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Growing Small

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

One of the reasons I started my own business was to make growing more accessible. I love to encourage people to grow and I truly believe that whatever your age, income, physical abilities, everyone has the capabilities to grow and become a gardener. I don’t want anything to get in the way of encouraging people, we try to keep our costs low in order to encourage customers to try a plastic free alternative but really gardening doesn’t have to cost you anything but a packet of seed (and even then you can garden without having to buy anything). We encourage lots of up-cycling and I’m a firm believer in using what you have, you can find plenty of tips here.

But the absolute one thing that should not prevent you from growing is space. No space is too small and I can prove it.

I’ve had a few gardens, never an allotment (fingers crossed, this could be my year) but prior to my current garden I lived in a flat for many years and as an avid garden it was really difficult for me. I still continued to grow houseplants but I really missed growing my own food. You see, I love a harvest and judge the success of my growing season on the taste of my yield. Other than seeing the seed germinate at the beginning of the journey, it’s my favourite part of the growing process. But living in the flat I didn’t have a balcony, just four window ledges (North/West facing) it was light and the windows were big and the ledges wide, so I accepted the challenge. Whatever it took I was going to grow.

So I began playing around, sowing salad leaves, herbs, microgreens. I experimented with grow lights - it was all so much fun. But I was slowly running out of inspiration and then I discovered a book called Indoor Edible Garden written by Zia Allaway, which is one of our bookshelf recommendations on the website, and my motivation took on a whole new level. This book outlines all you need to know about growing produce in your home. It breaks your home into light zones and explains what is best grown in which light zone. It has a wealth of ideas for planting pots, jars, buckets, tubs (all things that are probably sitting in your home right now in a cupboard somewhere not being used), are put to good use growing vegetables. Vegetables that you wouldn’t think you could grow on a window ledge, like carrots, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes...are all possible. There are even certain citrus and fruits that are quite difficult to grow in our climate but in your home under the right conditions are possible to grow, such as peaches, nectarines, varieties of fig, pineapple guavas and calamondin oranges. This book taught me to think bigger and make better use of the space and light that I had. It was a real inspiration and it wasn’t like other gardening books, it was aimed to help you utilise your home so that you don’t even miss or need a garden.

It was shortly after buying this book that I decided to grow chillies and if you’ve read my other blog Chilli Fest, you know how out of hand that got! I started growing a couple and had such great success that I worked out I could actually grow a maximum of twenty chilli plants, five on each of my window ledges. So I set to work, reading about the type of conditions they like and at times, I was a little discouraged thinking that perhaps they wouldn’t get enough light or warmth but in the end I gave it a go. I started out small and I was thrilled at the results. And if you know anything about chilli plants, they can provide an incredible yield at harvest time but in the time leading up to that, they were ornamental beauties that looked like regal gems. My passion for growing them grew. I have sown different varieties every year and there are some any to choose from! Ones that are decorative with purple flowers, deep rich foliage and even some variegated varieties. It was the most fun I’ve had growing without a garden.

And before, when I said you don’t need anything to get you started, it’s true and I will probably go out of business telling everyone this but you can grow something from your groceries. Save the stone from your avocado, save the seed from your store bought pepper or chilli, it’s all free why not use it, what have you got to lose? I have sown so many things over the years and I’m always constantly amazed, I’ve grown ginger (that spent too long on the vegetable bowl), garlic (same thing), lemon seeds...even today I had an apple seed germinate that I sowed from a store bought apple last month. Don’t let people dissuade you, that seed may not turn into a productive apple tree but you know what...there’s a chance it might, it clearly wants to be something or it wouldn’t have germinated! And that’s the joy of gardening, there are so many ways in which to grow something and if your purpose is to grow something just to see if you can, then I think that has a childlike innocence and excitement that you should definitely embrace.

I guess the reason I wanted to write this blog is to inspire you to garden where ever you are and to show you that you don’t need huge amounts of equipment, space or even knowledge and experience, half of the fun of gardening is that you really don’t know what’s going to happen. You can study and research techniques and “the correct” way to grow something but there will always be one exception to the rule and that could be you. So find your own way, it’s your journey and you shouldn’t let anything stop you, least of all space.

You don’t need a big garden or an allotment patch to grow your own, you don’t even need a balcony, all you really need is natural light and the belief that you can. If along the way you need any tips or advice you can always pick up a book, there is a wealth of knowledge out there or you are welcome to contact me, I’m always happy to share my experiences.

Small beginnings lead to big adventures.

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