Eat your greens... after you've grown them

What could be better than eating fruit and vegetables grown in your own back garden? It's easy to recreate The Good Life at home, and you'll be joining a growing trend

Anyone who's anyone is growing their own fruit and veg these days. Two summers ago the press printed shots of Kate Moss driving back from the garden centre with Pete Doherty clutching an ornamental rose. It's a matter of time before Heat does this year's pictures of her, with Jamie Hince holding onto starter trays of baby leek plants and a couple of bags of onion sets.

Aside from wanting to keep up with trends, there are plenty of good reasons to grow your own. For some, it's about the cost-benefit analysis. Here's my mate Becky: "I worked out I was spending about £8 a week on bags of salad, lots of which went mushy in the bottom of the fridge – we never used a whole bag, and then if we ran out, someone had to drive to buy another. Now we grow salad in tubs outside the back door, and we don't cut it until we need it. You don't have to be a good gardener to do it – just sow and water. And, it tastes like the kind of fresh leaves you get at a French market, rather than from inside a plastic bag. Best of all, we are now only spending £1 a month. That's a saving of £350 a year."

For others, it's an excellent way of getting their kids to eat something green, like mum Katherine: "My daughter Esme wouldn't touch vegetables, and I just kept feeling like I was doing something wrong – especially as you're always hearing about how we ought to eat five helpings a day. Letting her look after the plants made a huge difference: now she really joins in on the eating as well as the growing."

So what are the secrets of growing your own? For Becky, the biggest hurdle was getting round to having a go. "I had to go and buy the tubs and compost, although you can order them to arrive by post too. And you need to check your plants and water them at least every couple of days. But it's one of those things – as soon as you try it, you feel really shocked that anyone's doing it any other way – because it's really easy and completely satisfying."

Beginner growers often worry that they aren't doing things quite right, so there's nothing more comforting than having an expert grower on hand to advise you. Find a willing grandma or uncle to help, or buy yourself the hard-earned wisdom of one of vegetable growing's honorary aunties: Joy Larkcom and her book Grow Your Own Vegetables is a national treasure (Frances Lincoln, £9.99). Or if you prefer your veg slightly more laid-back and hippyish, treat yourself to Carol Klein's Grow Your Own Veg from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at £16.99. Supplement all this with the 24-hour presence of fellow growers on the internet, where the best sites include the RHS and Gardeners' Worldas well as Grow your own magazine at http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/

The biggest problem you encounter will probably be molluscan: slugs and snails can wreak havoc in a single night. I'm assuming that one of the reasons you're growing your own is to avoid chemicals on your food, so let's rule out slug pellets. Growing in tubs, you can wind copper Slug Stoppa® Tape around their necks, which will completely prevent slimy enemies from getting in. You can also use this around the wooden edge of a raised bed, fixing with carpet tacks for extra longevity. Once you've established your cordon sanitaire, you could also consider treating the soil with nematodes, a biological control. But running out and stepping on the monsters will be the quickest way to control numbers.

Finally, be realistic about what you are capable of. If you are a constant gardener, you can feel confident about trying most things. But if you are a stop-and-start type, begin with a simple crop like potatoes, which requires a bit of fuss at planting and then can be left alone except for watering. My friend Alex has trouble getting himself to the allotment, but looks out of his garden office onto a beautiful old apple tree. Cider making has become a mainstay autumn activity in his house, with the kids running up the branches to pick and a beautiful old cider press in use. He offers me a glass to try: it's extraordinarily light, simple and fresh tasting. Maybe we really could get Kate Moss on this bandwagon.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little