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As it happens our resident professor of water-y education, Sharna, is also a keen allotmenter.

Grow your own - Sharna's allotment

It’s a joy going to the allotments on a weekend and see it brimming with young budding allotmenters growing their own.

Learning how plants work is a huge part of the national curriculum. We also know that children learn well by doing, not only does it make it fun and exciting, it will also give you some sustainable and free veg – yum yum!

Here’s how to do it for not even a penny! –

Free pots!

Grow in a grape container
Sharna’s grape containers for her Dhalias

Anything can be a pot if you put your mind to it! Here’s some examples

  • Empty loo rolls – these give plenty of room for plant roots and can be planted straight in the ground without removing the carboard – winner!
  • Grape and fruit containers – they’ve already got holes in and are fairly deep – what a win!
  • Yogurt pots – just give ‘em a quick swirl and carefully put some holes in the bottom of the pot for drainage

Free compost!

Making homemade compost is easy but does take a few months. Simply put your food waste into a container (no smelly things like onions and garlic, no orange peel as this can be too acidic, and no meat). Dig a big hole in the garden. We’re making a yummy compost lasanya!

Pop in a layer of your food waste, and then pop a layer of well ripped up carboard on top, any fallen leaves from trees you can find and if you have it, some wood chip or sawdust. Repeat the process until full and cover back over in the soil. Dig it up 6 or so months later and you’ll have free compost!

Grow your own… free tomatoes

Grow your own free tomatoes

Save one of your old tomatoes, before you throw it out, pick out those little seeds in the middle and gently pat the jelly like stuff off with a paper towel.

Plant in March or April. Grab some soil from the garden (ideally your homemade compost but general soil should be okay) and put in a container. Only sow one seed in yogurt pots or loo rolls, but if you use grape containers sow them a few cm from each other. Pop on the window and plant out once they’re 10 or so cm tall.

You can do this with lots of veg – e.g., peppers, just make sure you get the right time of year!

Grow your own… free blackberries


You’ll need to get out and about and find a wild blackberry bush! Once you’ve found one using the sharpest tool you have, cut about 6 inches off the stem. Put it in some moist compost in a couple inches deep and it should root in 4 weeks!

Grow your own… free celery


Simply cut off the root end and pop it a glass water – it should root again and start to grow from the top! You can do this with lots of things, like Romanian lettuce.

Grow your own… free spuds


Pop a potato in a brightly lit spot so that it chits (get’s little stems all over it) bury it in the ground and mark where it is – you can even do this in a bucket with a bottom out to contain all the potatoes! Plant end of March time and you should get lots of new spuds about 3 months later.

Grow your own… free garlic

Pick off some of the bigger cloves and plant them about 1cm under the soil. Ideally you should do this November time as the coldness of December and January causes the cloves to split into lots of garlics!

Grow your own… free strawberries

Wait for a strawberry to age past it’s peak so it’s little seeds are easy to pull off with e.g., a pencil head. Dry them out and sow them thinly. Ideally plant them in February time so they’ve time to grow! The annoying thing is they won’t fruit well until the second year. They’ll also make ‘runners’ with extra free plants – woohoo!

Last but not least… Free water!!

The majority of household water use is used in the garden. That’s why it’s a great idea to be environmentally friendly and get a water butt. You can even make your own for free! Find out how here

Go on – grow your own! If you’re crafty you can do it for free and learn lots with your kids along the way.

The learning blog