How to grow your own that doesn’t cost the earth
Most people who decide to serve some home grown food do so not just to save money but for a number of reasons. If you value fresh tasty and healthy food and want to add some physical exercises in fresh air it makes sense to have a go at growing your own – or at least some of it. For many people gardening is also a hobby and adds more than the end result(food) to our well being. We learn to be more connected to the seasons and for some are also more in tune with the moon (if you follow the lunar calendar) Gardening can get quite costly if you buy all the gadgets available on the market, but you can be just as successful with a minimum of equipment. You will be amazed what some smart gardeners come up with if you look around allotment sites, which can be quite entertaining as well as informative.
In I hope you will find the following tips useful and cost effective order to grow your own, you need good compost, seeds or seedlings, containers to germinate the seeds and area to grow the chosen crops and a few tools You can save water by following a few basic rules and can bypass the shelves with chemicals and weed killers if you follow the organic principles.Ready available “weeds” can be turned into high quality fertilizers, the power of the moon can be used to our advantage and pests can be tricked or trapped with natural methods.Let’s get started, with seeds and the medium you are to grow them in (compost)If you have missed to go to your local seed swap you might get lucky if you talk to allotment holders who might have some seeds left or have too many seedlings they can handle. IF you are going to buy seeds, I do advice you to buy good quality organic seeds NOT hybrid seeds (biodynamic seeds are available here and detailed information about hybrids are lined out in the link to open pollinated seeds on the web site. In short Hybrid seeds are expensive, you can’t save your own seeds and are not suitable for gardeners. IF you want to grow organic healthy food, start with the seeds which carry all the genetics of the later product and are not covered with chemicals.
testThere are a lot of different types of compost available, but if you want to save money, buy organic, peat free compost in bulk . (or use your own compost , even cheaper) To start your seeds, add sand and grit to the compost (seeds need light and moisture to germinate, but not a lot of nutrients) Cover nwith a clear lid to keep moist. When pricking the seedlings out they need more nutrients, available in the compost but no need to add fertilizers at this stage (or they grow too fast and become weak and “leggy”. When you are ready to plant seedling to final spot, you can add specific materials during the growing period. Most root vegetables like wood ash and a bit of bone meal, calabrese (cabbage family) does better with some extra nitrogen (liquid feed made with nettles and comfrey) and sea weed adds mineralsThe propagators you can buy are handy, but just as good are empty croissant containers (made of clear plastic with a lid) and numerous other food containers which can be recycled (make sure whatever you use that there are holes for drainage in the bottom) For peas I like to use short pieces of plastic gutters and crops like cucumbers, sweet corn and beans do well in unbleached loo roles. These can be planted out and will eventually rot whilst the seeds don’t get disturbed through transplanting . There are compostable seed containers available in garden centres, but they cost money and most of them are made of peat which is not sustainable. Better to make your own pots of newspaper (you need a glass or plastic cup with a straight side, roll newspaper round and fold the overlap) Plant the seedling with paper pots, which also keeps the small plants moist.The tender small plats can be protected from cold winds and pests with clear plastic bottles .Other strategies to keep the slugs off your seedlings are to add a protective ring of coffee grinds, egg shells, hair, or any other sharp material around them. You also can lure the slugs into beer traps (bury container with stale beer into ground) or create dark moist space (empty grapefruit halves, cabbage or rhubarb leaves…..) and collect slugs from there. For container grown plants, just add grease to the outside of pots(also good for legs of shelving with tasty plants on top)I nailed a strip of rough sanding paper to my raised beds, which is cheaper than copper strips, which also works well. Some scrap yards sell copper sheets by weight which are cheaper than the ready made copper rings.Horsetail can be made into a “tea” to fight fungi and wormwood or tansy ward off unwanted insects and pests. (see articles )If you got limited space, use it wisely and grow produce which is expensive to buy (salad leaves are best fresh and don’t take up a lot of space) By composting your garden clippings, some weeds (not couch grass or bind weed or diseased plants) you can make your own compost and seeds from peas and beans are easy to save for next year!