My Growing

Picking salad on balcony © Sarah Cuttle/Vertical Veg 2010

Frustrated at not being able to get an allotment in London, UK, I started growing in containers at home on my balcony and window sills in 2008. When we moved to Newcastle in 2013 I grew in two rented backyards (learning about rental challenges on the way), and now in the concrete front yard of our current home.

I’m interested in how growing at home in containers transforms a space and changes attitudes to food and life in the city.

How much food can you grow without a garden?

I’m also in interested in how much food can actually be grown in a small space in containers. To highlight what’s possible, I weighed and calculated the value of the harvests from my London balcony and window sills and my Newcastle backyard. Check them out!

The Vertical Veg Community

My growing is indebted to the Vertical community of container growers from around the world who generously share ideas and experience in our online community, and seeds in our annual seed swap. Growing in a small space puts limitations on the number of different plants and tests you can do – so being able to learn from others is particularly valuable – and makes growing that much more fun and rewarding, too.

Professional Growers

I’m also indebted to the many professional growers who have so generously shared their lifelong learning to help me and the Vertical Veg Community learn more deeply about growing. It’s been amazing to apply this knowledge to growing in containers in the city! There are too many to mention all, but I would particularly like to thank Lorraine Melton at Herbal Haven, Peter Brinch at Open Pollinated Seeds, Anton Rosenfeld and Sally Cunningham at Garden Organic, Mark Diacono at Otter Farm, Ben Raskin at the Soil Association, Tom Moggach at City Leaf, Steve Waters at South Devon Chilli Farm, and Charles Dowding at Charles Dowding.

Allotment at last

Since moving to Newcastle, I’ve finally got an allotment. Growing in the ground has taught me more about growing in containers than I expected. I also much enjoy escaping to the allotment occasionally. However, my spiritual home – and most of my growing – is still done at home in containers. I love having plants on the doorstep and being able to pop out and pick something for supper whenever I want.

9 thoughts on “My Growing”

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  7. Hi Mark,

    Your garden is fantastic and your achievements commendable. I have tried to develop something similar this year with comparable space restrictions. I see this approach as the way for many people to overcome the economical problems currently affecting the UK. I’m creating a social enterprise to bring this concept to the wider society and get as many people as possible growing. I would really like to hear your thoughts and to get some ideas as to how you feel this might work best.

    You have my email address so please don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more,

    Regards,
    Matt

  8. Hello Mark. I love your garden. I’m from Florida, and I have a north facing balcony. What are you growing on your north facing window sills? Thanks for the input.

    1. Hi Lorena
      Nice to hear from you in Florida. I generally find that leafy veg and herbs grows OK on the north facing window sills – at the moment i have chives, mint, parsley and lovage and some alpine strawberries that will also fruit Ok with just a few hours of sun each day. all these were growing pretty slowly early in the year but have perked up now that we have longer, warmer days.
      Happy growing
      Mark

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