Chillies in a colander
Beautifully bright, homegrown chilli peppers add a delicious, fiery kick to your cooking and look great, too. Buy a chilli plant and pot it in an old colander in potting compost. The roots will grow through the holes to naturally air prune them. When they reach 30cm tall, pinch out the tops of the chilli peppers to encourage lots of branches (this will give you lots of chillies!). Continue to grow on a sunny windowsill or transfer outside to a warm, sunny spot. Water regularly and feed every couple of weeks with a high-potash tomato fertiliser once the first fruits have set.
Chives in a watering can
Old metal watering cans often have a set lifespan before cracking around the seams. When this happens, it’s the perfect opportunity to turn them into chive planters — or any other herb. Start by using a hammer and nail to add around five to seven drainage holes at the base of the can and fill it with a 50/50 mix of topsoil and compost. Then, buy a chive plant and place it just inside the can, allowing the shoots to grow out of it. Keep it well watered and enjoy fresh chives for years to come.
Potatoes in a bucket
Home-grown potatoes are simply delicious! If you have a bucket with at least a 20 litre-capacity then you can grow your own spuds. Half fill the bucket with a mix of topsoil and compost and plant one or two seed potatoes. For 30 litre buckets plant two to three. Cover the potatoes with topsoil/compost mix to the top of the bucket and give it a good water. Keep watered and in ten weeks’ time, turn the bucket upside down and pick out some tasty new potatoes!
Salads in a pot
For the price of a bag of lettuce, you could buy enough lettuce seeds to keep a family of four in salad for most of the year! The trick is to sow a new batch of lettuce every two to three weeks, so if one batch goes to seed you have fresher ones still producing crops. Short but wide pots are best as lettuce doesn’t have deep roots. Fill the pots with multipurpose compost and lightly sprinkle lettuce seeds over the surface. Finish off with a centimetre of compost, water well and place on a sunny windowsill. Start harvesting the outer leaves in six to eight weeks. Harvest little, but often.
Tower of strawberries
For small spaces, a strawberry tower is the best way to ensure maximum harvests because it makes the most of vertical space. You can buy ready-made strawberry towers and follow the instructions. A variety that I recommend is Cambridge Favourite, for its excellent taste and performance.
Pot a blueberry bush
Blueberries are expensive in shops, but a blueberry bush will give you fresh crops for years. They like acidic soil, so you will need to get a bag of ericaceous compost to ensure the plant feels at home. Large pots are perfect for blueberries and you can mix in 50 per cent topsoil with the compost. Transplant a blueberry plant into the pot during late autumn to winter for the best success, and when it comes to fruiting time you may need to net the plants to stop the birds getting to them before you do!
Dwarf peas in containers
The fantastic thing about growing peas is that you can also enjoy pea shoots as an additional harvest, weeks before the pods! This also encourages the plants to bush out and send out more shoots. My favourite dwarfing pea variety is Meteor. All you need is a medium-to-large container filled with multipurpose compost. Place a cloche or cage over the pot to protect the peas and young shoots from pests, then remove once the plants are 10cm tall. Begin harvesting pea shoots five weeks after sowing and continue to harvest the shoots for a few weeks leaving them to flower and, as a result, produce pea pods.
Tomatoes in growbags
The sweetness of a freshly picked tomato is incomparable to a shop-bought one. Choose a sheltered or sunny spot and opt for cherry varieties that tend to mature the fastest. Buy tomato plants then transplant into growbags.
Herbs in a window box
If you enjoy cooking or fresh herbal teas, then growing a selection of perennial herbs on your windowsill will be right up your street. Mint, marjoram, lavender, lemon verbena, thyme and sage are all wonderful options if you’re just starting out. For a large window box, plant three to four herbs and allow space between for them to grow. Potting compost is best, and water during dry spells. You can top up compost every spring or use a liquid feed from the second year onwards to keep them thriving.
■ Huw Richards and Dobbies are helping the nation grow food inexpensively. To explore the weekly Grow How Clubs, visit dobbies.com For more growing tips, go to youtube.com/huwsnursery