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Free Food: Grow Your Own

Photo from

Photo from

When I moved to the countryside a couple of years ago it was assumed that I would be baking tarts, making doilies, and hand-rearing lamb in the living room – or at the very least cultivating my own vegetable patch.

I can’t say I have done all of the above but I did have great success with a vegetable patch.  I hadn’t a clue to start with and I was fairly neglectful but I still managed to produce peas, shallots, potatoes, carrots, spinach and rhubarb; all organic and not a hint of a pesticide. Best of all, it’s free food; if I can do it, anyone can. I’m probably getting a bit ambitious but I’m going to try and grow some veggies and herbs this autumn to harvest in the winter. This is what you can plant now:

1. Spring cabbage: I grew this in an old bath in my back garden when I lived in Dublin and it flourished.

2. Rhubarb chard: There is a ridiculous amount of rhubarb growing on the patch at the moment, this is a beast of a plant that anyone can grow.

3. Turnip: Not a fan of turnips but now is a good time to plant.

4. Spring onion: I had great success with shallots  last spring and I have heard that now is a great time to plant the delicious spring onion.

5. Claytonia : Also known as miners lettuce; this can be grown indoors or out and is great in salads.

6. Corn salad: Sometimes referred to as lamb’s lettuce; this is a hardy winter plant that also goes great in salads.

7. Kohl rabi: Not often seen in shops; this relative to the cabbage is similar to a turnip and is very easy to grow.

8. Rocket: this grows very well and is expensive to buy in supermarkets so it will save you cash.

9. Mustard Greens: These winter salad leaves provide a spicy kick and can also be added to Chinese cooking.

Have you had success with planting in your back garden? Any tips on what to plant now?


  1. Reminds me of that “Mitchell and Webb Look” sketch where the farmer whispers conspiratorily to the camera “Look! These chickens are made out of meat! And you can sell ’em. They lay eggs! For free! Its practically printing money!!!”

    A second similar sketch has the same farmer ranting about plants that just “magically grow” in the ground. “For free!! And you can eat ’em. Or sell ’em!!”

  2. Growing indoors any time of the year – basil and parsley. I’m experimenting with chives atm.

    Are you sure about the kohlrabi though? A friend of mine planted his ages ago and its about ripe now, so i’m not convinced that now’s the time?

  3. He he, I love Mitchell and Webb! The whole growing thing is fairly new to me (only the last two years) so it may seem like I’ve just been born! It’s just that I thought that the whole thing would be really hard (especially growing organically) but it was much more straight forward. I have chickens too and I’m always astonished when an egg pops out and then I eat it! It truly is magical. Essentially I’m a city girl with a lot to learn.

  4. As far as I’m aware you can sow kohl rabi in September provided it is a purple variety. It’s the white and green varieties that are sown from March to the end of July.

  5. Don’t forget free food without the gardening effort – blackberries appearing in a hedge near you now!

  6. True. I saw a few blackberries only yesterday, they freeze very well too.

  7. Free food? My dad used to bring us to the Dublin mountains or Wicklow hills! when we were kids to pick blackberries, slough-berries, and hazelnuts! We always brought a roll of black sacks and always filled them then shared all of what we picked with everyone on our road! We would then spend our time making jams, tarts and other cakes. We where a big family and my dad would bring the ‘boys’ out fishing on a trawler he’d rent out for a day, he always came back with literally tons of fish which was also shared out with everyone on our road he never asked for money or anything in return he just loved to share his prosperity with others he was poverty stricken all his childhood and obviously hunger drove him to be a hunter/gatherer. Great man thought us a lot about how to survive off of the land & sea! He also set traps for rabbits… not my cup of tea, yet my mum made rabbit stew and I ate it! He showed all of us how to fish from start to finish, catch them put them out of their misery, wash, gut, remove the head and then cook them. We had a very small back garden but it was full of veg, herbs and fruit bushes, now I have a huge back garden and I would love for people to come along and help me set up a veg, herb & fruit garden and share in the crops Im in Dublin 5 let me know if you are interested.