Living Sustainably: Growing your own food
According to the Guardian, demand for seeds has increased sixfold during lockdown so there’s never been a better time to give gardening a go. Living in a central London apartment with a balcony as the only accessible outside space, I knew I was going to have to be realistic about what I was going to be able to grow, but nonetheless wanted to give it a try. I decided to start with growing a few varieties of herbs because although I’m able to buy them packaging free from my local store, the quantities I have to buy mean I often struggle to use them up in time. So the thought of being able to cut off a few leaves whenever I needed them was hugely appealing. You can buy potted herbs at the supermarket, which is better than buying cut herbs in a plastic bag, but the peat and plastic pot they use meant looking for a more sustainable approach.
Jamie Oliver and BBC Good Food both have really helpful guides for growing herbs which I consulted before getting started. Armed with a little knowledge, I went about getting hold of the materials I’d need to start growing - pots, soil / compost, plant feed (not strictly necessary), and of course seeds. Etsy has a huge range of gardening equipment - I went for this hanging herb garden. For the soil / compost I bought All Purpose Compost with added John Innes from the Garden Superstore and for the plant feed Organic Liquid Seaweed Plant Fertilizer from Sea-Chem. The herbs types I decided to plant were mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sweet basil, coriander, tarragon, chives, and parsley, with seeds purchased from Suttons and some advice on which herbs could be planted together gleaned here.
My herbs at a few days (top), and today (bottom)
As you can see from the photo, progress so far is promising. The top photo shows the plants on 27 April, a few days after sowing, and the bottom photo is from today (10 May). I’ve followed the advice to keep the plants indoors until they germinate but will soon move them outdoors now that the weather has improved. The coriander has become a bit tangled and the mint is lagging behind so there is work to be done but I’m hopeful of being able to use homegrown herbs in my cooking soon!
Growing herbs is only the beginning in terms of home gardening, even if you don’t have a lot of outdoor space. While you might not be able to grow enough to be self-sufficient, it is incredibly satisfying to grow something yourself and once I’ve got the herbs under control I’ll be looking at what else I can grow. For more have a read of these articles in the Guardian and Independent. Happy gardening!