With the lengthening evenings and birdsong accenting the twilight, it’s soon time to sow seeds if you have budding ambitions of self-sufficiency in your garden. With over 40,000 individual allotment plots and 741 sites in London, growing vegetables in the city is a long-running tradition. Plus, London’s great community gardens demonstrate how they have brought people together over time to share skills, build community and enrich the cityscape. Since the 1990´s there has been an allotment renaissance as the organic food market grew in popularity. However, waiting lists for London allotments can run into decade-long affairs. Spiked by the Covid pandemic, many people are transforming their garden spaces to cultivate closer to home. London is home to the Capital Growth project, one of the world’s largest urban food-growing networks. As part of a social initiative, it offers training, support, and practical help to Londoners who want to grow their own food. With all this in mind, we will look at ways you can grow vegetables this year in London.
Allotments have been around since Anglo-Saxons were rocking the island. However, after the Enclosure acts from 1604- 1914 as common land was usurped by landowners, the right to have a plot to grow food was lost. In the early 1900s councils were obliged to provide allotments if there was a demand for them. During the Dig for Victory campaign of the Second World War 1.3 million tonnes of food was cultivated from 1.5 million allotment plots. These plots spread out into public parks and disused railway lines making use of available space. Allotments are great places for urban biodiversity as they provide for many pollinating insects and other wildlife. London’s national allotment society is a great resource for growers, plus each allotment will have its own community with group activities and events. For some people during the pandemic, allotments were a place of great solace and productivity in the face of the shock of the initial food shortages. If you want to find an allotment near you or get on a waiting list, you can apply here.
Since the 1990´s gardening styles have changed to incorporate the raised bed. Walking around any London allotment you will find wild and wonderful versions of this horticultural furniture. Often made from railways sleepers or recycled materials, the raised bed allows for simple structures to allocate vegetables, sometimes following the No Dig principle of gardening. Often championed for reducing time weeding and preparing the ground, raised beds can be easily created in a garden if you have a bit of space. By building a simple wooden frame for the bed, lining it with weed resistance fabric, and filling it with compost, you have an instant place for your seedlings or plugs to start off in. Easy to build and aesthetically pleasing, you can woodchip the paths in between beds, or find another way to minimize weeding. By sourcing bulk compost you can ensure your soil will be nutritious and you can minimize trips to the garden centre for smaller quantities.
Container gardening and vertical walls
Vertical gardening has become common in the biophilic revolution of office space and city centres. Maximizing wall space to foster plant growth has multiple benefits. Similarly, it can be utilized for growing herbs and greens with a quick growth cycle. A green vertical wall is often incorporated in carbon-neutral home design, as an aesthetic feature but also a practical one. However, it is still possible to transform a front garden, patio, or balcony into Demeter´s paradise with good old grow bags, containers and the legendary green fingers. Assess your space to see what the possibilities are and what plants you want to grow. For crops like courgettes, squashes, potatoes, and onions larger beds are required. Tomatoes grow vertically and can be cultivated in limited spaces and work well in conservatories and balconies. If your motivation is to save money on buying organic food, consider what are your great expenses and if they can be cultivated in containers
Microgreens and Sprouting
One fashionable food that is expensive to buy and cheap to grow is microgreens. Microgreens can be cultivated indoors or outdoors on a balcony or greenhouse. Nutrient-packed baby shoots yield potent vitamins and minerals on a short life cycle so you can guarantee you will always be able to harvest for salad. You have a whole range of baby vegetables to grow so there is plenty of variety, ranging from broccoli, kale, radish to herbs like basil and coriander. To grow your own microgreens all you need is some space, trays, a little soil, and sunlight. Within two weeks you will have already enjoyed your own harvest and depending on the scale of your operation it is relatively inexpensive to set up. Comparing the cost of buying microgreens and sprouts and cultivating them at home is an absolute no-brainer.
Seeds or Plugs
While microgreens are a quick yield project in a fairly contained space, growing all your crops from seed can take up quite a bit of indoor space in the earlier months of March and April. Luckily there are many places where you can source vegetable plug plants that will be ready to plant out when the time is right. The first week of May is usually a sure bet that frost will not damage your young progeny, but hardier vegetables can go out earlier. Sourcing your vegetable and herb plugs from a reliable nursery can save you the trouble of growing from seed and the potential tragedies afoot of losing them to a variety of natural calamities. Delfland Organic nursery delivers plugs to community gardens with a delivery system based on when it is the right time of year to plant those varieties. Many other nurseries will deliver vegetable plugs to your door, so you can plan what you want, order, and then plant!
Aussie – London’s favourite removals and storage company
Many people are turning their fingers green to bring food to the table as food costs increase. Finding a home with a garden large enough to set up your own cornucopia may pay dividends in the end. After all, it’s not just the great produce, gardening is something 44% of Britons are said to enjoy, and its health benefits are obvious. When the time comes for you to replant your family or household in a new location, Aussie is ready and willing to ensure happy to ensure all your roots remain intact in the process. With our range of vehicles and services, we bring all our expertise in the removals and storage industry to every job we undertake. If your move involves downsizing or renovating, we have storage solutions that can ensure you a spacious transition. You can rely on our Google reviews to prove we can truly deliver on the day, whatever the scope of your move. For a guaranteed fresh start it’s worth having a positive and professional team taking care of all the details. Leaving you to focus on where the sun and moon are in your seed-planting cycle. Get in touch today for a quote or a chat with our team.