Last summer there was a spate of food blog posts about eating food you had grown. The beautiful photos of produce and salads made with home grown vegetables, hit something that I never knew I had. The urge to grow things, to eat local produce, to get back to nature. I was shocked at my reaction a little bit, and more than a little jealous of those who could. The best I could hope for was my occasional attempts at a windowsill garden.

My basil, tomato and strawberry seeds

Of course the problem is, by the time you see the photos and read the posts, it’s too late. It’s unlike almost anything else in the food blog world – you can’t just go and make it yourself tomorrow. (I guess the closest thing is Mincemeat the week before Christmas). Growing food doesn’t happen overnight and if you want to have your own tomatoes during the summer you need to think about planting them in March or April.

So I planted mine in February, I know it’s a tad early but I really wanted to make sure at some point this year I can have one of those posts. And now I am giving you fair warning, at some point this summer I am going to make a wonderful tomato salad with basil from my very own garden – you may be jealous, so start planting now!

Seeds in a propagator

Because I have never really grown anything longer term than a salad leave or cress, I wanted to start early and small. If it all goes wrong with my first attempt I still have a fair amount of time to start again.

So far I am growing three plants from seed. These are:
Seed Packets

  • Tomato – F1 Sweet ‘n’ Neat Yellow, from Suttons
  • Alpine Strawberry, from B&Q’s Grow Your Own
  • Sweet Basil, from Organic Living by B&Q

I wanted to go varieties slightly different from the vegetables I could buy in the shops. Since I don’t see myself being self-sufficient in the garden any time soon, it seems the best plan to grow things I can’t buy. So the tomatoes are of small yellow variety, and the strawberries are also a smaller alpine variety.

While sweet basil is by no stretch of the imagination hard to come by, fresh herbs are expensive. You can either buy one of those plants which die off super quickly – or you buy the pre-cut stuff, which I always tend to find in the bottom of my fridge after it’s way past its best. Growing my own means I can just cut some when I need it, and it will always be fresh.

While it still early days for my vegetable patch (i.e. I have yet to dig out any space for it) I have the seeds growing in some tiny pots in a non-heated seed propagator and they are starting to do quite well.

I took photos on Monday the 7th of March they looked like this:

Basil, Tomato and Strawberry seeds
From L to R: Basil, Tomato, Alpine Strawberries.

I then took photos again this afternoon (Saturday the 12th of March) and look how much they have grown! My strawberry seeds are starting to germinate now.

My basil, tomato and strawberry seeds
From L to R: Basil, Tomato, Alpine Strawberries.

What are you growing this year? What worked last year? Any suggestions / helpful hints and links for a beginner such as myself? I’d love to hear from you.