Soil or Water, Inside or Outside?
Growing your own ingredients is easy, enjoyable and will save you money.
And will have 2 key advantages:
- You can grow ingredients not easily available in shops
- Provide you with fresh ingredients throughout the year.
If you are really into your food then growing your own ingredients is for you.
Not only will you be able to cook authentic recipes, using fresh ingredients that taste fantastic. But you will also be able to use ingredients throughout the year – and not rely on ingredients shipped from a long way away (with a horrible carbon footprint)
The key is to focus on 4 key items:
Item 1 – Decide if you want to grow ingredients inside or outside
This is a key decision to make.
Yes. if you have the space (such as a garden, balcony or allotment) then growing ingredients outside can be cheap & easy. And will provide you with ingredients linked to the seasons (mostly harvesting in spring or summer)
But growing indoors (or in a greenhouse) has many advantages (see below).
1a. If you want to grow outside.
- What you would like to grow (follow the links on our site for more info)
- Work out how much space you have & where it is (such as full sun/shade, etc. – your ingredients will have different light requirements)
- Check your soil. It might be easier to use a planter (like the one available from Harrod Horticultural on the right) – so you can add the right type of soil and items like plant food by specific types)
- Especially plan your year ahead – so you know what to plant & when, and when your crops will be available.
1b. If you want to grow inside.
Then yes, you need to organise your plan like above i.e. what you would like to grow.
But a key advantage is that by planning in advance you can grow your ingredients throughout the year and you are not tied into a specific season.
There are a few key items to focus on:
- The size of your plants – many herbs are a lot smaller then items like tomatoes and peppers,
- Timing & space available – ideally you want to have your plants grow at different timings, so you will continue to have fresh ingredients throughout the year. (But do you have the space?)
- Where you want to grow it ? Spare bedroom, kitchen, greenhouse, etc. They all have different advantages and disadvantages.
- And all the key items further down.
Item 2 – Decide if you want to use Water or Soil
Soil is cheap, easy and most popular. What’s easier then simply putting your seeds or plugplants in soil and watching them grow?
Hydroponics or Aquaponics will help you get far better and faster results.
Even a simple system (lke the automated dripper system shown right) will provide your plants with the ideal level of water & nutrients.
And if you link it to an automated light supply will help you get fresh herbs & vegetables even in the dark & cold winter months.
Or alternatively you can even take it a stage further and use an aquaponic system – where you will have a very attractive ‘fish tank’, making even growing your ingredients in the living room an option.
Item 3 – Arrange the right amount of Light & the ideal Temperature.
A key advantage of using a controlled system, where you use an automated light system is that you provide your plants with the right amount of light.
This simply means that you can grow fresh produce every single month of the year.
There are 2 options:
- Either simply use a specialist grow light (like the phlizon one shown right). Completely automated will provide your plants with the right type of light, at the right time.
- And/or take it a stage further and add an enclosed ‘tent’ which will let you control the temperature and humidity.
The advantage of the above is that it’s ideal for your plants – however might be better suited for a spare bedroom or in the garage. (Yes, natural light is not required but might be nicer)
Item 4 – Don’t forget items like Pollination & Natural Aroma (The ‘Smell of certain plants’)
For some plants (like Tomatoes) pollination will be important – such as either the breeze throught an open window or simply using a fan.
Similarly some plants (like garlic) will have a natural aroma – you won’t notice it outside but growing in the kitchen might be a bit overpowering.
Quick Summary / Action Plan
Growing your own fresh ingredients at home will help you use ingredients not locally available ‘out of season’. Similarly you will be able to grow specialist ingredients not available in most shops.
To start the 4 key actions needed are:
- Make a list of the ingredients that are important to you.
- Select where you want to grow them (inside, outside or both)
- Decide if you prefer soil or water (i.e. hydroponics or aquaponics)
- Decide if you prefer natural light or boosting light (for example during the winter) to change your growing season.