Green-fingered, frugal families are being offered easy tips to grow fresh food and save big on their supermarket shop this summer. Experts at GardeningExpress.co.uk have pulled together top foods that are easy to grow, without the need for a massive garden.
Growing vegetables from seed can make a limited budget go a long way, with fresh herbs and fruit costing lots at the shops. Advice includes planting potatoes for a kitchen staple, growing tomatoes and peppers to go in any meal.
Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express said: “Growing produce at home can save quite a bit of money over a month or two and it’s a great way activity for the whole family. You don’t necessarily need a big, sprawling garden to grow your own veggies either. You can easily grow some of these staples indoors, on sills and in kitchens. Some of the easiest things to get started and get growing are spuds, strawberries and tomatoes.”
The fast-growing seeds can go from planting to harvest in less than a week. To get them growing, sprinkle seeds over the surface of a pot or sow in the ground in either a block or row, quite close together. Keep the soil moist and plant in a shady spot, as it doesn’t like getting too hot.
2 Salad leaves
Salad leaf seeds are a great investment, as they grow fast from the tiniest patch and in small containers. Salad can be expensive in the shops and goes out of date fast. Having some fresh and at hand is a saviour for a thrifty side salad, sandwiches or as a garnish. Sow seeds evenly all over the surface of a trough or tub of compost in a cool, semi-shady place. This crop is also good on windowsills indoors from autumn to spring. Snip leaves when they are big enough.
Fresh herbs can spice up the most boring meals, but they can be costly to buy fresh each time and are difficult to keep fresh long enough to get your money’s worth. Basil, chives, parsley, and sage will grow happily in a sunny window box or in a plant pot by the window, and oregano, thyme, mint and rosemary will all do well indoors and outside in a garden.
Best planted between April and June, peppers prefer well-drained, moist soil. Place the seeds in soil and pop them in an area with good sunlight. A greenhouse or kitchen windowsill is a good place to get them started, then they will want to move outside as the summer heats up. Using canes to support the plant will keep them well supported.
These delicious treats often scare new gardeners off, but they are extremely easy to grow and very expensive when purchased from the supermarket. Plant them in water-retaining soil in June, when the weather is warm. Place a net over the plant when they start to grow to protect the fruit from the birds.
6 Plant garlic
Anyone wanting to grow garlic outdoors should start thinking about it early because they are best planted before spring is fully sprung. Find a spacious sunny spot with soil and plant individual cloves, pointed-end up, so that the tip is just covered. Space them about 15cm apart.
Tomatoes are ideal for smaller gardens or even balconies, as they don’t require much space to grow. Sow seeds in small pots filled with seed compost, then cover each pot with a clear plastic bag and place on a bright windowsill. When the flowers begin to open, transfer to 9-inch pots or growing bags, or plant outside in a warm sunny spot 45-60cm apart.