Choosing what to grow with Jessie (@plot_37)

It can be daunting to choose what you’re going to grow, because once those seeds are planted, there’s no changing your mind. This is especially important when you’re in London and every inch of outdoor space is precious, and it’s not that simple. We all love avocado, so it sounds like a no brainer considering how expensive they are from the shop. But did you know it can take anywhere from five to thirteen years for your tree to grow it’s first avo?! Not worth it in our books.

So – we spoke to Jessie (aka @plot_37) who knows all about growing different sorts of fruit and veg in London. Have a read and find out what she recommends investing your time and love into!

Grow things that you like to eat

“Some things that you could technically grow yourself are just not worth it in limited space. Put some thought into what you want to grow and what you want actually to eat. If you don’t like radishes, don’t grow radishes.” There’s so much joy in eating the fruits of your labour, so don’t pick something you hate!

Taste the difference

There are certain vegetables that thrive from being homegrown and eaten fresh. “It’s commonly known that homegrown tomatoes are a wonderful thing. And the varieties you can get hold of are incredible but what about cucumber! A freshly picked cucumber is an unrecognisable thing as opposed to the green water-bags you can buy in a super market. Sweet and fruity! And they are prolific little creatures.” Ever eaten a raw pea straight from the vine? It’ll blow your mind.

Don’t forget about fruit!

It’s not all about veg, and you don’t need to have room for an apple tree… “Fruit is also worth growing if you enjoy eating it. Strawberries are a fantastic crop, and easy. By being clever with the varieties you choose you can extend your strawberry season over much of the spring and summer.” We just need to sort out some hemp cream and you can be transported to Murray mount (remember how close everyone together we’d all sit?!)

Choose veg with a long harvesting season

“If you are limited for space, lovingly tending to a potted Broccoli for 10 months and getting one meal out of it doesn’t really work out. On the other hand, something like Cavolo Nero or Curly Kale is a plant that keeps on giving. As you harvest from the bottom they continue to grow and provide fresh leaves higher up.” Unlimited kale? Sign us up.

Window sill gardens

Even if you have outdoor space – some veggies will have to be started on a window sill “Beans, sweet corn, peas, courgette seeds…etc will need to be started off inside and then transferred when they are big enough to cope with the real world. But if you are planning to grow chilli plants, aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers or melons the timing is less flexible. For example traditionally chillies are sown on the first of January because they take a long time from seed to fruit!” You might have to play a bit of window sill musical chairs, but if it means more veg then it should be worth it!

Low maintenance repotting

If you’re ever tried repotting (or even just potting) then you know it’s a pretty messy and time consuming task. If you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty (or getting them less dirty), choose veg that you won’t have to repot “Carrots, spring onions, spinach, radish, soft herbs  are definitely best from seed and you can sow them directly into their big pots repeatedly throughout the spring and summer for longer crops.” Yay for time saving hacks!

Choosing veg is one thing – you’ll also need to think about what pots, utensils and compost you’re going to use. Over the past decades gardeners have used peat to help grow their gardens, however the extraction of peat from its natural habitat has caused the UK bogs to be at an all-time low. “I would also like to ask everybody who is interesting in having a go with growing their own and is heading out to buy compost – please look for peat free products! There are many great peat-free composts out there and we need to be consciously rejecting the needless destruction of peatland.” Having a pretty garden is not worth the cost of destroying natural habitats!