Sustainable tips on planting your own veg

Get inspired during gardening week with Farmer Tom



It’s gardening week and the sun has been shining. It’s enough to make us want to get out into the garden and start growing things.

But where do we start and how do we make it fun? We asked Farmer Tom from the community based charity The Garden Army what his top gardening tips are and, of course, how to make sure we do it in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.?

Firstly, if you want to know what to grow at home, then check out our blog ‘What can you easily grow at home?’ where Farmer Tom tells us how to grow lettuces through to melons in the comfort of our own kitchens.

Top tips on growing your own at home

Here’s Farmer Tom with his top gardening tips:

1. Grow everything from seeds Farmer Tom explains that there is nothing more satisfying than growing your lunch from something as small as a speck of dust. It’s one of the most satisfying things you can do. And by not buying seedlings from a garden centre, you’re minimising the amount of process and people involved in growing. One less bit of stress on our environment.

2. Always start with good quality soil. If you aren’t planting in the garden, then you don’t need very much compost and so going for the best quality will give your little plants the best start in life. Farmer Tom recommends wool compost from Dalefoot. It is sustainably made too.

If you are planting in the garden, then the video below provides some tips on how to make sure your soil is full of nutrients and not chemicals.

3. Use your kitchen waste as rocket fuel If you have a compost area in your garden, then use it to add vital nutrients to your plants. At 100Green we invested in a Hotbin to help speed up the composting process - which you can find out more about in our ‘Eco Space’ blog here..

If you don’t have space outside, you can buy a mini one to sit in your kitchen.

4. Don’t give up! Even Farmer Tom’s veg sometimes die – but he tells us it’s all part of the process and the reward of growing your own fruit and veg is far greater than the loss. We love that outlook on life.

Weeding without chemicals

If you have a garden or even an allotment space, and you want to reclaim some of it to grow a veg patch or even just flowers, then you want to make sure that it is free of weeds and grass. But how do you do that over a large area without using weedkiller or breaking your back?

If you have a large area you want to rid of weeds and grass:

1. Dig out an old tarpaulin or pick one up for a few pounds from your local garden centre. They can be used over and over again.

2. Lay the tarpaulin over the area of weeds/grass and weigh it down with stones or bricks

3. Leave it alone!

4. Over the next few weeks, the vegetation under the tarpaulin will go yellow and die back into the ground, putting valuable nutrients back into the soil

5. When the vegetation has died and is rotting back into the ground, cover the area with compost.

6. Start planting!

If you have a smaller area you want get ready for planting or you don’t want to wait for several weeks:

1. Lay cardboard over the area you want to plant, covering the weeds.

2. Put a decent layer of compost over the cardboard

3. Start planting!

4. Eventually the cardboard and weeds will rot into the ground, leaving the nutrients from the vegetation to feed your new plants.

A bit about Farmer Tom and the Garden Army

The Garden Army is very simply a charity-run program for people who need space and support to deal with a wide range of mental and physical challenges. From children who have had a tough start in life, through to directors who might be suffering with burn-out; The Garden Army is a place for them to spend time learning about how things grow, how to harvest, how to build.

If you want to find out more, then you can watch our video with Tom here.