Portsmouth group inspiring residents to grow their own fruit and veg

A GREEN-FINGERED group is hoping to inspire city residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables as part of a practical hobby amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 5:34 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 5:35 pm
Horticulturalist Goff Gleable with grandaughter Abigail and wife Mary. Picture: Goff Gleadle

Incredible Edible Portsmouth, which has currently attracted almost 200 members, aims to teach people how they can yield their own crops - even without gardens or allotments.

To get involved residents can join the group's Facebook page where fellow gardeners are sharing ideas and top tips on how to get the best results.

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How you can grow your own tomatoes in a small space. Picture Goff Gleadle

One of the founding members, Sarcha Wheeler, explained that the group began a few months ago as a way to boost sustainability.

The 26-year-old Southsea resident said: 'We seem to have a disconnect when it comes to thinking about what food we put in our bodies but actually it can be rewarding to put time and effort into growing that food. It's about being self-sustaining.

'We were worried that lots of people in Portsmouth have small or no gardens, which might dissuade them from growing food. But as long as you have a windowsill and some light and water you can grow things.'

Sarcha also believed the current Covid-19 pandemic was a good reason to get involved.

How you can grow tomatoes in florists buckets. Picture Goff Gleadle

'The lockdown has left some supermarkets empty so people might be a bit more aware of how fragile our food supply can be,' she said.

'Now is a good time to start planting things and sowing seeds, while you have the time.

'Hopefully one day we will be able to share some of our crops with each other as well.'

Nick Sebley, one of the group's organisers, added: 'Growing your own food is a win win as far as I am concerned. You get much fresher food, for a cheaper price - it’s £1.15 to buy 800 organic seeds of lettuce.

Goff's grandaughter Bethany helping out. Picture Goff Gleadle

'There are very little food miles: in fact, it’s more likely to be climate and biodiversity positive: taking carbon out the air and providing food and shelter for creatures like bees.'

Horticulturalist and chairman of the Cosham allotments Goff Gleadle has joined the group to share his expertise.

The 78-year-old said: 'Growing my own vegetables has always been my passion.

'People might just want to get away from things and get outside and it's great for your mental wellbeing. You can save yourself a bit of money because seeds are very cheap and depending on what type of crop you sow you can save a lot - for example runner beans cost quite a lot in the shop but you can grow massive amounts in a small space.

How you can grow lettuce in a small tub. Picture Nick Sebley

'The most important thing for me is freshness though. It's not subjective, it's scientific that fruit and vegetables taste better when fresh.

'There are so many things you can grow in very little space.'

Search Incredible Edible Portsmouth on Facebook to get involved.

Goff Gleadle's top tips on how to grow vegetables in a small space

GROWING fruit and veg isn't just for those with large gardens, according to horticulturalist Goff Gleadle.

He said: 'You don't have to have a large garden or allotment to grow your own, even a patio of balcony can produce quite a low.

'Tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillies and herbs can be grown in buckets. So can carrots, lettuce, dwarf beans and many other things.

'Florist buckets are very useful and can often be obtained from florists or greengrocers for nothing. Tumbling tomatoes in these buckets can be attached to a fence taking up less room and making use of vertical space.

'Three or four of these can give you tomatoes all summer with no training or side shooting. You can also grow tumbling tomatoes, herbs or salad leaves in hanging baskets and window boxes.

'Carrots and potatoes also do very well in buckets.

'If you have a little more room you can have a grow bed, 6 ft by 3 ft is a useful size.

'To get the maximum out of this divide the bed into squares using string. Sow quick growing crops like lettuce, radish or baby carrots in half of the squares, then two or three weeks later sow the other squares with similar crops.

'When you have finished harvesting the first lot the second lot will be ready. By continually resowing as you harvest you can grow and amazing amount in this small area.'