Failures and successes of a first time organic fruit and vegetable gardener.
Before We Started Growing Organic Food
I’ve tried to always buy some organic food in my weekly groceries, but it’s just so expensive, that I can’t afford to buy everything organic.
With zero gardening knowledge, I thought to myself, “would’t it be great to be fully sustainable at home.” Well, I haven’t achieved that — but the food we have grown has been tasty, fresh, and it’s kinda novel being able to open your back door and pick some fruit or vegetables, straight from the ground.
I have to put up my hands here. I’m not the green-fingered gardener in the house. It’s my wife. I’m more of a hacker…if you wan’t a bush annihilated, then just point it out and I’lll do it it for you. However, when it comes to growing plants, I’ve no idea where to start.
Although my wife tends the plants, she also has very little gardening knowledge…which is quite surprising, as her uncle is the head gardener of one of the UK’s most prestigious private members clubs, and her grandparents grew their own organic food their whole lifetime. She has fond memories of visiting their gardening “allotment” as a child, to pick fruit and vegetables…probably eating more than she put in the basket.
The great thing about growing organic food, is that you don’t even need a garden, or much space. There are plenty of ways around that.
And just to add that kids really enjoy having the food garden. They volunteer to water the plants, and love to help picking the food.
Those good-natured people at Rocket Gardens kindly sent me a Traditional Wooden Crate Planter, Salad and Herb Vertical Planter, and some cauliflower and lettuce plants.
I’d purchased from Rocket Gardens before this, and was really impressed by their products — so it’s usually the first website I visit now, before buying vegetable or fruit plants. I always buy the pre-grown plants, as growing from seeds takes longer, and isn’t always successful.
They grow vegetable and herb plants at their organic nursery and farm in South Cornwall — the most southerly tip in the UK, warmed by the Gulf Stream. That means they don’t need artificial heating. They also recycle the natural rainwater for the plants.
I was not paid to write this post — all opinions are my own.
Organic Food Gardening
“Build it and they will come…”
These courgette plants are massive! I’m not exaggerating when I say that friends who’ve visited our house, have later pulled out their phone to pose for a photo by it. It almost feels like having a botanical gardens at home.
We bought three starter plants from Rocket Gardens. We originally planted two of them in pots — what a failure that was, as they barely grew.
This third plant we put in ground, in a raised wooden crate, and it’s now around three feet in diameter…and still growing! If I’d have known how large it was going to become, I would have planted it further away from the path. Now we have to hack it back from the path every now and then.
The courgette is a great provider of food, as we get to eat one or two good sized courgettes every day at the moment. They’re also very low in calories, high in vitamin C, and make a great substitute for spaghetti once put through a vegetable spiralizer.
We originally planted Cauliflower in the ground, but unfortunately they got eaten within a couple of days, and we lost the whole crop — maybe the handiwork of snails, or even rabbits as we live near a wood.
This time, we are using a wooden crate to protect them. The cauliflower have only been planted this week, and we are looking forward to eating them.
We’ve had these strawberry plants for about three years. They are really prolific producers — we get about 20 good sized strawberries every day, during the summer. They are super tasty too. 🙂
The apple tree seems to be growing nicely, with lots of small fruit all over. This is it’s first year and we’re hoping to start eating them in a couple of weeks.
For When You Don’t Have Much Space
You don’t need a garden to grow food. There are many different types of container you can use. Just don’t forget to water them in the summer.
A Vertical Planter, like this one from Rocket Gardens is great for fast growing salad or herbs. I screwed two vertical planters with space for 6 plants in each, to my wooden fence. I’m growing lettuce in mine.
It would also be a great place to grow spring onions or scallions. I often buy a packet of spring onions at the supermarket, only to have them go off, as I use them up too slowly. Having them in the garden is great — I just pop out and snip off a couple of stems, then get cooking.
We dug up our rock garden, and replaced it with spinach, which we purchased from Rocket Gardens. This plant is perfect for growing in a container when you don’t have a garden, as they only need a minimum depth of about four inches of soil.
When they’re big enough, you just pop out with a bowl and some scissors, and snip off some leaves to eat. We usually get enough for a large bowl of spinach every couple of days.
Raspberry And Blackberry Bushes
We have four plant pots of raspberries and blackberries. No doubt they would grow faster in the ground, but we manage to get a small bowl of raspberries and blackberries every day, when they’re in season.
We’ve had two blueberry bushes for a few years. They produce a small bowl every couple of days.
These are one of the least successful vegetables in our garden. You need to plant a lot of them to get enough to eat. You can plant them in pots, but they require at least 18 inches deep of soil, in order to grow well.
Final Tip For Growing Organic Food
Raised beds. Don’t plant low height plants in the ground — always plant within a wooden crate, plant pots, or vertical planters, to avoid them being eaten! And don’t forget to water.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom
PS Please don’t hate me for my lack of gardening knowledge, I freely admit this — there are plenty of very talented and knowledgeable gardeners out there. I just wanted to show that even if you know nothing about gardening, you can still successfully grow your own organic food.