Growing case-studies

strawberry-patchGrow your own at home, big or small

Mmm. You can’t get fresher than produce you’ve just picked from your windowsill, garden or allotment. This means more taste, and more nutrients, for you and your family. It also saves you money, and reduces food miles (and packaging). So it’s win-win for both you and the environment. If you don’t know where to start, check out our real-life case studies below, or come along to one of our Saturday community gardening sessions. You’ll be made very welcome.

And if you’re growing already? Whether it’s a windowsill chilli plant or pot of herbs, or a tree in your back garden, we want to shout about it! Please email your food plant photos to us with a brief description, and we’ll add them to the photo montage, below. The idea is to capture people’s imaginations with what we can all grow at home, with minimal effort.

Love to grow your own fresh fruit and veg, but wouldn’t have a clue where to start? Our real-life case studies show how it’s done.



1. Amanda’s story: Growing without mush-room (also see No space to grow? No problem)



“I live in a rented West Didsbury flat, and, like many people who are renting, I don’t get too involved with the shared back garden.

“My windowsill, however, tells its own story! It only measures 39 inches by 3 inches, but it’s packed with growing potential.

“I’ve always got something ‘on the grow’ indoors. I’ve successfully grown mini salad peppers, rocket and other salad leaves, chilli, basil and thyme so far. And, as they’re all in little pots, I can take my plants away with me when I move.

“I’m currently trying my hand at growing mushrooms for the first time. You can buy mushroom growing kits very cheaply – even in pound shops these days – so there’s really nothing to lose by experimenting.

“I started the mushrooms off before I went away for the Easter weekend. You simply empty the bag of mushrooms in the kit over the spawned compost that also comes with it. Cover it, and keep it in a warm, dark place for 6 days.

“I took the lid off today and, as expected, 6 days on, a white fluffy layer has started to appear on the surface! Apparently I just need to keep this damp using a mist spray, and my mushrooms will start to appear after several days. I can leave them to grow as large as I want… and once my supply has run out, I can simply pop the cover back on, place it in a warmer place for 24 hours, and I’ll get some more!”

“You can buy mushroom growing kits very cheaply – even in pound shops these days – so there’s really nothing to lose by experimenting.”


2. Jane’s story: Growing in an average-sized Didsbury garden

“Planting the trees was easy and took 15 minutes at most. You can’t beat sinking your teeth into something you’ve just picked from your own garden.”


“We moved into our house in Didsbury at the end of September 2011. When we bought the house, the garden was entirely made up of pergolas covered in thick ivy. The garden had been badly neglected and needed serious levels of upkeep. I cut down what I could, and filled around 19 green wheelie bins with ivy!

“When peeling away the layers of the garden we discovered 2 traditional plum trees that we think are probably victorias and one (we’ve been told) local variety. It’s a yellow cherry plum; small, yellow and cherry-shaped. Delicious!

“We’ve always been keen growers of fruit and veg, either with huge gluts and pots of success, or terrible failure. So the first week we could get out there, we planed quince, an apple tree, and an (ornamental) cherry tree.

“Our garden is approx 43 feet by 25 feet, which is a fairly average size for Didsbury. We planted the trees in a bed that’s approximately 10 metres wide and 2 metres deep.

Planting them was easy and took 15 minutes at most. Husband just dug a hole, mixed in some manure to enrich the soil, and placed each one in. Taking them out of their pots took longer than planting them!

“The quince came from a specialist grower inPickering, N Yorks. It was a present from an uncle to celebrate the birth of our baby. It’s about 2 metres tall at the moment.

“The apple tree was a dwarf variety that my grandma had in a pot, and I inherited when she died. It was never very happy in the pot so we nursed it along until we were ready to plant. Because it’s a dwarf it’s about a metre tall.

“The cherry came from B&Q a few years ago and had been in a pot waiting until we moved. It cost under £8, and when it’s in blossom it looks stunning. It’s not a big tree; it’s ornamental and is probably a smidge over a metre.

The great thing about trees is they are perfect for the lazy-ish gardener. They only need a little bit of TLC a couple of times a year, bit of mulching, maybe a prune, treat any canker, that kind of thing.”

“We know we won’t be eating fruit from them this year and probably not reliably for a few years. But you can’t beat sinking your teeth into something you’ve just picked from your own garden.

“We’ve also planted a row of raspberry canes and a strawberry patch. We’ve got some courgette seeds on the go and we’re talking about tomatoes and peas. We’ve got chives, parsley and thyme growing and we’ll be planting lots more. Watch this space!”


Enjoyed reading these real-life case studies? Don’t forget you can also follow our community growing photo blog at