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Want to help combat the rising price of food? Grow your own vegetables



Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report that said all aspects of food security were at risk of being affected by global warming.

Other studies have concluded that people can help matters simply by eating more vegetables and less cheese and meat. Growing your own vegetables might therefore help the environment, but can it save you money?

We know that 250g of tomatoes can cost around £1.50 in the supermarket, while a small packet of seeds can be purchased for as little as £1.30. What’s important, however, is that a single tomato plant, grown under the right conditions, can produce up to 3kg of fruit per season – and there are a few other plants out there that can help make a saving.

So in collaboration with Hartley Botanic, supplier of bespoke greenhouses, here are some simple tips on how to grow your own food and save money.


A plant that is best sowed in early spring within a heated greenhouse, cucumber seeds can be placed in a small pot with seed compost. By placing two seeds on their side into a small hole, you can expect roughly 30-40 fruits per plant, with an estimated cost of 5p per cucumber produced.

The seeds should germinate within one week and when they are roughly 2cm in length. At this point, feel free to remove the weakest plants from the pot, though remember to keep the plants moist and use a stake of garden cane to provide support for the growing plant.

Baby carrots

Baby carrots are one of the best loved vegetables on the dinner table and are relatively easy to grow.  It is important to know, however, that you will need large containers, as their roots can grow in lengths of up to a foot beneath the surface. If you grow the carrot variety known as Early Nantes, their roots are far shorter and may be more convenient.

Again, pop in two seeds per hole and ensure well drained soil. It should take the seeds around two weeks to germinate. After around two months, you should have a large pot of healthy, green foliage, which can be harvested after a further two weeks. Just one £1.50 packet of seeds can save you roughly £3 a kg.


Growing lettuces in full sun is key to successful and healthy growing. Spring and early summer growing is important to beat the frost and cold weather. There are three differing types of hearting lettuces, which are:

– Butterhead lettuces
– Cos types
– Crisphead types

If you want continuity, and a nice supply of lettuce, sow yourself a short row every fortnight and ensure to do so in evening, with water. When harvesting, remember to cut when a heart is formed.


Seeds can be grown in pots from March through to the end of May and require sunny, fertile and moist soil. Unlike cucumbers, ensure that you sow seeds vertically and deeply. Once that the roots begin to show through the bottom of the pot, plant them into growing bags in late spring.

Give your courgettes plenty of water, more so when the plants are in flower, and harvest them when they are roughly 10cm in length. Use a sharp knife to sever the fruit and eat them fresh; saving around 38p per courgette.

Sweet peppers

Quite possibly the most popular growing vegetable of recent years, the plants can be grown indoors right up until April. Keep the temperature at around 18-21C to ensure healthy plants.

Once true leaves have formed, transfer the plants into 9cm pots and then into 30cm pots once that the roots fill the smaller ones. You may need to stake and tie the plants if they begin producing heavy fruit. Once done, you can pick the plants once the peppers are green, swollen and glossy.

Anna Watsham is writing on behalf of Hartley Botanic, one of the UK’s premier greenhouse manufacturers and retailers.

Photo: Stephanie Berghaeuser via freeimages

Further reading:

Growing Underground: London’s secret garden

How fruit and veg auctions are putting ‘real food’ on tables every day

Up to 40% of food wasted because of ‘ugliness’

Consumers have ‘immense power’ to make food sustainable

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013