Over £500 grown – the breakdown

The target to grow £500 food this year on my small balcony and window sills (see Growing Diary) was beaten on 10 September. By 8 October, the total was up to £669 / 66 kg.

A more detailed breakdown will follow at the end of the year – but for now I thought you might like to see what crops have contributed most – see below:-

The top five most productive and valuable crops have been:-

£205 / 23kg – tomatoes – equivalent to 92 punnets of supermarket tomatoes – from 3 large containers on south window sills and 1.5 containers on balcony

£186 / 10 kg – salad – equivalent to 100 bags of supermarket salad –  from 6 medium containers and one very large container on balcony

£96 / 2.4kg – herbs (mixed) – equivalent to 120 supermarket packs of herbs –  from 3 medium containers on window sills and 2 on balcony

£42 / 6.4kg – runner beans -equivalent to 42 supermarket packs – from just 1 large container on balcony

£26 / 2.8kg – courgettes – from 1 large container on balcony (does not include the 3kg marrow from same plant!).

I’ve now increased the target to try and grow as much this year as on a London sized allotment!

9 comments… add one

  • Love what you’ve achieved.

    Just a quick note on french beans, I always grow climbing variety Blue Cobra, same height as runners but so many more for the ground space involved.

    Keep up the amazing great example

    Willow

    Reply
    • Thanks for the tip about Blue Cobra beans, Willow. I’ll keep an eye out for them and hope to find a space to try some. Do you know if ‘Cobra’ beans are the same thing or if it is specifically ‘Blue Cobra’ you are talking about.

      Reply
  • Hi

    Impressive.

    Can I recommend you think about a couple of other crops?

    French beans are a change from Runners. Some varietie hold a lot better than runners which tend to go to seed quite quickly. If you can get hold of BLue Coco (HSL) that stays juicy for about two weeks. You can save your own FB seed for ever once you have a single plant.

    Mangetout peas are very expensive, very easy to grow and crop over a long period. Until the last two winters I have started one batch in late August and got small crops until New Year. Try Golden Sweet which is very vigourous. You can also pick the tips as a salad veg.

    For over winter, start some Swiss Chard in the late summer. Almost impossible to buy as it needs eating shortly after harvest. Lucellus is the best, big plants, very tender and very hardy. It survives months at minus 11 and then comes back

    Reply
    • Many thanks for your ideas Helen. I need to send in my order to the Heritage Seed Librargy in the next few days so your message is good timing! I will see if I can get lucky with some Blue Coco (the same as Ryders Coco Bean, I guess?). I grew a few Cherokee Trail of Tears last year – they cropped well and were delicious (I actually prefer them to runners) although the runners (Wisley Magic) did give a higher yield for the space.

      I share your love of mange tout. I’ve found they are also great as an early crop, making a very welcome chage from salad and green leaves in June! But I haven’t yet found a variety I want to stick with. Last year I grew two varieties from Real Seeds – Golden Sweet cropped well but lacked flavour and the giant mange tout tasted great, looked amazing but the yield was only moderate. Any suggestions for other varieties to try?

      My Swiss Chard attempts this year have been badly hampered by pests – first the leaf minor and recently pigeons. Have just ordered some netting so hopefully the pigeon problem can be solved!

      Thanks againg for writing and for sharing your ideas. I am just learning about heritage varieties and it feels like I am embarking on a long and exciting journey!

      Mark

      Reply
  • Hello, Mark

    Yes, well, you know, I surprised myself, after succumbing to the seductive whispers of a fig plant in a commercial nursery, four years ago. I bought it thinking that it might well turn out to be a failed experiment.

    Well, it was anything *but* a failure. I have two varieties, now, a white, so-called Dalmatian fig and, since this past spring, a black fig, known as Négronne, an ancient species which was, not surprisingly, a favorite at Versailles. — The young plant produced a single fig, this autumn, and, upon eating it, the reasons for its popularity were confirmed!

    The Dalmatian plant, growing in a half wine barrel, has undergone 3 consecutive winter seasons during which there were lengthy, hard freezes, and it did just fine.

    Otherwise, I understand that Desert King, Latrulla, Brown Turkey, among others, do well as far North as Zone 7, though I haven’t personal experience with them.

    Figs are magical, strange and beautiful plants. Hardy, too.

    More on my experience with figs, soon.

    Reply
  • What a wonderful blog — A friend sent me here, knowing that I’d love it!

    How I share your pleasure in the challenge of growing food in small spaces! The possibilities are infinite. Working freelance, there’s nothing that helps me maintain creativity better than tending my 5m x 2m, sunny courtyard space.

    But my goal, as well, has been to demonstrate to neighbors just what can be done with next to nothing in an urban environment.

    I’ve had great success with figs, among other things, which is the crop that tends to elicit the most vocal oohs-and-ahs. ‘What? Figs in Paris?’. Mais, oui! And nothing is easier. Figs are virtually indestructible — unattractive to bugs, birds and cats, and require little upkeep. Besides, if you haven’t tasted a sugar-drenched fig, right off the branch, you haven’t lived : )

    Given a good, sunny space, and an appropriate fig variety [of which there are dozens], you might be pleasantly surprised.

    One wouldn’t think it, but grapes, also, do well in containers. I’m guilty of having contributed to the demise of a once productive, 5 year-old red grape vine, but now have a rosé variety, Chasselas, which is doing very well.

    It’d be difficult to express how important the spontaneous urban food-growing tendency is, for our collective sense of well-being as much as for the pleasure of landing fresh produce in our plates.

    There’s nothing like it.

    Cheers and bravo to the creator of this website.

    Reply
    • Great to hear from you Dana – and I LOVE your idea of growing figs. There’s a spot of concrete outside my front door that I think would be perfect – I just need to persuade my downstairs neighbour that it is a good idea! Are there any particular varieties you’d recommend for both yield and flavour? Also do you have a blog or similar – I’d love to see some images of your growing space.
      Mark

      Reply
  • That’s inspiring: I started growing stuff in used food buckets this year and managed a few lettuces and a big bunch of carrots. Having seen your pictures I can see a lot more places to grow things…

    Reply
    • Good to hear from you Andy – your food buckets sound like a great way to get started. Warning: once you start finding new places to add containers it can get addictive! It’s also a lot of fun, and I’m also thinking about where I can squeeze a few more in next year. Good luck with the next steps and do let us know how you get on.

      Reply

Leave a Comment