Growing your own veg

Is it cheaper to grow my own vegetables?

It most certainly is! The price of vegetables has rocketed recently, so if you are able to grow your own you can save considerable amounts of money. To make huge savings you will need to become a savvy grower:

  • Grow vegetables from seed as it is much cheaper than buying plugs or established plants. Follow the instructions on the pack – it is easy!

  • Buy packs of seeds when they have been reduced, usually towards the end of the summer, but always check that they will be within the 'best before' date for the next growing season. Store seeds properly, in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight.

  • Build your own cloches, cold frames and wind breaks from recycled materials. There is no need to buy expensive readymade items from garden centres.

  • Look after your soil. Compost all your own waste and dig it into the soil as often as possible. Remember to compost tissue, paper and cardboard as well as all your vegetable waste.

How can I avoid wasting what I have grown?

New gardeners often find it difficult to judge how much of each vegetable to grow. Also, different weather conditions each year can mean that you experience gluts and dearths. But remember that most vegetables can be frozen, usually by blanching, drying and freezing in bags. Also, pickling your vegetables will help you to store them. If you have too many of one crop, swap some with a neighbour or fellow grower.

How can I involve my children in growing vegetables?

Grow fruit and vegetables they like and get them to plant the seeds or the plants. Good examples include sweet corn and strawberries. Get excited with them when seeds grow. Help them to look after the seedlings. Encourage them to harvest the vegetables when ready. Involve them in preparation and cooking, but make sure it is something they like. For example, grow sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes to make lovely homemade pizzas or pasta sauces.

Where can I get advice about growing my own vegetables?

The BBC offers simple step-by-step guides to growing your own food. Useful information and advice is also available from the Royal Horticultural Society. There is a kids section on this site where you can obtain free downloadable colouring pages.

If you are interested in organic growing, you can visit Garden Organic for more information and advice.