How to start growing your own vegetables

Seed Pantry – getting the kids involved with food growing at home!

It’s Veganuary and many of us are switching to plant-based diets for health benefits and helping the climate. At Seed Pantry we  always encouraged our green-fingered fans to plant and grow their own vegetables, salads and herbs and #Veganuary is a month we fully support!

As well as being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, growing your own food; vegetables, salads and herbs means you can eat completely organic produce freshly picked by you with the best flavours and nutritional value. Growing your own food locally means no high-carbon transport miles which is far better for the planet.  Tending plants is so rewarding and connecting with nature is proven to lower stress levels and improve overall well-being!  So what’s not to love!?

With this all in mind, we have put together a quick guide to help those who want to start off their own journey of growing food! It can be daunting and confusing at first, so make certain to follow this guide to get yourself ahead.

What’s the best thing to start with?

Micro-greens – spicy radish shoots

There are lots of great places to start on your growing adventure. One of the easiest food crops to start with is growing your own micro-greens and herbs. These a great easy way to dip your toes into the world of growing your own food. Try growing spicy radish shoots, you grow them for a 5-7 days in a tray with a little compost (1cm deep) – seeds are scattered liberally and bobs your uncle! Cut them and eat as you need on a sandwich or in side salads. Both micro-greens and herbs can be grown indoors on your window sills and with minimal space and equipment. We have loads of great food and flower options on the Seed Pantry website.

Rocket and chilli crops

From there we would recommend trying fast-growing leafy greens like rocket, lettuce, pak choi, mustard leaves and small single plant crops such as cherry tomatoes, chillies, both grown in pots indoors. They will require a little more attention than micro-greens and herbs but still remains light work. However, the more work, the more satisfying the crop! We have a whole range of tomatoes and chillies in the Grow Club this month (Jan 2020) so come and have a look!

Where and when do I plant and grow?

One of the biggest struggles new growers find is that it is hard to choose what to grow and when. A common mistake with new growers is the belief that they can start growing what they like when they like. With some plants, this may work, however, most plants benefit from being planted at the right time to develop through their desired seasons.

We have put together a very useful Urban Veggie Table with all you need to know about when to sow, plant and harvest various types of fruits and vegetables. With this, you will be able to work out what you can plant around that given time of year and where to grow it.
When choosing what veg to grow, the amount of space you have to grow will have an impact on what choices you should make, so make sure to check how big plants can grow that you wish to grow first.

What do I need?

Sowing seeds, propagators, rice husk pots

All you really need to start growing is some seeds, compost and a small space in the ground or pots and containers, for indoors or outdoors, to start food growing, but there are also a few other bits you could use to make your life easier! Propagators are great for starting off your seeds and getting them going in a protected environment, as quick as possible, particularly for warmer climate crops like chillies. They will help develop seedlings before planting them in bigger pots or veg patches.

Another amazing and smart piece of technology you could use to help grow food is a hydroponic planter. This device helps develop and grow plants as easily as possible by providing the light and water your plants need continually so that you don’t have too! You can see the Seed Pantry Grow Pod 2 here and we think it is rather brilliant!

Seed Pantry Grow Pod 2

How do I keep my plants going?

Caring for your plants is one of the most rewarding parts, so make sure your plants have everything they need to survive. Take note of how much water and sun each plant will need and provide it’s desired amount as it grows.  Some plants need potting on to bigger pots/containers or planting seedlings out in veg patches once they’re big enough and some may need a little maintenance along the way, such as pruning or clipping to keep them tidy and focused on growing your food crops, but most should be happy as long as they get the water and sunlight they need! Look out for slugs and other creatures who may want a nibble also!

One last thing that you will probably need is…patience! Unfortunately, plants do not grow to full size overnight and need a little time to develop and grow. Give your plants the time they need and some love and you will have amazing crops in no time! Watching nature is truly one of life’s most rewarding things!

We’re here to help you get started…

At Seed Pantry we are encouraging everyone to grow some of their own food plants and flowers, as its fun, educational and tasty too! We provide the seeds, bulbs, equipment and expertise you’ll need to grow food at home!
Our experts are also available to help you every step of the way within our online community, via social channels and more – visit www.seedpantry.co.uk

For more information on Veganuary, their website is here: https://uk.veganuary.com/ 

Our New Partnership with Thrive 💚

We recently visited Thrive, an amazing charity that provides social and therapeutic horticulture (STH). With the use of trained horticultural therapists, they work with plants and people to improve an individual’s physical and psychological health, communication and thinking skills. 🌱

Seed Pantry was founded with the mission of helping others enjoy the rewards of nature, so we fully support their cause. All of us here have seen first hand the benefits of spending time in nature and the positive impact it can have on a person’s life.

Please go check them out and support them, they do such great work and we are so happy to be working with them – we are sending further details in our boxes this month 💚

Link: https://www.thrive.org.uk/ 

Seed Pantry Team

Growing my toms, chillies & peppers – stage 2

Late April / May I potted on my tomato, chillies and pepper plants into the Seed Pantry 9cm rice husk pots that are a perfect size to continue growing your own summer veg.  By early June the young plants roots were poking out of the bottom of the pots and had grown to a height of 10cm to 20cm.  This means they where then ready to be planted outside in our small backyard in London.

To plant them in their final growing positions, which can be outside or inside, gently ease them out of the pots by tapping on the bottom, perhaps use a plant marker to run round the inside edge to loosen the soil, be careful not to damage the plants.  I prefer to use the rice husk pots several times as they are sturdy like plastic but entirely biodegradable, great!

Get your final containers, window boxes or pots and hanging baskets ready with some peat free compost in the bottom, I used the Seed Pantry coir Compost Blocks to add moisture retention to the pots.  Just soak them in 3 litres of water to make 9 litres of compost!

Add your compost and then the plants with enough space around them to grow into – around 10cm to 20cm is good. Add more compost and firm them in gently. Give them a good drink of water to help them settle into their new environment.

They like to be in a fairly sheltered and warm environment for continued growing and once they start to flower they will need a regular organic feed to help produce excellent juicy and spicy hot fruits (for the chillies!).

I’ll report back on stage 3 once they flower and start producing baby peppers, chillies and tomatoes.

Growing my toms, chillies & peppers

There’s plenty of options for growing your own veg and sowing seeds at the moment, but a must for me in our small backyard in West London are a few tomatoes, plenty of chillies and peppers too.

You can get them going on your window sills using mini compost disc’s or you could try recycling yogurt pots filled with compost and pop a hole in the bottom for drainage. Sow 1 seed per pot/disc, put them in a sunny place and keep watered. Then move them into a slightly bigger pot after they have 3/4 leaves, the seedlings in the picture above are ready for this stage, use a 9cm wide/tall pot or perhaps a used soup tub. Move the young plants outside in around 4 weeks once they are 10cm to 20cm tall, transfer to either larger pots of 20cm wide or more or 3 plants to a grow bag.

I’m growing Tumbling Tom tomatoes in 2 hanging baskets as well as the varieties from our new Heirloom Tomato Seeds box: Outdoor Girl which is more of a bush type plant with smaller fruits, Marmande with big beefy fruits and Alisa Craig with medium sized juicy fruits.  Apache chillies and sweet spanish peppers are also in the mix.  

If you’re keen to grow your own veg then these varieties are easy to grow and will produce excellent flavours in whatever space you have spare.  They do really well in pots on the patio/backyard/courtyard or on balconies and roof terraces with a little shelter…

 

Cono Sur teams up with Seed Pantry..

Cono Sur teams up with the Seed Pantry at the Edible Garden Show

In line with its green credentials, award-winning Chilean winery Cono Sur is linking up with urban gardening company Seed Pantry to exhibit at this year’s Edible Garden Show at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire from 18th – 20th March.

Continuing their joint efforts to encourage people to grow, cook and eat their own produce, Cono Sur and Seed Pantry are inviting visitors to their ‘Urban Garden’ stand at the Edible Garden Show, where they will demonstrate innovative ways to grow fruit and vegetables in the smallest of spaces, from window boxes to balconies, using household items such as newspapers and even bikes!

Visitors to the stand will have the opportunity to taste the delicious, sustainably-produced wines within the award-winning Cono Sur range including the highly-acclaimed Pinot Noir, as well as learn how to plant vegetable seeds, make a plant pot out of old newspaper and find out about how to match their home-grown produce to Cono Sur wines.

Cono Sur is renowned for its sustainable production, becoming the first winery in South America to gain the ISO 14 064 certification, widely regarded as the most reliable measure of efficiency in measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainability is at the heart of Cono Sur’s philosophy and the team goes to great lengths to produce perfect wines with the minimum environmental impact.

Cono Sur and the Seed Pantry’s Urban garden stand will be at the Edible Garden Show from the 18th – 20th March so come along and learn how to eat, cook and drink sustainably! For further information on sustainable living and seasonal recipe ideas, visit the website www.conosurgreencooks.com