You don’t need a large space to grow your own food. Even if you only have a windowsill or balcony or pot, you can still grow some fresh veggies (or even fruits with mini-trees). You may not be able to go totally self-sufficient, but enjoying fresh strawberries in a bowl from the garden, or your own runner beans, helps to change the system. Just imagine if everyone tomorrow decided to grow own carrots (pretty easy if you have some soil). Overnight, the plastic-wrapped imported carrots would have no customers. Supermarkets won’t change, so we have to make change for them. Also see how to grow your own herbs (which includes details of herbs that are toxic to pets).
Many plants and trees (along with all fruit pips and seeds) are toxic to pets. See how to make your garden safe for pets to know what to avoid. Also avoid cocoa mulch, pine mulch or fresh compost (contains mould) near pets. Avoid digging where possible, to keep earthworms safe. There’s no need to harm any creature, if you grow food. See safe humane solutions for slugs and snails.
Tomatoes are toxic to pets (especially the green tomato leaves) as are green/unripe potatoes and many flowers (including all bulbs). Also toxic is cocoa and pine mulch and fresh compost (contains mould).
Books to Grow Your Own Food
- Charles Dowding Vegetable Diary is a beautiful colour journal to inform and inspire, by Britain’s most trusted no-dig gardener. Use this yearly with Charles’ notes to feed soil, sow and harvest, and store vegetables. Includes best sowing dates for fewer weeds, and feed soil just once a year. Grow two crops beds a year, without weeds.
- Veg in One Bed has clear steps from Huw Richards to grow all your own veggies in one bed. Grow from seed and get early success by starting young plants on the windowsill. Includes veggies to swap out and no-dig gardening methods.
- The Super Organic Gardener is a beautiful book on veganic gardening, which goes beyond organic gardening to grow food without the use of fish meal or bone meal (both of which are toxic to pets, and attract vermin). Learn how to make your own fertilisers and compost, and share your plot with wildlife.
- The Vegan Cook & Gardener uses permaculture methods to lower your carbon footprint and use plant materials to grow food with zero miles and avoid chemicals. Learn about self-sufficiency, year-round tecnniques and includes seasonal recipes for fruits, veggies, herbs, salads and sprouts, plus tips on challenging crops.
- No-Till Intensive Vegetable Culture is a book by veteran organic grower Bryan O’Hara, who shows how to grow high quality high-yield vegetables using his popular no-till method. He perfected the technique on his own Connecticut vegetable farm (similar weather to England). His healthy resilient plants are testament to the value of allowing the biological functions of soil to do their work. In this book, he shows how with minimal investment and only a few acres of land, he produces a healthy profitable business using natural compost and innovative storage and harvesting techniques.
- Your Edible Yard is a journey into the good food movement with dozens of beautiful colour photos and watercolour planting charts, to turn your yard into a bountiful feast. Includes tips for weeding and wintering and container gardening and saving seeds. Learn how to build soil and grow in raised beds and avoid pesticides, and learn how to preserve, ferment and freeze or dry your produce.
- Gardening with Emma is a kid-to-kid guide to growing health food. Emma’s dad is an expert organic gardener and taught her well. She teaches you about soil, sowing and caring for a garden through the seasons, along with making play spaces among the plants.
- The Food Forest Handbook shows you how to grow your own food in a mini-forest. After good soil, planting, mulching and pruning, you can just leave it to grow food for you: fruit and nut trees, shrubs, vines, perennial herbs and vegetables, all while creating biodiversity and feeding local wildlife.
- Grow Food for Free is the ultimate book to growing your own organic fruits and vegetables for a year, and it won’t cost you a penny. Young Welsh farmer Huw Richards set himself the same challenge and now can teach you how to become self-sufficient too: use old wooden pallets for raised beds (check they are free from toxic paint and nails), look in the fridge & cupboards for foods to plant, barter or borrow tools from neighbours and borrow garden land, sharing the harvest.
Growing Food in Small Spaces
- Veg in One Bed is a super book by young Welsh gardener Huw Gardener. He can show you how to grow all your own food, in just one raised bed, no digging required (which also protects earthworms). By using a store-bought raised bed or a homemade one (or use old wooden pallets if they are free from toxic paints and nails), you can grow your own food, using the tips in this beautifully illustrated book. You can start young plants off on a windowsill, and use methods that remove the back-breaking work of digging, and find alternative veggies to swap, depending on what you like eating.
- Kitchen Garden Revival is a book to take your backyard veggie patch into a work of art. From design to harvesting, Nicole Burke of landscape company Rooted Garden and Gardenary (an online kitchen garden education company) shows how to reduce your food miles and grow food for the family table. Make easy-to-maintain raised beds laid out in a geometric plan and find seasonal growing guides.
- Growing Good Food is a book by regenerative farmer Acadia Tucker, who shows how to build carbon-rich soil, to help reduce climate change, by capturing greenhouses gases. She offers draft plans for gardeners who have no or little space, with tips to prep soil, plant food and raise the most popular fruits and vegetables.
- Grow Bag Gardening is a unique book on how to grow oodles of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, with no heavy lifting or digging required. Just use these eco-friendly fabric planter bags, to grow plants with minimal space and care. Grow bags are perfect for urban gardeners, you can even grow food on rooftop gardens, balconies or patios. They fold flat for easy storage and are frost-proof, so no lugging heavy pots indoors for winter.
Books to Grow Food in Pots & Containers
ECOPOTS makes beautiful pots (designed by an architect) that are made from 80% recycled plastic bottles and 20% crushed recycled natural stone. In beautiful designs (depending on how you are using them – includes options for tiny spaces and hanging baskets), these have all kinds of features. Or to get more creative, just use some upcycled items from the home or at the junk yard. You could use colanders, kitchen sinks, old teapots, muffins tins, a broken bicycle or vintage typewriter.
- Patio Produce shows how to cultivate home-grown veggies in the smallest space. Plan for a reasonable yield and never run out of something good to eat. Whether you have a balcony or a high rise, roof garden or patio, you can now make amazing meals.
- Modern Container Gardening is ideal if you would like to grow food on a roof terrace, a tiny balcony or on a windowsill. Isabelle Palmer shows how easy it is to get started, even if you have little space. Includes how to make a garden in a day, weekend projects, one-pot wonders and window boxes.
- Grow Your Own Vegetables in Pots & Containers includes tips to grow food in tiny spaces. Alongside using upcycled pots and containers, like used milk bottles and kitchen sinks.
- Patio Pots is packed with nifty tips and advice for gardening in containers, from fruits and vegetables to stunning floral displays. Find the best pot for the job, learn how to position them to harness the sun’s rays or provide shade, and work with colour and height and successful drainage, feeding and watering. Beautifully illustrated.
The Zero Waste Garden is the ultimate gardening guide to share over 60 unique planning-for-yield guides for key crops, to help you grow for minimum waste and maximum taste. You’ll learn how to make the most of the green space you have, what to grow on it and how much you can harvest each season.
If you garden with or near furry friends, see make your garden safe for pets to know toxic plants, flowers & trees to avoid. Also avoid cocoa mulch, pine mulch and fresh compost near pets. Use safe humane slug/snail deterrents and use no-dig gardening methods, to protect earthworms, stag beetles & other garden creatures.
Learn about the roots of organic gardening and unearth how to plant waste-free on any size plot – from balcony contains to 5 metre square yards. Peppered with root-to-stalk cooking techniques (and edible tips on what crops you can grow immediately), this plot-to-plate book is for everyone who would like to grow at least some of what they eat. The book is perfect for new and experienced growers, vegans & zero-wasters, city gardeners and the ecologically-minded.
About the Author
Ben Raskin is Head of Horticulture & Agroforestry at the Soil Association, where he supports a network of growers to promote organic gardening principles and techniques. With over 25 years experience, He is on the board of the Community Supported Agriculture Network.