Written by: Cally Worden
Growing your own fresh produce has to be one of the most satisfying things you can do – there is nothing quite like pulling a handful of ripe tomatoes straight from the vine for a salad, or popping a just-picked strawberry into your mouth for an explosion of summer flavour. And contrary to much popular belief, you don’t need masses of outside space to achieve this dream. Even the smallest terrace or balcony is sufficient to house a few pots that can yield a surprisingly bumper crop.
These ruby delights are so easy to grow it would be rude not to. Plant in a container in a sunny spot that is sheltered from the wind. If left and watered through winter, strawberry plants will return to life and spread in the spring.
Tomato plants grow upwards, making them ideal for containers and areas with limited space. They are thirsty plants that thrive best in larger containers. The tomato fruits become heavy as they grow, so be prepared to use a stake for support, make sure the plant gets as much sun as you can. The smell from tomato plants is divine. And if the UK weather doesn’t provide enough hours of sunshine to make your crop turn red, get online and look for green tomato recipes – fried green tomatoes are delicious and so is green tomato chutney.
I’m a huge fan of bell peppers, they are so versatile and tasty. And the best part is that they are super-easy to grow. I have the least green fingers in the world (houseplants wither when I enter a room) but even I have enjoyed success with growing peppers and chillis. They are very much like tomatoes, needing lots of sun, water, shelter, and a sturdy stake to prevent them from flopping.
There is something special about growing herbs in pots. As they flourish you can snip pinches or handfuls away to enhance your culinary creations, secure in the knowledge that the stock will have replenished itself next time you pass by. Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Parsley and Rosemary are all simple enough to grow from seed. If you can keep them coming you’ll never use dried herbs again.
They may seem on the large side, but you only need one or two lettuce plants on the go at a time to maintain an almost endless supply of crispy leaves for your salads. Plant up a few seeds and be prepared to thin out the weedy ones to allow a few remaining seedlings to flourish and grow. And once they start they grow fast. Avoid them bolting by regular pruning and trimming of leaves. There are so many varieties you can try.
Cucumbers and Courgettes
When I first planted these in my veg plot several years ago I naively assumed one plant would deliver one vegetable. How wrong can you be?! Standard varieties of these plants can yield up to a dozen, they all seem to grow simultaneously. I only recently became aware that you can grow these veggies in containers, planting the varieties that are designed for compact spaces. I’ve no idea how many each plant will deliver, but be sure you like eating these particular veg if you do decide to grow them! They are unbelievably fresh and satisfying to grow and make a lovely addition to your fresh¬† kitchen stocks.