- a blog about food and value

Growing your own is easier than you think

993315_91223599I moved to the country three years ago and I have been growing my own vegetables and herbs each year. It is so satisfying and you don’t need to live in the country, have a big garden or even have a garden at all.

When we lived in Dublin we had cabbage, mint and broccoli growing in an old bath tub. My sister lives in the centre of Rathmines and manages to grow broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, courgette, and loads of herbs in her front garden. You can even grow vegetables and fruits in plant pots if you have no space.

I must stress that I don’t have green-fingers; all my house plants are dead or wheezing but I faired well outside with nature giving me a helping hand and produced an organic crop without any fuss.

It is important to start thinking about it now though. If you are growing in a plot, it’s time to dig up the soil and nip down to a garden centre and select some seeds and start cultivating.

Last Spring I cultivated the plants from seeds indoors and then planted them when they were robust enough. Peas are so easy to grow and they are incredibly tasty. Shallots and carrots are also very easy to grow and require very little attention – in fact any of the root vegetables tend to do their own thing.

If I can do it, you can do it. Last year, after weeks of neglecting the patch, I remember pulling my first courgette out of the ground and I couldn’t believe that it came from that messy seed I planted. Sure isn’t nature mighty?

This is the first stage of growing your own, I’ll be back with stage two in a few weeks:

Have you grown your own and will you be attempting to do it this year?

Where to grow:

  • If you have a large garden, seal off an area with lots of light and dig a patch breaking up the soil to make it as light as possible. If it’s your first time don’t get too ambitious and tear up the lawn – it’s surprising what you can grow in a small space.
  • If you don’t want to dig up a vegetable plot, you could find space for the odd vegetable plant in gaps between existing plants.
  • If you have no garden space at all – Grow in a small pot, sow in a window box on your window-ledge or buy a grow-bag from a garden centre for your balcony.


  • Select what you want to grow, plant the seeds in a tray and keep them in a sunny place in your house, be sure to keep them watered. This is the most tentative stage but worst comes to worst you can always plant more.
  • Depending on the seed, you should see life within a week or so.


  • You’ll need pots, trays, compost and gloves.
  • For a larger plot, you may need a spade or fork and a trowel
  • Make sure all containers have holes at the bottom for drainage
  • Start with easy to grow plants and herbs, such as lettuce, chives, peas, shallots, carrots, scallions. These can all be grown in pots too.
  • Grow flowers among your vegetables to attract insects, I let weeds grow around the plot and these were great at attracting insects; equates to less work for you too.
  • Water, particularly in warm weather.


  1. See, my parsley is wilting gently on the windowsill, and my basil died a soggy death 🙁 I shall continue to use the grocers on the corner….

  2. Yes Triona, that has been my experience also with buying a parsley and basil pot. Anyone know what’s the best thing to do with plants bought from the supermarket?

  3. Brendan, don’t buy them. Go to a garden center and get a proper one. The one’s in the supermarket aren’t meant to last.

  4. I’ve planted out the herbs from the supermarket and they grew well for me (in a large pot) – they are lots and lots of seedlings so if you gently pull them apart you will give them more of a chance.

  5. I bought my boyfriend an allotment for Christmas and we’ve been working on it since February. It’s hard, especially as we’re trying to be as organic as possible. So far we’ve sowed rhubarb, onions and garlic and we have loads more stuff growing or propagating or whatever it’s called in the house. I can’t wait to actually eat something I’ve grown! PS There isn’t a green finger between us but we haven’t killed anything yet

  6. I think Tammi’s in the ball there, I heard they pack all the seedlings together so that they will die in the tiny pot.

    How much are seeds and the likes, is it really cheaper than going to the grocer? I know this could seem like a silly question but when you take things like – time, effort, equipment, pots, seeds, compost, failed crops etc. into consideration are you really saving any money or are you just giving yourself a cheap hobby?

  7. GM, it depends on what you grow… i usually have a supply of salad leaves in the summertime which saves money as the seeds are cheap and give lots and lots of plants. Potatoes won’t save you money as they are cheap anyhow BUT you won’t get nicer than your own, freshly dug baby new queens ….. flavour is probably one of the best reasons to grow your own!