Growing Diary 2010

Can you grow as much on a balcony and window sills as on a London allotment? On 1 May 2010 I started weighing the harvests from my London flat to try and find out!

According to the National Society of Leisure and Allotment Gardeners, a 300 square yard allotment produces £1564 a year. As most London allotments are half this size, I set the target at half this: £782.

After twelve months, the total value grown was £899.99 ($1,480), weighing 83.66 Kg

Click on the months below to see photos and details of the harvests, the successes and the challenges!

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011











Each week, I estimated the value of the food based on Ocado prices, I explain how I calculate this here.

29 thoughts on “Growing Diary 2010”

  1. Pingback: 10 Good Reasons to Cultivate the Space You Have | The Forget-me-Not Cultivation Blog

  2. Pingback: How much can you grow on a balcony? » Vertical Veg

  3. Hi Mark,
    Any reason for April being missed out in the growing diary? The delights in the ‘gazebo’ garden here have been french sorrel, parsley and nearby lovage. All perennials (though not sure if the parsley was through self-seeding)and great staples for easy to make soups. And looking forward to my first crop of rocket this weekend. It’d be lovely to get further inspirations for the fairly early season outdoors. Nicole

    1. HI Nicole, no reason – just time or lack of it. Hope to get something up for April this weekend and to find more time again for this website in the coming weeks. Thanks for the prompt! Mark

  4. Pingback: Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » How to Save Hundreds of Pounds Growing Veg on a Balcony

  5. Hi Mark, inspiring stuff, thanks. Just wanted to second Colin’s recommendation about using Bokashi composting. We find it really easy and effective, but I hardly ever find it mentioned by gardening mags or blogs. By the way, found your site via your article in Grow Your Own magazine.

    1. Thanks for your comments – I’m definitely going to try Bokashi as well this year, and will blog about it once I’ve got it up and going. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Very well done Mark, most impressive. You might be interested in the Permaculture Association. Please see their uk website c/o Google

  7. It’s a small world – and it’s a great world!
    Wow – how inspiring!
    Will most definitely come and pinch some of your ideas sometime for my ‘gazebo garden’ …..

  8. Way to go Mark. jumped on site when heard about it on BBC local TV news – hope you are ready for the flood of interest!

    As you are in an urban setting what specific measures do you need to make to keep the ‘pests’ at bay – foxes, cats, birds, etc.

    best wishes


    1. Hi Pat – yes pests can be a bit of a challenge, even here in central(ish) London.

      Slugs are the most challenging. I protect the young seedlings with cloches made out of old plastic bottles, and occasionally go round in the evening with a bike light to hunt them out!

      The squirrels aren’t too bad but they’ve recently dug up some pea and broad bean seeds… I’ve just learnt that if you soak the seeds in water with garlic that can deter them. I must try that.

      A pigeon has also started to nibble at the black cabbage. I haven’t found a solution for this yet… Any suggestions?

      And a fox did raid the wormery last winter – not sure if it was for the food or to catch the mouse that lives inside!

  9. Pingback: Mark Risdill Smith’s Vertical Veg Triumph | Islington Master Gardeners

  10. Bokashi is worth it’s weight in gold! for just a small outlay in both time and money this system is a must.
    As soon as it’s up and running it will produce a sweet compost that has the smell of cider or wine.
    Once the bin is full* I decant into a lidded bucket and this is used as food for my worm farms.. You can use it in planter boxes or pots by placing it directly into the container for further fermentation. .. but I never have enough for this.
    With the Bokashi bin each day you will get a small amount of juice this makes beaut fertilizer but it must be diluted first minimum dilution is 1:100
    * best after a few weeks the further fermentation works wonders

    1. Thanks Colin. I’m currently using a wormery as my main source of fertiliser. Also vg for a small space. Have you tried Bokashi – can you recommend it?

      I like the way the guttering is used in your link. I’ve never seen it done as well as that before. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Mark I’m not sure if you can get Warrigal greens ( New Zealand spinnach,) in the UK’s one of those plants that will just keep on growing.. native bush tucker Captain Cook even encouraged his men to eat it. One word of warning contain toxic oxates, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities but can be removed if blanched then rinse the leaves in cold water before using them in salads or for cooking.I grown just a couple of plants and a bunch of leaves is a good stand by..

  12. Mark this is truly fantastic from such a small space .. keep up the good work.

    Colin .. I’m down south.. Albany Western Australia

  13. What a great idea! Here’s something else you might want to look at:

    I was talking with someone a few years ago whose brother grew a vertical garden using 40x48x5″ shipping pallets. He turned each upside down, then lined the inside of the top, sides, and one end with strong landscaping fabric. He then fastened them bottom-to-bottom with triangles of plywood (for stability), and filled them with soil. He then poked holes in the fabric in between the slats and inserted the seedlings. For watering, he used a soaker hose running along the top. He was able to grow a lot of veggies in a very small area, with almost no upkeep. (You could get a ton of potatoes by starting them in just a little soil, then adding more week-by-week.)

    1. Thanks Deadly Dad – that’s a really interesting and creative way to make good use of used pallets. I like it! I’ll be building more gardens in coming months and will definitely look into this. Thanks very much for sharing.

  14. Pingback: Over £500 grown – the breakdown » Vertical Veg

  15. Love this site – it is so practical and inspirational. I am a long term member of Gardening Organic – where I got the web site address. I’d like to put you as a link in my own web site – hope that is OK.

    I think your subscribe – RSS feed option is faulty – get someone to try and it and you’ll see. You get a lot of gobbldeygook text when you try

    keep inspiring us and enjoy the harvest

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Stewart – and, yes please, be great to have a link on your site. I’ll have a look into the RSS feed – sorry about that. I’m not very technical myself but will try to get this sorted ASAP.

      Do keep in touch.


  16. Pingback: Balcony veg: can it save you money? » Vertical Veg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe for my monthly container growing tips
and newsletter

Join our 6,000+ Subscribers List Today!

Scroll to Top