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How to grow your own fruit and veg (even if you’ve got a tiny garden)

Food tastes even better when you’ve grown it yourself (Picture: Getty/ Metro.co.uk)

There’s a reason why foodies always talk about cooking with the seasons – they know that food grown in season, locally, and served as fresh as possible, is food at its most delicious.

Which might explain why growing food has become the latest must-have hobby for chefs, hipsters and families alike.

But gardeners have known all along – homegrown food just tastes better.

It’s also really easy, and you don’t need half as much space as you might think.

You can grow herbs on window sills or in pots by your kitchen door. Give them as much sunlight as you can and water soft leaves (such as basil) regularly.

Use all the space you have, and look for dwarf varieties if your patch is small.

Hanging baskets are a great way to find room above ground, and strawberries love to grow here, high above the slugs and snails that would attack them.

Deciding what to grow depends partly on your site, but also on what you like to eat. Grow things that are harder to get at the supermarket.

‘I started growing perennial flowers and herbs last year for the first time,’ says Ciarra Willard, 29.

‘I was worried that growing food would be more challenging and time-consuming but it’s so rewarding and satisfying. Now I have herbs, two pots of peppers, peas and radishes growing. I’m definitely hooked.’

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, Sam Smith, 25, can relate. He started growing veg from his central London balcony during lockdown and was so bitten by the bug that he started Pot Gang, an urban grow-your-own veg subscription service.

It delivers everything you need each month to create your own tiny farm at home, from the right seeds to sow, to the pots, propagators and compost.

Beetroot and radishes

Beetroots taste even better when you grow them yourself (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Beetroot and radishes couldn’t be easier to grow and hardly take up any space, making them perfect for small plots. What’s more, the taste of fresh beetroot and radish is incomparable to the bland (or vinegary) supermarket versions.

Sow them 2.5cm deep and 10cm apart – sow a few each fortnight for a steady, continuous crop and make sure to keep weeding and watering as they grow. Harvest once they are between a golf ball and cricket ball in size.

Boltardy is a classic beetroot (£2.29, RHS Plants) that’s really reliable, while Chioggia (£2.89) looks stunning.

SOW: March-July
HARVEST: June-October

Salad leaves

You only need a small space to grow salad leaves (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

On a patio, along the side of steps, or even on top of your bin store – you can always find room for a tray of mixed salad leaves.

Dead easy to grow (simply sow a row or two every week for salad all summer), they are also super-quick. You could harvest and eat your first salad leaves just three weeks after sowing the seeds.

Try Marshalls’ Salad Leaves – Baby Leaf Seed Mix (£1.99, Marshalls) for a cut-and-come-again crop. Fresher, cheaper and without the plastic packaging waste that comes with supermarket salad. It’s a no-brainer.

SOW: All year round
HARVEST: As soon as three weeks from sowing

Beans and peas

Broad beans and peas and ideal for beginner gardeners (Picture: Getty Images)

Grow beans and peas against a trellis on a wall, or up wigwams – broad beans are perfect for beginners and taste so much sweeter when picked from the garden. Sow two seeds to each pole, 2.5cm deep, and tie in the shoots as they grow.

You can eat the shoots and flowers of peas and broad beans in salads – look for The Sutton (£2.99, Suttons), which is a smaller broad bean variety that’s easy for beginners and can even be grown in pots.

The Crimson-Flowered (£1.95, Sarah Raven) broad bean is a heritage variety with beautiful, scented flowers that will make a gorgeous, and tasty, addition to your flower borders.

SOW: March-May or October-November
HARVEST: June

Tomatoes

Sweet cherry tomatoes can be grown on a windowsill (Picture: Getty Images/Cultura RF)

Yes, you can buy tomatoes all year round in the supermarket – but do they taste all that good?

For tomatoes that actually smell and taste like your childhood memory of the salad staple, you have to grow your own.

Chiltern Seeds’ new variety Red Robin (£2.75) is a prolific cherry tomato that only grows to 30cm – so you can grow it on a windowsill – while Tumbling Tom Red (£2.95) is perfect for a hanging basket and doesn’t need training or tying, making it extra easy to grow.

Remember to keep them watered and feed them a seaweed fertiliser or tomato feed weekly, and twice weekly once the fruit begins to grow.

SOW: March-April
HARVEST: July-September

Raspberries

Grow enough raspberries to last the whole summer (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While strawberries might be the obvious choice, raspberries are easiest to grow and will keep on cropping all summer long, year after year.

Even better, they will be happy enough in that dodgy patch of garden where not much else will grow or against a wall at the back of the border, provided they get a decent amount of sun.

They will also appreciate some freshly dug-in compost when you plant them. Choose an autumn fruiting variety – try Autumn Bliss (from £4.99, Thompson & Morgan) – as these need the least care and will keep fruiting right up until the first frost.

If the plants get too tall and unruly, tie them onto canes or a trellis.

SOW: November-March
HARVEST: August- October

Potatoes

Potatoes can be grown in a large pot

New potatoes (also known as first early potatoes) are really the only ones worth growing – bigger potatoes take up too much space and are cheap as chips (literally) to buy in the shops.

Try Rocket for a bumper crop that grows well in pots (£5.99, Thompson & Morgan). Wilko’s Potato-Growing Pot (£7.50) allows you to lift out the potatoes without digging up the whole plant, meaning it will keep cropping for longer.

Bury the seed potatoes deep in the pot now for the sweetest spuds in June, best served with hot butter and homegrown fresh mint.

SOW: April
HARVEST: June-July

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