Growing Your Own Food

My challenge of trying to get people to grow their own food is always ongoing.

A while ago I posted on my blog that I’d been given some free salad seeds and wanted to give them away.

Unfortunately not one person stepped forward which meant I’ve not got anywhere near my challenge of getting 25 people to grow  a pot of carrots this year.

I was genuinely puzzled by this.  After all free seeds are free and I wanted other people to experience the pure pleasure you get from cultivating and harvesting your own veggies.


Alas this wasn’t to be but I did continue to wonder why I couldn’t even get people I knew to engage.  Was it something I was or wasn’t doing?  So I decided to ask on Facebook the following question:

Okay, so here’s the thing…I’ve offered support, advice, free seeds and still I’m not at getting anywhere near the 25 people growing their own veggies. What gives? What have I not done, or need to do? This isn’t a sales pitch it’s genuine interest to get people to start taking back control of their own food. Tell me straight oh friends of mine, I promise any and all criticism and advice will be welcomed from a gardening, sales, marketing or any other pitch…

From that status I received enough comments to gather that the following appears to be at least some of the stumbling blocks to my idea:

  1. No space
  2. Space available is only concrete
  3. Cheaper and easier to visit a supermarket
  4. killing plants (too easily)
  5. Time
  6. Time
  7. …and time

So here are my answers that hopefully solve those issues:

  • Space – everyone has some space.  Space can be found everywhere.  When people say they haven’t got space to grow anything it could mean they are using space for something else (i.e flowers), or they don’t realise how much growing potential there is in very little space.  I mean I’m talking less than a meter, 50 cms even.  Every house has usually got some kind of patio area leading from a door, and I haven’t seen a property yet that hasn’t got a windowsill so space is definitely not a problem.  It’s just what to do with that space and finding the best possible use for it.
  • Solution –  One of two, if you’re not sure what space you have let me know, or if you’re not sure what can be grown in the space you’ve identified – let me know and we can discuss and make some suggestions.  Here are some ideas for starters.
  • Concreted area – these are great areas for growing containers on with the added bonus that you can replace them from season to season with different plants and flowers.  Just because you only have concrete or gravel areas doesn’t mean you can’t grow anything.
  • Solution – just start with one small container/pot – keep it in a corner so it doesn’t look out of place and fill it with compost.  One container could grow one type of vegetable or fruit such as potatoes, raspberries, carrots, tomatoes… the list goes on.  You could even have a container next to a fence and grow hops along the fence if you fancied blocking your neighbours out and growing your own beer 🙂
  • Supermarkets are easier and cheaper – okay I won’t get on my soap box about this because I totally understand why anyone would say this, after all they are kinda right.  Supermarkets usually are easy to get too, but then again so is your garden.  Supermarkets are also very cheap for some goods – fruit not being one of them though which is why we have a sugar addicted society because chocolate is much cheaper than an apple.  Aside from the cheap and easy reasons you also have to weigh up the health implications of your choices.  Buying at a supermarket means you’re very often buying goods bought in bulk that have been put thorough various pesticides, and contains less nutrient value because of every previous years worth of pesticides filtering into the ground.
  • Solution – try it, just one pot of veggies in the garden and I guarantee you (100%) that your veg will not only taste better but you’ll feel so much better for knowing how that veg has been grown.
  • Killing Plants – Yup, we all do it.  Those caterpillars ravaged my cabbages, I’ve had swede seedlings killed because of slugs and I’ve even lost a few plants from forgetting to water them.  It happens but it shouldn’t put you off growing anything.  Growing your own veggies is all about experimentation and fun.
  • Solution – Gardening is like anything else, either it’s a chore or a hobby.  If it’s a chore then it’s harder to remember to do things like feed, water and so forth.  The real challenge is me finding you a reason to want to grow something.  If you want to do it’s much easier to remember the plants.  Here is one reason, here is another…and finally – here’s another.

Don’t look at it as a massive allotment project, just look at doing the one pot.

One pot per year means you only have to concentrate on that one pot.  Put a trigger with it so that every time you go outside to put your rubbish in the bin you walk past the pot so you can see what it’s doing and help it along accordingly- pests, watering, feeding.

  • Time – This one fits nicely with the one above, time will be an issue when you’re not into gardening which I understand.
  • Solution – Again don’t think of this as a massive time consuming project.  You can spend as much or as little time gardening as you want.  One pot of growing veggies is going to take about 10 minutes of (work?) per week.  The initial getting the pot, buying the compost and filling the pot, sowing the seeds and first water will take all in all (depending on how far you go for the pot, seeds and compost) about 1 hr.  After that 10 minutes every week just to check the plants and water them.

Hope that has helped somewhat.  And hopefully it’ll make you take up my challenge of growing a pot of veggies or fruit in your house/garden/yard or whatever space you have.  Because just one pot really can make a huge difference.

I’d love to know your thoughts.  How do I get you growing your own?  


Thank you to the following peeps who got in touch with me about this:

Tracie, Sophie, Mandi, Dave, Teresa, Amanda, Mark and Angie


23 responses to “Growing Your Own Food

  1. It’s a good project but I wonder if carrots are a good starter crop. In my experience they aren’t that easy to grow well and they take a while before you can harvest. But I know a lot of people like carrots!

    • That’s a great point. I hadn’t really thought of that but you’re right, carrots can be tricky, although I’ve personally always had better luck in a pot rather than the ground which is why I originally suggested it but anything goes really. I probably need to come up with a better veggie to use in my suggestion – I’ll have a think! 🙂

    • I agree, I’ve always had more luck growing carrots in a pot which was how I came to that conclusion although it might not be a good one. I know even in my raised beds this year I’ve had trouble keeping the slugs away!

    • You’re more than welcome to Linda but knowing how much you sow and grow on a yearly basis I didn’t think you’d want any. I was originally looking to get people with no experience in growing to get a pot of veggies growing but it’s a bigger challenge than I thought! If you know of anyone that could also use the seeds let me know – especially if they haven’t grown anything before 🙂

  2. I didn’t say ‘yes please’ for obvious reasons 🙂 I grow and the school grows. I’m determined to get sustainable seed from a seed bank and not the garden centre for almost all of both home and schools gardening needs for 2014.

    I hear a lot of the same reasons given as to why parents don’t grow but, that said, many of them actually bought surplus plants at the plant sale and the children grew bean plants in school which they then took home and parents are giving excellent feedback on the response from the children who have actually managed to harvest and eat their very own beans 🙂 Hopefully some of them will try to grow something themselves next year or will be happy to buy some more surplus plants.

    I think that the space issue is akin to that of someone who walks into a property in need of attention and either can see through the decay and decor and visualise the finished project and takes it on OR turns around and walks back out. That mentality got us our cottage – the couple who viewed before us only saw the 80 foot by 48 foot of 6 inch deep hardcore and tonnes of junk everywhere. They didn’t even go into the cottage. Simply turned on their heels and headed back to their car. We saw through that and, admittedly after a lot of hard graft by Mud, we now have a fabulous garden including a good growing space.

    I see a space now and think “What can I grow there?” 🙂

    I hope you manage to achieve your goal in the end 🙂

    • You’re definitely one of the great ‘get-growers’! Not only do you know the importance of growing your own fruit and veg but you’re actively showing our next generation how and why too 🙂

      Very interesting point though about what people perceive. I think I need to spend more time convincing people how great the end results will be.

      I’m the same with space, I’m using every spare area in the garden and I’m slowly filling up all the ‘bare’ areas. Space is everywhere, especially when you even consider the vertical properties of a wall! 🙂

  3. Sophie, I would have been happy to have some, but since I live on the other side of the pond, I didn’t figure I was eligible.

    • I’ll see how much it is to post out to the US and see what we can do. Failing that lets see if we can find you a seed swop/bank etc that you can get some cheap seeds from? Anything is possible if you’re up for it 🙂

  4. I wonder if you tried giving away baby plants, rather than seeds, it might work better… a lot of people see seeds as little specks of, well, nothing in particular, rather than little specks of wonder:)

    • That is a great idea, my only problem with that will be of getting the plants to people. Seeds are much easier to post than plants but I’m more than happy to give away surplus plants (not that I had many this yr).

      You’re right of course it’s all in the packaging. Seeds are very much of nothingness whereas plants are more physical.
      I suppose in some ways I want people to experience that delight when a mere little seeds turns into a full blown plant – as you know, it’s very impressive and never fails to excite me.
      I also love collecting seeds. Something about storing, labelling and having something back from all those months in the garden 🙂

  5. HI Soph, I too failed with carrots this year but squashes, courgette and tomatoes have been great beginners plants.

    • Yeah the toms have been fantastic this year (if a little slow to turn). I’ve promised myself to grow squash next yr now I’ve got all these raised beds and might be a lot easier than growing cabbages! Pleased to hear you’ve been enjoying yourself in the garden 🙂

  6. One of the earlier comments made a good point – catch them young! Kids love to grow stuff, especially if they can eat it at some point in the future. And they don’t have all the grown up worries about space, time and failures. Get them enthusiastic about growing food while they’re young and, with a bit of luck, they might get their parents involved too…

  7. Pingback: Growing Your Own Food | The Forget-me-Not Culti...·

  8. I totally agree about teaching kids the important about eating good food; it is annoying when adults say to kids the eating veggies is a sacrifice or even worst a punishment; actually it is the best for their bodies.

    • So very true. I grew up eating fresh veggies because I didn’t know anything else and it’s stuck ever since. By eating veggies you’re also protecting their health which is so important.

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