7 Ways to Grow Food Without a Garden
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As you know, I love a bit of ‘Grow your own’. It’s a fantastic way to save money, reduce air miles on the foods you eat and eat more healthily.
But I have a confession…
I’m not a natural gardener!
And I admit to feeling a bit guilty, as I have a large garden. In fact, it’s a typical ‘war garden’ – long, narrow and designed for self sufficiency. However, it’s clay soil, full of horsetail and quite frankly, as the past 20 years have drifted past, we’ve added more and more grass and spend less time digging the soil.
But I am also a very solutions based person. I turn obstacles into opportunities and it’s no different with my desire to grow food, but my lack of time / inclination / motivation to garden.
So here are some of the things I do at Chez Green to grow food, without actually doing much gardening!
I’m learning more and more about the amazing properties of sprouted seeds. These are powerhouses of nutrition and require nothing more than a bit of water and about a week’s worth of care.
I grow red clover, alfalfa and I’m experimenting with broccoli. One of the easiest and most popular ‘crops’ to begin with is cress. I’m sure everyone grew this at least once when they were a child. Packed full of trace minerals and vitamins, I urge you to give sprouting a go.
Hydroponics is a way of growing food without soil and has taken the world by storm recently. Although as experts Genesis Hydro tell us, we’ve been growing like this all the way back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and NASA grew food like this in the 1990s.
The plants are grown in a medium other than soil, which could be anything from coconut fibre to rockwool. These mediums are then fed nutrient-rich solutions, water, and oxygen, providing everything the plants need to flourish. With the right system, you could see your plants growing quicker, your yields improved, and your crops stronger than ever! And you can get kits small enough to fit on a table top.
Last year I experimented with microgreens for the first time. They are similar to sprouted seeds, but grown in soil and harvested when the plants are tiny. I also successfully grew pea shoots. All of this was grown in a three foot space on my sideboard. Peashoots only take 2-3 weeks to grow and you’ll be harvesting microgreens such as kale or radish tops in as little as a week!
If you don’t have a garden, then windowboxes are brilliant for a surprising range of crops. Cut and come again salad leaves work particularly well, and, if you get it right, you could be eating something fresh every day. You can also grow strawberries or tumbling tomatoes in a hanging basket and if you like edible flowers, nasturtiams provide a riot of cascading colour that you can add to your salads.
On your windowsill
If you have no outdoors of your own then you can still grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill. Some herbs, such as basil, actually grow better indoors because they like the warmth. You’ll save a lot of money on buying small packets from the supermarket which invariably go bad before you can eat them all.
In boxes, pots and bags
Last year I grew everything in small containers dotted around the garden. And you could do the same on a balcony. This meant I could control the soil conditions by using my own compost and there was much less weeding and no digging to do. I grew potatoes, tomatoes, three types of beans, courgettes, beetroot, kale and spinach! I’m still eating some of these products today as the beans all froze perfectly.
Back in the 1990s I grew mushrooms in a polystyrene box of soil in a cupboard! And they just kept coming; I had SO many of them. Now I’ve heard that if you buy mushrooms in a shop and stick the stalks in soil, you’ll end up with new mushrooms. I don’t know if this is true, because I’ve not tried it, but it’s worth a go. And talking of which, it brings me to my final idea…
Grow from scraps
There are numerous memes on the internet about growing your own food from scraps. Apparently (again, I’ve not tried it), you can put things like celery, lettuce and onion stalks into a glass of water and they will start to spout again into something edible!
What about you – how do you grow food with limited space, time or energy?
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