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Grow Your Way to Ten-A-Day

03 April, 2014

The World Health Organisation has (1 April 14) published research to suggest that your five-a-day should actually be more like seven, or even ten-a-day.

The UK population currently averages three portions a day [1], meaning a huge number of people are missing out on the maximum benefits that fruit and vegetables can bring to your diet and health.

Over a third of Brits already grow their own fruit and veg [2] to get essential nutrients and minerals into an everyday diet.

Steve Guy, head of horticulture at Dobbies, one of the UK’s largest garden centre chains with 34 stores across Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, offers his tips to help encourage more Brits to get involved:

What should you grow?

  • The most important thing is to grow what you like to eat. Select a range of your most- loved vegetables in a rainbow of colours and choose high yielding varieties to give lots of crops.
  • Salad leaves are one of the easiest and cheapest crops to grow so are a great vegetable for beginners.
  • Other cost-effective veg to grow at home include radish, rocket, runner beans, courgettes, carrots and beetroot.

The benefits of growing your own

  • Planting certain crops, such as baby leaves, will be ready to pick within 15-20 days of sowing so there’s little effort involved for a quick return. 
  • Growing your own fruit, veg and herbs really does save cash in the long run. A bag of seed potatoes can cost from as little as £1.99 at Dobbies, and two pounds of seed potatoes can yield up to 50 pounds of potato and you don’t need to carry home from the supermarket.
  • Remember that sowing from seed can save more money than planting young veg.  A packet of salad seeds costs much the same as a bag of salad leaves but can provide a season’s worth of fresh, delicious leaves with minimal waste.
  • You get to experience ultimate flavour and freshness. Fruit and veg which is harvested and eaten right away will taste better than anything you could pick up in your weekly grocery shop.
  • It’s more environmentally-friendly – you’re reducing food miles by picking crops from your own back garden.
  • Growing your own keeps you healthy!  Don’t waste time with a gym membership...just get into the garden and start digging! It’s great exercise, gives you fresh air and costs nothing at all! Just digging your veggie plot can burn up to 300 calories an hour.

Getting the basics right

  • Ambitious gardeners don’t need a big garden to grow fruit and vegetables but do have to consider the use of on space when choosing which seeds they will plant. Maximise the area available where possible – grow upwards using trellises for runner beans or downwards for strawberries using hanging baskets.
  • If plants are being arranged in containers, place lower growing plants around the edges to make sure they get the sun. Once they have been planted up, the pots can be moved to a sunny spot near the kitchen door or an outdoor kitchen area so they are close to hand for pot-to-plate picking.
  • Choose a sunny, sheltered spot for growing and spend a little time there every day watering and looking after the plants and keeping an eye out for slugs and caterpillars.
  • Think about the long term; buying a raspberry plant won’t produce a big yield in its first year but it will grow bigger every year and so will its crop.
  • Make it a family activity – get the kids into the garden and let them watch the growing process from start to finish – they will love it!

Many different fruit and vegetable seeds and plants are available at Dobbies centres throughout the UK, giving aspiring gardeners plenty of choice when it comes to growing their own. In store, Dobbies experts are on hand to give advice on how best to use available space.


[1] British Dietary Association, 2014

[2] City of London survey, 2012

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Grow Your Way to Ten-A-Day