Rented Home: Growing Your Own Food

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As soon as we found out that we’d managed to secure the house we’ve just moved into, Luke and I have been especially excited about growing our own food. 

It seems that having a garden and the access to the space in which we can grow plants has come just in time. All this Corona Virus stuff is scary business and with all the stockpiling and panic buying going on, the fruit and vegetable aisles in all the supermarkets are completely bare. Even now, 4 weeks after quarantine measures were introduced, supermarkets are still struggling to fill their shelves. It seems like now is the best time ever to begin growing your own food.

Black board that says 'Grow Your Own' with some vegetable seeds, some gardening gloves and some flower pots on grass.

Growing your own food, whether it be fruit, vegetables or herbs (or all of the above) serves several great purposes. 

  • It’s a great way to teach kids about where their food comes from. As a vegetarian, this is something that I am really passionate about. 
  • It also gives you the chance to discuss the science behind germination and pollination etc. 
  • Packets of seeds are very cheap, and when compared to the amount of produce you can harvest from your own plants, it makes growing your own an extremely worthwhile endeavor. 
  • You can attract bees and other insects into your garden. 
  • It’s fun and gives you the perfect opportunity to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and spend time with the kids! 

So it seems like now is the best time to get cracking and transform our little back garden into a space that’ll provide us with loads of fresh food throughout the year. 

Useful Books

I’ve wanted to do this for ages, so I have a couple of books that Luke and I have been looking through over the years. Recently we’ve spent a lot of time flocking through the Usborne Gardening Book For Beginners which is PERFECT for kids. We’ve also spent some time looking at Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet which is also amazing and has loads of helpful and ingenuitive ways to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables in your garden, even if you only have a limited space.

What we have planted?

Since we have a rented house, we can’t go digging up the grass to make room for flower beds. We’ve had to factor this in when growing our own food and trying to figure out what we can successfully grow in the few pots we’ve got lying around.

Carrots and Parsnips

Firstly, we already had a big wooden raised bed that was filled with strawberry plants. This came with the house, so to speak, so we’ve dug up all the strawberries and repotted them elsewhere. I don’t think they’ve been potted in the best way, but they’ll be okay until we can get to a garden centre and find something a little fancier for them. This meant that the wooden flower bed was now free for us to use! As it’s quite deep, we decided that this was the best place for us to grow our parsnips and carrots. Currently we have one row of parsnips – these came on seed tape so they were easy to lay down and plant. We also have one row of carrots. We’ve got lots of seeds left over, so I think I may try and plant some carrots indoors. I’ve seen that you can plant them in jars and plastic bottles which sounds like a fun thing to do as we’d be able to watch the carrots form! 

Strawberries

As these were already here when we moved in, we obviously haven’t planted them! But I have dug them up and repotted them. I’m going to head to the garden centre when the lockdown is lifted and buy some better pots for them, or I may order these stacking pots from Amazon. Either way, by mid summer, we should hopefully have a healthy strawberry crop!

Runner beans

You can’t grow your own food without planting runner beans! Every year my dad plants runner beans and every year the entire family gets ‘gifted’ what seems like a never ending supply of beans. We have planted our own this year! We created a teepee from bamboo that we cut from my grandpa’s garden and used a big rubble bucket on the patio to grow them in. 

French radishes

French radishes were the first bunch of seeds that we planted. Luke picked the seeds out while we were on a shopping trip to The Range and we picked up a few grow bags while we were there. This all happened about a week before lockdown was put in place; I’m so glad this was something we were already planning on doing otherwise we’d not have had the necessary items to get started. They’ve been growing now for about a month and a half and they’re really starting to look like radishes now. Unfortunately, Oscar got a bit trigger happy with the seeds and emptied the entire packet into one space, so I’m not sure we’re going to have the best quality crop, but Luke’s thrilled that they’re growing so well anyway. 

Spring Onions

The last lot of food we’ve planted, also in grow bags, are spring onions. I think these are pretty speedy growers and we’ve already seen them start to shoot up after planting them about 2 weeks ago. We’re always going through spring onions so these will be a really helpful one to have! 

Close up of a strawberry plant

We’ve also planted a few flowers.

So no garden of mine was ever going to exist without a few flowers being thrown in the mix. Mikey made me a wooden raised bed and I’ve managed to sort of fill it with 80l of compost I ordered online. In there I have planted sweet peas, nasturtiums (which are also edible and great in salads) and a packet of wildflower bee mix. I’ve made a rustic looking support for the sweet peas to climb up using fallen sticks that I have just tied together with string. 

I have plans in the future to pick up some hanging basket brackets for fences, so that I can have more flowers dotted around the garden without having to dig any holes in the grass. We also have a hook in our front porch which would be perfect for a hanging basket. 

Upcycling and reusing items we’ve had lying around.

You may be noticing that there’s a lot of recycling going on! We’ve tried to keep costs down as much as possible and collect materials as and when so that we don’t have to go out unnecessarily. We’ve been using old pots and buckets to plant our seeds in, creating watering cans from milk bottles and using sticks from the ground and bamboo cut from the garden (pre lockdown) to create support for the climbing plants. Mikey even repurposed our old rabbit run that we had before we moved house into a raised flower bed for my flowers.

Even though a lot of the items used are things that we’ve had lying around, I think it all looks nice! Repurposing items in this way always makes me think of Jamie Oliver growing herbs in tin cans and how they somehow had a magical kind of rustic charm. 

Image of saplings and text that reads 'growing your own food - how to grow your own food, even if you rent your house and garden.

Updated progress.

As the plants grow, I’ll definitely do little updates on their progress! I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, having a garden is really dreamy so I’m excited to document the process. 

Do you have a garden in a rented house? I’d love to see what you’ve done to make it ‘your own’, please share pictures with me on twitter or Instagram! 

8 comments

  • We’ve been doing the same. We had a couple of plant pots and some soil so planted some chilli seeds and we’ve got a yogurt pot ready for the next things we decide to plant. Like you we are restricted to what we can do as we rent our home.

  • There’s so many things to re-purpose as planters – when you start looking at things as potential planters – happy growing – what a fun thing – I have some chilli’s in – just about to check some tomatoes in – and do that by slicing a tomato and planting it – I love the random will it grow – and let nature do what it might choose to 🙂

  • I have been doing lots of gardening too especially with the lockdown. You have inspired me to use growbags more as this is something I have not done before. I have some beans, potatoes, strawberries sprouting already so excited about this year’s vegetables.

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