Container gardening for allotments and homes

We’re told that many more people want to grow fruit, flowers and vegetables at home in the current economic climate. This could be an attempt to save money (in which case they are on a hiding to nothing, honestly speaking!), or a concern about food miles and carbon footprints or just that UK holidays have become more attractive (or families even do without a summer holiday because money’s tight) leading people to realise they can be at home to nurture plants through the summer.

So … how do you get started?

Well there are loads of starter kits out there and very gorgeous they are too, but assuming you have a little common sense and no money, why not look at what you’ve already got to serve as containers?

In the picture are an old metal trough that a neighbour was throwing away and a plastic shopping bag on which the handle snapped. Both have holes drilled in the bottom and a layer of grit to allow for good drainage. The trough has a row of radishes in between two rows of carrots which we will pick at fingerling length and the shopping basket will produce three reasonable-sized parsnips: not as long as the ones I grow on the plot because it doesn’t have enough depth, but enough for a meal. And the reason I bother with that basket of parsnips? That basket, the trough and a couple of other old receptacles, are filled with last year’s tomato compost mixed with a third of the volume of sand and they make superb straight parsnips in soil that would otherwise just be scattered on the garden, so I get two years of crops from every grow-bag, if you like.

This works because parsnips and carrots will fork or fang in an overly rich soil or one that has stones in, so by re-using a semi-exhausted growing medium (tomatoes are demanding) I can grow crops outside my back door in soil and containers that would otherwise pretty well be thrown away.

And I happen to think they look rather attractive. Nifty and thrifty, that’s my motto!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, April 7, 2011

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