Living in London has a range of benefits, but space to grow your own plants is often not one of them.
With space at a premium, it can be a good idea to grow plants that perform more than one function, i.e. providing some colour to your home but also providing food you can eat! Here are five examples of plants that you can grow that also produce some great food:
This is a great one to start with as it encompasses lots of the great features and advantages of growing your own plants in London. Firstly, garlic is very easy to grow in a small space and maintaining the plant does not take much work, so it is an excellent option for people with a busy schedule. A small pot or medium sized can works well as a container.
Secondly, the range of food that garlic can be used in really is extensive. It’s also a food that has significant health benefits including acting as an anticoagulant along with being an excellent source of vitamin C, magnesium and allicin.
Along with being a tasty fruit, pears are another easy to grow option for anyone living in London or a home with little space. Special pear trees that have been grafted onto different roots so that the size of the tree can be controlled due to the size of the roots are a great option.
If space is at a premium, then make sure to choose one of these grafted pear trees, called a rootstock, as they can be kept in containers around 50cm in diameter. Harvesting pears at the right time is essential as they benefit from around a week’s storage before eating. Pick pears from the tree just before they’re fully ripened when their skin has a subtle colour change, and they’re firm and swollen.
This popular fruit has been incorporated into so many recopies that have become familiar to many and you may think it’s not possible to grow avocados indoors in a city like London, but it is! As with pears, it’s best to grow avocado trees from a rootstock, while you can grow a tree from directly planting a pit you’re unlikely to produce fruit this way.
Once you’ve purchased a dwarf tree that has been grafted onto a rootstock, it’s important to support it with a stake so that the trees’ stem grows straight and strong. Transplanting the tree once it outgrows its first pot is also essential, as is turning the tree so that sunlight can promote even growth. The tree will need moderate amounts of water, so the soil feels dry to the touch, and you can feed the tree with water-soluble food monthly. Once the fruit is ready to harvest you know those avocados are going to taste even better when you know you’ve grown them yourself.
If you’re lucky enough to have some outside space where you can plant a tree then an olive tree is a great option. These trees can be bought in pots and planted in whatever soil is naturally found in your garden. A sunny spot outdoors is essential and the trees will benefit from being next to a warm wall. While good drainage and regular watering are required, these are relatively low maintenance trees, which are incredibly drought-tolerant and can yield large amounts of produce.
Once you have your olives, you may think the range of options to use them up is limited to salads and bowls of nibbles at parties but the variety of dishes olives can be used in is extensive. Olives can be used in food from a range of cultures and are a very versatile fruit.
If space is ready an issue for you and you don’t have the floor space for a potted plant and no outdoor space, such as a garden, terrace or balcony, then a window box could well be the answer.
The range of options that you can grow in a window box is vast, but for this list, mint stood out. Mint can be used in sweet or savoury dishes as well as both hot and cold drinks, which makes it a herb that you’re going to get a lot of use out of.
Being able to survive in shady conditions is another benefit of mint, which if watered and picked regularly will provide a constant supply of leaves from April to November.
Overall the range of options that you can grow indoor, in window boxes and small outside space is actually much broader than you may think, so even those living in London can enjoy the benefits of home grown fruit and veg.