From Plant Pot to Plate – Tips to enjoy your own home grown veg

First Base has been working in collaboration with Brighton and Hove Food Partnership for several years, to help promote a healthy and sustainable relationship with food, within the community, as part of our mixed-use development proposals for Edward Street Quarter.

Here is Brighton & Hove Food Partnership’s, Alexandra Ward, explaining how simple and rewarding it can be to enjoy your own home grown veg…

Ever thought of growing your own veg?

It is a myth that to grow your own food you need an allotment or the sort of large, country garden you might see on Gardener’s World.  If you have a windowsill and enthusiasm, then there is a lot you can do to grow some food indoors.

Choosing what you want to grow may depend on the space you have available to house the plant.  If you have a very hot, sunny windowsill then you may want to choose something like chillies, radish, baby beetroot, or Mediterranean herbs like basil, rosemary and oregano.  A windowsill that gets some sun but not all day might be better for leafy greens and other herbs.  The general rule is that plants that bear fruit like more sun.

Like humans, plants thrive when their environment is right for them.  That means food, water, sun and protection from disease, insects or extreme temperatures.  Keeping this in mind, let’s look at what you might need to get you started.

Food

Using a good quality potting compost will help your plant to thrive.  The compost contains much of the nutrients your plant will need.  For that reason, choosing the right size pot for the plant you are growing is essential.  If you have a bean plant or something that requires a lot of energy to produce a fruit, then a large pot is better.  The larger the pot, the more compost to feed the plant throughout its life.  Herbs and leafy greens such as spinach may need smaller pots.  If you only have a small pot then you can always add plant food to help give it a boost.

Water

Most plants that grow indoors like the soil to be kept moist.  It is important not to saturate the soil as the roots might rot, while the plant will struggle to survive if the soil dries out completely.  Getting a pot that has good drainage and compost that holds moisture will give your plants the best chance.  You can always test the soil beneath the surface with your finger to ensure it is moist and check that the pot is not sitting in excess water.  By standing the pot on a tray or saucer you will be able to catch any water that runs through the compost.

Sun

As you might imagine, almost all plants need light and sun to grow.  However, some vegetables need less than others.  Leafy greens such as spinach is one of those plants that needs a bit of sun but does not enjoy very high temperatures.  If you are growing it on your windowsill, you may want to find a spot where it doesn’t have scorching hot sunshine all day.  There are lots of resources online which give you tips and hints on which veg like which conditions.

These growing conditions are a great place to return to if you ever need to troubleshoot an issue with your veg plant.  If it starts to look a bit tired or unhappy then assessing if it has enough food, the correct amount of water and sun is a great place to start.

Planning Ahead

Leafy greens can grow in the UK all summer so you may want to plan ahead and keep sowing.  Sowing every 2-3 weeks means that once one set of lettuce or spinach has grown and been consumed, the next lot will already be growing.  This is known as successional sowing.  Successional sowing will mean you have a constant supply until September and maybe even October.

What do you like to eat?

Another way to choose what you want to grow is to think about what you eat or to pick a veg that is versatile.  Leafy greens are a good example of veg that can be used in salads, pastas, quiche or smoothies.  You can find more great recipes here.

For more information & ‘how to’ videos on growing in pots or a small space home visit https://bhfood.org.uk/grow-your-own-no-garden-no-problem/

First Base is committed to sustainability and improving the health and wellbeing of local residents as part of our £400m social value delivery at Edward Street Quarter over the next 20 years.  For more information on the development please visit edwardstreetquarter.com.  For more information on Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, please visit https://bhfood.org.uk/