lifestyle

How to grow herbs and food from balconies and window boxes if you live in a city


Get creative with limited space (Picture: Gabby Woodward/Metro.co.uk)

The first lockdown gave people a taste for spending time outside and becoming more self-sufficient and, as a result, the demand for allotments is booming.

Of course, if you have a garden to play with, you can start your own allotment. But if you live in a built up city, like London, the chances are you won’t be blessed with a large outdoor area.

The good news is that even if you’re limited on square footage, there are still so many options for growing your own herbs and veggies.

Gabby Woodward, from the Instagram account @gabbygrows, has made it her mission to help city dwellers grow their own food.

The 23-year-old PR professional moved into her London flat just before the second lockdown and now runs her urban gardening Instagram page, where she shares a range of small-space gardening tips.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Growing your own food is so rewarding and freshly picked fruit and veg taste so much better than those bought at the supermarket. 

‘Lack of space should never be a barrier to reaping the rewards of homegrown food.

‘Like so many others in lockdown I got totally swept away by gardening, and as I started growing more and experimenting with different methods, it totally changed the way I see small spaces.’

Just scale things down (Picture: Gabby Woodward)

Don’t be put off growing your own if all you have is a windowsill or balcony at your disposal. There are a plethora of creative ways you can still have your own mini allotment.

Gabby adds: ‘Even if you just have a little pot or window box, there is a whole world of culinary delights that you can grow: from chillies to herbs, tumbling tomatoes to edible flowers, you can grow all sorts of things that will add whole new dimensions to your cooking.’

Venture vertically

‘In general, when planning a balcony or small space garden, if you can’t grow sideways you have to grow upwards,’ explains Gabby.

When we think of vegetable patches we tend to jump to large flowerbeds that border a lawn or enormous allotment spaces – but there are more ways of doing things.

Gabby adds: ‘I’m growing climbing plants, such as peas, which take up very little space and yet produce pods all summer long from just one plant.

‘There are other climbing edibles you can grow – such as runner beans, broad beans, cordon tomatoes, Malabar spinach, cucumber and “Tromboncino” courgettes.’

Turns pallets upright

Turn pallets upright (Picture: Gabby Woodward)

Once you’ve come around to the idea of a vertical garden, it’s time to stock up on the tools to make it possible.

Gabby is full of suggestions when it comes to this.

She adds: ‘Other vertical gardening tricks I’ve used include recycling an old pallet and turning it into an upright planter. 

‘At the moment it has dwarf spring bulbs in it, but by mid-summer it will be bursting to life with fresh strawberries ready to be picked. 

‘Once you get started you’ll be amazed how much can be grown in just a small space. I grow vast amounts of my own food in a London garden not much bigger than 6x6m. 

‘This summer I intend to cram in around 30 different types of herbs, fruit, and vegetables, as well as a whole host of flowers which can be cut and put straight into vases.’

Have a growing plan

All the components for a self-sufficient salad (Picture: Gabby Woodward)

Gabby’s also created a selection of ‘Gourmet Gardening’ growing plans with handy illustrations. She offers two different size boxes to choose from – depending on your space.

The aim of these is to highlight the different ways you can grow veggies, according to your needs.

So if you want fresh bits and bobs for salads there’s a plan with lettuce plants, spring onions, radishes and herbs, which you can start straight away and harvest in 12 week from now.

Every week Gabby releases a new theme – some of her previous ones include ingredients for pizza, BBQs and teas.

‘I’ve been amazed by the responses I’ve received to the plans; one of my followers has even started growing my plan for making your own herbal teas in an upcycled desk drawer. It just goes to show how easy it is to get growing,’ she adds.

These growing plans also make the most of every inch of space available, for a plentiful bounty.

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Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.


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