How do I get started home growing?
For anyone thinking of heading down the garden path to home growing the variety of plants, composts, seeds, tools etc available at Garden Centre, Nurseries and on-line can be daunting – and that’s before you even get to start doing any growing.
There are many different ways that you can get the information you need to give you the confidence to get started growing your own fruit and vegetables at home. Here are just a few that we have tried or come across:
Visit your local NurseriesMost areas have a local nursery where, more often than not, the owners are more passionate gardeners than ruthless business men and so they, and their staff, will be more than happy to answer even the daftest of garden related questions (Trust me I’ve asked plenty of them myself).
Some stock seeds but they all tend to stock small fruit and vegetable plants that they have nurtured themselves. This can get you past the daunting seed growing stage so that you can transplant them straight into your garden, raised bed or container.
Go to the Nurseries section of our Local food heroes directory to find your nearest plant nursery
Look on the Internet
There are hundreds of websites about growing your own fruit and vegetables on the internet and if you want advice on any aspect of growing just typing your question into your internet search engine will bring up numerous sites with varying degrees of usefulness.
If you can’t find the answer you want then many sites have a blog or a forum which is a part of the website where you can type in your question and with any luck someone will reply to you with the information you’re looking for.
Some of the most useful sites we have come across are:
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website has lots of useful advice on how to get started growing edibles at home. The “Grow your own” page of the site has a month by month “Jobs to do” section, an A – Z of fruit and vegetables, examples of how to grow in containers as well as lots of useful information on issues such as pest control. The site also has an events listing which includes details of the many events at the RHS garden at Harlow Carr in Harrogate which has a kitchen garden and a great shop full of gardening equipment and books on all kinds of gardening related topics.
Visit their website at:
The Vegetable Garden Guide is a one stop guide to growing vegetables at home. Amongst their web pages you’ll find everything you’d expect from such a site including vegetable lists, sowing tips, composting advice and a large section of frequently asked questions about all aspects of home growing from basic questions like “where do I site my plot” and “what equipment will I need” through to more complex ones like “what are the effects of soil acidity on vegetable plants?”
Visit their website at: www.vegetable-garden-guide.com
Garden Action is probably the best site of this type we have come across. It includes in depth information on every aspect of growing you can think of for just about any fruit or vegetable you can imagine. Visit their website at: www.gardenaction.co.uk
Garden Fresco is also a good site with easy to understand information to help you get started. Visit their website at: www.gardenfresco.co.uk
If you want to grow at home but don’t want to spend a fortune to do it there are a number of sites with ideas on how to get Home Growing on the cheap or in a small space.
Backyard Farming – The Urban Homestead is a website from the USA but features lots of innovative ideas that work just as well either side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit their website at: Backyard Farming.Blogspot.com
Volunteer on a Community Growing Project
There’s nothing like watching someone else sow seeds, prepare the soil or plant onion sets before having a go supervised to give you the confidence to go home and try it out for yourself and most projects will have either a full time grower or experienced volunteers that can provide invaluable advice on most gardening subjects.
Visit our IEW Map to find local projects with volunteering opportunities.
Join a Gardening Club
We are only aware of a few gardening clubs meeting in the Wakefield, Castleford and Pontefract areas at the moment but if you know of others please let us know:
Incredible Edible Grow Your Own Sessions are every Friday morning at 10.00 a.m. at Ossett Community Centre and provide a great opportunity for anyone new to growing to try their hand at raising their own vegetables with the advice and support of other more experienced growers. .
Wrenthorpe Gardening Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30 p.m. in Wrenthorpe Village Hall.
They aren’t totally edibles focussed but do have events and speakers on related topics.
You can view there itinery here.
Outwood Gardening Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 8.00 p.m. in Outwood Memorial Hall.
Friends of Woodcock Street Allotments meet from 7.00 until 9.00pm every Monday night at Woodcock Street Allotments on Sugar Lane, Belle Vue, Wakefield.
The group is open to anyone who is interested in growing and wants to help out and pick up tips in the process. Contact Jean Richardson on 01924 375754.
Start your own Gardening Club
It may seem daunting but if you can’t find a gardening club local to you then you could start your own.
That’s exactly what Rob Godfrey did. He formed Home Grown Otley in order to attract like minded gardeners interested in promoting local food growing and sharing their experience of growing edibles.
The group now has forty plus members ranging from seasoned growers wanting to share their passion for gardening to complete novices keen to learn how to get started growing at home.
They now meet once a month to either have sowing sessions or to hear guest speakers on related topics and they also organise local events like sow-ins, pruning sessions and visits to local producers, orchards etc.
Members of the group have helped and supported each other to get home growing in whatever space they have - from cultivating herbs and salads on window sills and fruit and vegetables in pots through to starting garden plots or getting more out of their greenhouses.
Why not Garden Share?
If you don’t have a garden but have gardening experience or have a garden but aren’t sure how to get started then why not go to our GardenShare page to find out about Garden Sharing in Wakefield.
Then you can register as a grower or a garden owner or and see if there is anyone local to you who may have either the land or the experience that you are short of and would like to get growing too.
Got plenty of the green stuff?If you have the money but not the time, why not employ a gardener to do all the work and just sit back and enjoy the fruits (and Veg) of someone else’s labour?
Maybe not so cost effective but at least you’ll know where your food is coming from and what’s been done to it!
See the yellow pages for local gardeners – or for cheaper versions try the local newsagent’s window!
Or start your own green gardening business?
As Home Growing comes back into popularity there are certainly opportunities to start your own community businesses providing edible home gardens or support for home growers.
In the USA the Backyard Farmer concept has really taken off.
Your Backyard Farmer provide an organic vegetable garden right outside their client's door, customized to their family's size and dining choices and providing fresh in season produce from garden to back door.
See their website at: www.yourbackyardfarmer.com
Nearer home, in South London, Food Up Front have created a network of street reps to train, support and link up back garden growers.
Participants signing up for the scheme pay a fee and in return are assigned a street rep and receive a starter kit and access to advice, workshops, talks and social gatherings to help them get growing.
Their website is at: www.foodupfront.org