Reduce your plastic waste by growing your own vegetables
A shocking study by the Local Government Association recently revealed that only one third of plastic food containers used in the UK can be recycled, so despite residents putting aside 525,000 plastic pots tubs and trays for recycling each year, two-thirds of that gets incinerated or thrown into landfill.
Convenience food is the major culprit and that includes pre-packed fruit and vegetables. Although the Government has been called upon to ban manufacturers from using low grade plastics, which are hard to recycle, we could all do with looking at the foods we buy to find ways of reducing our plastic use.
One satisfying way of cutting down on your household plastic waste is by growing your own crops and you don’t need an allotment to do it! There are plenty of vegetables for example, that are very easy to grow and are perfectly happy in pots and tubs, so even if you have nothing but a balcony, as long as it gets plenty of natural light you can enjoy growing your own.
Vegetables suitable for containers
If space is at a premium, the following vegetables lend themselves to container cultivation: Beetroot, broad beans, carrots, French Beans, herbs, peas, potatoes, radishes, rocket, runner beans, chillies and peppers, salad leaves, salad onions, tomatoes.
We love upcycling, so look around your home, there are plenty of general household items that could make very good containers – tin cans for example, are excellent for creating a window ledge herb garden. For vegetables, ideally your container should be at least 45cm (18in) in depth and width, otherwise frequent watering and feeding will be needed. Grow-bags are also great if you’re lacking in space and ideal for tomatoes.
It’s tempting to buy the cheapest compost you can, but this is one of those occasions where you’re better to spend a bit more. Use sterile proprietary potting composts to obtain best results. There are plenty of branded composts which are good to use, including peat-free varieties. Compost in grow-bags tends to be of a reasonable quality.
When to grow
- Beetroot:sow in March
- Tomatoes: tomato seedlings are usually started in a greenhouse or polytunnel, but you can buy tomato plants that are ready to be planted out in late spring. Just make sure you put them against a wall or fence where they will get plenty of sun.
- Broad beans:sow from February
- Herbs:parsley can be sown in March for harvesting from June. Coriander and basil are also good herbs to grow in pots and repeat crops can be sown for a late summer harvest.
- Lettuces:mini lettuces such as ‘Little Gem’ can be sown from January for June harvesting.
- Potatoes:plant early cultivars from March
- Salad leaves:sow from February - rocket, coriander, lettuce, chicory and spinach are all happy to grow in tubs
- Salad onions:sow from February.
- Carrots: sow from July for bunches of baby carrots in October
- Spinach:sow from February
- Courgettes: sow in June for a late summer harvest
Once your vegetables are ready to be harvested, enjoy the fruits of your labours! For root vegetables, try our ECOS Fruit and Veggie Wash with our LoofCo Vegetable Scrubber - a must have combination for cleaning muddy vegetables. Made from loofah plant, our LoofCo Vegetable scrubber is a biodegradable and plastic-free alternative to regular sponges and scrubbers. What’s more, when it’s worn out, you can add it to your compost. The ECOS Fruit and Veggie Wash helps remove dirt, bacteria and wax from fruit and vegetables. It's tasteless, fragrance free and approved by the Vegan Society.
- Claire Price