Grow your own way and reap the benefits
You can grow your own way and reap all sorts of benefits, writes Breeshey Kermode, Project Assistant with UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man:
Growing your own food in a sustainable way is a massively self-rewarding experience for so many reasons.
Getting your fingers green boosts endorphins and aids wellbeing, as the mycobacterium (vaccae) found in soil increases serotonin in the brain, leading to feelings of happiness. So planting is the perfect pastime for the mind and soul, your pocket and the planet.
There are a lot of misconceived views around growing. You need a garden, you need lots of spare time, it is expensive - none of these things need to be true unless you allow them to be.
All you need is a small space (indoors or outdoors), choice of seeds, containers, growing matter…and a sprinkle of ‘grow-tivation’.
The more you plan your garden, or windowsill, the more success you will have. Planning what, where and when you grow means you can schedule your crops to make sure you have something to enjoy all year round.
Try not to get too ambitious early on, as like anything in life, your sustainable garden will grow with you as you continue to learn about and love your plants.
My garden rule is that nothing needs to be bought, though when you are starting out you may need to buy seeds. I harvest my own by sacrificing a plant or two from each crop, so the garden looks after itself year after year. For new seeds, the Island hosts fantastic seed swap events so it is not at all necessary to buy.
It can become a very expensive and wasteful hobby if you are buying everything new - you will always be able to find something to reuse that will serve your purpose.
I often find stacks of plant pots and containers of all shapes and sizes at the island’s amenity sites and the charity shops stock affordable and individual potential planters. I start many vegetables indoors to protect them from cold spells and to achieve a year-round harvest. Egg cartons are perfect for germination, and can be thrown on the compost pile after use.
Household items you can use over and over to start your crops include tins, jars, yoghurt pots, plastic bottles with the neck cut off. An empty tea light candle will take a seedling.
I also keep hold of excess plastic packaging that can’t be recycled: the perfect liner for a raised bed or window box.
My beds are made from used wooden pallets which can be knocked up into any size or depth, and are portable. You can find other, second-hand, larger containers to use for veg: buckets, tubs, bags, crates, bins.
My grandad grew rhubarb in a tin bath.