If you want to be more eco-friendly in the way you eat this year, why not try and grow your vegetables? It's not as complicated as you think, and we've got some fantastic options for growing from your windowsill and countertop.
Preparation is the key to success, and we've got some top tips to ensure you get a golden crop.
Soil is integral to good growth. Before you plant anything, your soil needs to be dry; if it's still damp from winter, you'll need to wait. Try not to walk or stand on your soil while it's drying to not compact moisture into the ground and elongate the drying process.
Once the temperature begins to warm up, it's time to spread your compost, well-rotted manure or other soil-improvers. This is the stinkiest part of the process, but your soil will thank you for it.
Pre-warm the soil with cloches or plastic sheets for a week or two before sowing or planting seeds into the ground.
Not having a patch of grass doesn't mean you can't plant a kitchen garden/windowsill for your own that's brimming with life.
According to the foremost gardening experts in the world at Kew Gardens, these are some of the best things you can grow from a windowsill.
Cress - the peppery plant is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and ideal for a quick garnish to a sarnie or salad. The great thing about cress is that you don't need fancy compost; it can be grown on wet tissue. Line a tray with a damp tissue or cotton wool, sprinkle the seeds over the wetness and press them in. Put them in the sunshine, warmth and water them daily.
Pea Shoots - Easy-PEAsy. You can grow pea shoots from dried peas that you buy in the supermarket. Soak them in water overnight, then drain and sprinkle into a container lined with a layer of compost. Once you've placed your dried peas in the container, add another 1cm of compost. Place in the sunshine and keep the soil moist.
Baby Beetroot - Grow beetroots in pots to harvest tender baby beetroots. Sow the seeds around 5cm apart and around 15cm deep in compost. Beetroots are cluster seeds - i.e. more than one plant will grow from one seed - that's why you need to allow distance between sowing. Keep the water moist, place in the sunshine and begin harvesting once the plants grow to 5cm.
Countertop gardening is a great way to grow some greenery in your kitchen - all you need are containers, a little compost, some seeds and, most importantly, a window!
Upcycle - The great thing about countertop gardening is it gives us a way to upcycle items that may have been thrown in the bin and give them a new life. Tin cans are perfect for countertop gardens - make sure that you scrub the can (careful of sharp rims), so it's clean before adding soil and seeds.
Ready to Go - We love these ready-to-go Upcycled Hydro-Herb Kits from GoodGlassWickedWicks on Etsy. These kits are made from wine bottles (they also make a lovely gift). You can choose from Mint, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Coriander, Tarragon, Dill, Flat parsley and Curly Parsley.
Early in the spring, around March, it's a good idea to empty any compost that already rotted.
Move your usable compost into bags, ready to be spread over your garden.
Before careful when you give your compost a spring turn - hedgehogs, slow worms and other animals sometimes hibernate in toasty compost piles during the winter, and they may not be ready to vacate yet. Take cure to slowly and carefully turn your compost to give them a chance to escape.
Grow Too Much?
Some people use the excess as an excuse not to grow their own food. Here's the thing - if you grow more than you need, donate it. There are lots of ways you can donate fresh food - either direct to a food bank or a drop-off point at churches and supermarkets.
Make It Last
As our last tip, if you grow veggies, store your root vegetables in your fridge in glasses of water - they'll be less likely to turn. Root vegetables work in the same way as cut flowers - keep them in water, and they'll live longer. We got this fab tip from @aplhafoodie - give her a follow for more incredible food waste tips and marvellous recipes.