There are few things better than sitting out in the garden on a sunny day. Barbeques and garden parties, relaxing with a glass of wine in the evening with your partner or watching your kids play- it’s a place where memories are made. But the garden can be so much more than a place to kick back and relax. Growing your own is not only a fun hobby to keep you fit, but it can save you some money too. If you’re looking to get into this, here are some of the best things to plant and grow in the garden.
A Herb Garden
Fresh herbs are expensive to buy but easy to grow, so by creating your own little herb garden, you could save a good amount off your weekly food shop. You can buy packets of seeds for £1-£2 on eBay which will provide you with a plentiful crop right the way through the growing season. Since herbs are quite delicate, growing them in a raised bed or planter is a good idea (it saves you from having to constantly bend down to water or harvest them too.)grab some good quality wood from a company like George Hill Timber and knock up a simple rectangular box which you can fill with soil. From parsley to coriander and mint to woodier herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage, you’ll have a tasty supply right the way through to the autumn. Any that’s still growing at this time can be dried or frozen to be used over the winter when the plant dies out.
There are lots of gorgeous fruit trees that grow very well here in the UK. From apples, pears, peaches, plums and apricots, most of these are ready to harvest late summer and early autumn. If you have a plentiful supply (after gorging on as much fresh fruit as you want!), make it into jams, jellies, pickles, and glazes. Fruit can be canned, or baked into various recipes while it’s fresh and then frozen for later consumption. Plus, the rest of the year you have a beautiful looking tree, many of which produce blossom in the spring time. To make life easy, you could choose a self-fertile variety which will produce fruit without another variety of the same fruit tree nearby. You can buy these in most garden centres these days and are an excellent addition to any garden.
If you don’t have a lot of space, or have curious pets or pests which like to nibble on your crops, growing things in hanging baskets is a good idea. They’re out of the way and can be hung either side of your door which looks pretty too. Strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and chilli peppers are all examples of foods which do well grown in hanging baskets. The only thing to be aware of is plants will deplete nutrients much quicker in a small container, so ensure you’re providing the right feed. The exact balance of nutrients will depend on whatever you’re growing, so be sure to do your research. They will also dry out faster too, so make sure you’re watering frequently enough. They might be a little more work, but lots of crops really thrive in hanging baskets, not to mention look incredible too when they start trailing over the edges.
If you’re a little bit more skilled in the garden and want to take things to the next level, a greenhouse is a good investment. It allows you to extend the growing season and also have a lot more control over your crops. Greenhouses can be cold, warm or hot depending on what you’re growing. Bear in mind that heating a greenhouse can be expensive, so if you’re growing food to be frugal, then a cold frame might be your best bet. Greenhouses allow you to grow tender crops like aubergines, cucumbers, and peppers through the summer months, and also allow you to harvest things like French beans earlier. Plus, it gives you a place where you can start off all of your crops early in the year. This gives them a head start as they’ve already started growing when you plant them out in the garden.
Growing your own food is extremely rewarding, so if you’re looking to get into a productive and worthwhile hobby, (all while saving you cash on your food shop) gardening won’t disappoint. Do plenty of research for each crop you plant so you can ensure it will grow correctly.