Tag Archives: grow your own

Penny’s gardening blog: signs of Spring & our boxes to grow

Snow drops are flowering; daffs are starting to push up through the sodden earth. Signs of spring are here and it’s really not long before we can start to get busy in our gardens. If only it would stop raining! Just as we think the ground is finally starting to dry out we get another shower or downpour.

Growing your own is not just about producing food/flowers etc. It gets you outside. You are learning new skills. Breathing in fresh air and getting some exercise. You can educate your children about growing and also about the insects, birds and small mammals that live in our gardens and are very much part of the whole picture. Growing your own is a brilliant way to connect with the earth that we live on. Communing with nature! That may sound a bit hippy but it really is true!


Riverford’s Boxes to grow are now available to order and come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t even need a garden to grow them in. The small veg box to grow and the herb boxes to grow are ideal for people with a patio or balcony and it is amazing what you can produce in pots, tubs, old buckets, boxes. Even old veg boxes make a great container! We have put together large and small veg kits, two sizes of herb kits and an amazing flower box to grow too – the idea is that when your box arrives, you follow the preparation guidelines on the website and dig/weed your plot, spread well rotted manure etc and await the arrival of your kit with excitement!
What’s in the boxes?
The veg and flower kits consist of plants, seedlings, seeds and full instructions and guidance on what to do and how to do it. The contents of the veg and herb boxes to grow are carefully selected by our knowledgeable team here at Riverford, putting into a box our years of experience of growing fantastic tasting vegetables. We pick varieties that are full of flavour and disease resistant that more often than not, we ourselves use here on the farm.

The plants and seeds for the flower box to grow are all selected by me. I have been growing cut flowers for a long time and have plenty of experience in this area. The varieties I have selected are easy to grow and a good range of colours and will provide you with traditional country flowers to cut for your house and enough to give to friends too, for several months.

The herb boxes to grow consist of a selection of useful culinary herbs which will grow on and give you herbs for your kitchen for years, with the exception of one or two that are bi-annual or annual. These will happily grow in pots/tubs etc and are ideal for planting in our cupboards for veg boxes. We use a nursery that has been raising seedlings for us for many years, they are experts in their field and always send us top quality organic seedlings and plants.

Our boxes really are a great way to get started and are designed for beginners and the more savvy gardener alike. When your kit arrives you simply go out and get busy planting and sowing. In one fail swoop you’ll have a fully packed kitchen garden!

Challenges – the main problems that you could be faced with are the weather and predators such as slugs, snails, pigeons etc, and weeds. It can be a challenge but is usually hugely rewarding. There is nothing quite like going out to your garden to pick your supper, a few herbs and a bunch of flowers for the table. Think back to The Good Life!

I am here to support and give advice to anyone who needs it. I will be writing regular blogs on all areas of gardening over the year so please make use of me and send me questions or comments.


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Growing your own?

According to our customer survey, a staggering 43% of you are growing some of your own vegetables. The potatoes may succumb to blight, gooseberries be defoliated by sawfly and lettuces devoured by slugs, but that is not the point. However gnarled, nibbled and diminutive those vegetables, in their naked simplicity they will be the most revered food to enter the kitchen. They will bring a connection to nature and the seasons, and an appreciation of the wasteful triviality of cosmetic perfection and season-defying variety. The trials and tribulations of their cultivation will challenge arrogance and nurture a healthy sense of vulnerability and humility. I could go on to suggest that gardening will make you a better person, but you have probably already written me off as a hopeless hippy.

Of course this could be a problem for us, especially at this time of year when our fields and those gardens are both entering their most abundant season. To make matters worse, when the more successful gardeners have a flush of runner beans or courgettes they tend to give the surplus to neighbours, friends and relatives. What can we do in the face of such admirable, community-building, planet-saving generosity? We should probably sell seeds, plants and compost and maybe we will next year (I would be interested to hear if you would like us to; replies to growyourown@riverford.co.uk). In the meantime, let me point out to those of you who have us filed under V for veg, that we sell so much more; it will be a while before you have bananas and oranges with a house cow tethered out back. Of course if that green fingered neighbour has just dropped round a trug of courgettes and we deliver more the next day this might be a trifle trying, but the box scheme really is flexible. You can check what will be in your box from the previous Thursday, and change boxes or skip a week if there are overlaps. You can even choose not to have a box at all and simply top up your harvest with a bespoke order if you spend £12.50.

If my best efforts have failed to convince you that there is a place for us alongside the allotment, then I wish you an abundantly satisfying and satisfyingly abundant season, and hope that you come back in the autumn. You could even tell us when we can ring or email to harass you again.

Guy Watson