This summer I discovered my green fingers. I’ve always loved the idea of growing my own, but other than a few potted herbs on the kitchen windowsill, I never really had the time or the patience to dedicate to my own vegetable patch. So it was one of the things on my ‘maternity bucket list’ – I wanted to use the time spent at home to do all of those things that I never got the chance to do, you know with all of that free time I was going to have (yeah, right!).
Okay, so I didn’t have as much time as I naively thought I would with a feisty baby and then a demanding toddler in tow, but growing my own has definitely been one of my greatest achievements since leaving full-time employment (alongside giving birth, keeping a small human alive and creating an award-winning blog of course!)
It has taken a lot of love and dedication, but those little saplings we planted in the garden back in May have now grown into fully fledged tomato plants and have given us more tomatoes than I know what to do with! In that post I also mentioned that I had just started to sow some chili seeds, which also paid off and we have an abundance of chilies sprouting each week – perfect for all of those recipes with chili that I love. So I thought it might be helpful to share my experience if you’re also thinking of growing your own and you’re a complete amateur as I was and haven’t got a clue where to start!
Sowing the seeds
I purchased the tomato seeds back in March and sowed them in the mini fibre pots initially (one seed per pot). Once they sprouted (about 10 days later), I transferred them to slightly larger plastic pots. It’s worth noting that I sowed some directly into the plastic pots and didn’t have as good results, so I would definitely recommend the fibre pots initially – I had 16 saplings from 16 seeds, which was a pretty good outcome! I placed them on the windowsill for about a month, watering them every day, until they grew to about eight inches in height. The process was exactly the same for the chili plants.
Transferring the tomato plants into the garden
Once they started to take over my kitchen window, it was time to get them planted them in the garden. I planted them in May just as the weather started to warm up. You can read about how I created the vegetable patch here, but it was basically super easy and just required a lot of compost and some stakes…I also got the toddler to help out so kept her occupied for a whole afternoon – bonus!
I read that I needed to cut off any offshoots, which I’ve done all summer on a weekly basis. After the plants start to flower it becomes pretty obvious which shoots aren’t going to sprout. They grow back pretty rapidly, so this does take quite a bit of time (I’m taking about 100+ off shoots per week on 16 plants!). But to be honest, I found it quite therapeutic and it gave me something to do on all of those summer days when Taylor was out playing in the garden. Other than that I just made sure I watered them daily (if it didn’t rain) and added tomato feed once a week, along with some slug pellets – these are so necessary when growing your own!
The plants flowered about one month after planting them in the garden and then the tomatoes took another month after that to grow. the plants have really come into their own this month (September) and we are picking tomatoes every day. It’s important to pick them once they’re ripe as I find that they start to split otherwise.
The chili plants are far less maintenance and literally just require regular watering and a feed once a week – no pruning. I still don’t have any red or yellow chilies (which is what the seeds were for), but the green ones suit us fine.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely! It’s true what they say about gardening being good for your health – I found it a great distraction from the computer (the blog) during Taylor’s nap times and it also provides the perfect excuse to get outside. It’s also of course really fulfilling growing something from scratch and I found that those hours spent outside gave me time to reflect and be a little mindful. Aside from that, it’s saved us money on all of those packets of cherry tomotoes and chilies which I would usually get on our weekly food shop.
But above all, it has provided us with priceless moments like these…
Did you grow your own this summer? Would you consider growing your own? Also, I’d love to hear any tomato recipes that you recommend!!