle workout will do wonders for your health. You’ll feel a great sense of achievement when you cook up your hand-picked veggies and serve them to family and friends for dinner!

So during Vegan Month, why not start growing your own vegetables, salads and herbs at home and maybe even spend a day experimenting with the vegan diet.

1st November, Vegan Day, marks the start of Vegan Month celebrating the coining of the term, ‘vegan’ and the founding of The Vegan Society in November 1944.

Square Foot Gardening

My problem in life is that I just don’t know when to stop – this applies to spending, talking, eating, and….sowing seeds.  Once I have that seed packet in my hand, I just want to sow them all.  Immediately.  And, whilst it’s satisfying at that moment, it’s not so good a few weeks or months down the line when we’re trying to think of new ways of cooking, eating or knitting kale.

Exhibit 1: Example of my oversowing – how long would it take people to eat these onions?

During some aimless internet surfing, I came across the square foot gardening (SFG) method and thought that this might be just the thing to curb my profligate ways with seeds. 

The basics of SFG were stated as follows:

– Raised beds - that don’t require cultivating and which you do not have to walk on as you can reach every part of the bed from outside the bed;

– Addition of a special mix of compost/vermiculite/peat;

– Division of beds into square feet - clearly marked with string or something more permanent so that the divisions are visible as crops grow;

– Intensive planting of different crops within each square foot;

– Successional sowing - so no gluts and a continuous crop throughout the growing season.

 

So, for each square foot you sow a specific number of seeds depending on the crop so that you don’t waste seeds and also you don’t have to thin out plants that are overcrowded.  Common spacing is:

– 1 plant/square for larger plants like cabbage or broccoli

– 4 plants/square for medium plants like lettuce

– 9 plants/square for medium-small plants like spinach

– 16 plants/square for small plants like carrots and spring onions.

Anything that takes up lots of space through their habit such as runners or courgettes are grown vertically on frames or supports.

So far, so good.

Of course, I didn’t decide to follow it precisely – who doesn’t read the instructions for something and think “ooh, I don’t think that applies to me?” or “I can’t really be bothered with that it so I’ll adapt it for my own lazy ways…….”  I did use raised beds and I did divide up into the square feet but I decided to cultivate the soil that was in there and add some soil improver in the autumn to help with my clay soil structure and also to add some nutrients (I didn’t need peat – stay peat free!).

 

    

   2Dividing into square feet & putting up protection.

 

 

 

 

 1. Cultivating Soil

Next..deciding what to grow?

I mainly went with salads and lots of carrots which I love but also grew some kohl rabi because it looked cool in a picture I had seen!  I then went into overdrive with a crazy spreadsheet that had 32 columns and nearly 300 rows (representing each day) – OMG I was trying to plan to the nth degree – what to sow, how long it would be in the ground when it would be out and so then when I could sow the next lot.  

Duh!  I now realise that all I really needed to do was sow everything once in their respective squares and then wait for it to germinate.  Once a particular crop in a square had come up then to do a second sowing in any free square I had and continue doing this until the seed packets said that it was too late to sow or I ran out of squares.  Some crops like kohl rabi I didn’t need so much of so I sowed less often.

    

3.  Very neat and tidy at the start           4.  Now, growing well..slightly crowded

 

 

Some observations..

– Crops like radish mature very quickly so their square comes free within the season to be sowed again with something else.

– Some crops like carrots were tall and shaded other plants/flopped into other squares – next time I’ll make sure I sow these crops on the North of the bed so they don’t shade the other veg and will also put up some Heath Robinson affair to stop them flopping into the other squares.

– It takes quite a lot of discipline to do this as you have to be sowing quite often – I have to admit that I wasn’t as attentive as I could have been *hangs head in shame*.

– The main pests in my urban garden are foxes, squirrels and cats so with the raised beds, it was easy to put up some protective netting and whilst they aren’t cheap they are very strong and I can see them lasting for ever.

– I haven’t had gluts which has been brilliant – no new knitting patterns for kale required!

Overall I think this is a great way to grow veg in a confined space and with a bit more discipline I think it will be even more successful next year.

 

This post written by the Seed Pantry guest: Nell Jones.

Nell recently studied Horticulture as a career change from 20 years in recruitment and now works at the wonderful Chelsea Physic Garden. 

You can read Nell’s own blog here: http://capabilityjonesblogs.blogspot.com/