Consumers urged to grow food

HW/Thompson & Morgan research has found that spending less than £10 on seeds can generate almost £1,000 worth of produce.

But while "growing your own" can help pay the bills, there is not enough good-quality advice available from garden centres and pundits to help gardeners, according to garden writer and broadcaster Peter Seabrook.

A big drive to promote self-sufficient growing of food is taking place in the garden media, and garden centres and nurseries should make sure they are following suit, the veteran garden expert said.

Campaigns in BBC Gardeners' World magazine and on TV, as well as via the RHS and HTA, are pushing the money-saving element of grow-your-own in these times of credit crunch and inflation.

Seabrook said: "Without doubt, you can save. But you need to get the best return by having someone alongside you who knows what they're doing. You won't save money listening to any of the pundits.

"The professional organisations, seed companies, garden centres and RHS could do a lot more to help people grow their own, save money and reduce air miles - but they don't have the expertise to do it."

ESTIMATED COST SAVINGS

Thompson & Morgan vegetable product manager Colin Randel said: "Growing your own is healthy and chemical-free (and reduces) packaging and transport costs from the supermarket."

He estimated that consumers could make the following savings on supermarket prices:

  • Tomato: Gardener's Delight costs £1.89 for 65 seeds.

Each plant gives 150 fruits at about 20g each, so three plants provide 450 fruits or 9kg.

Supermarket price is £1.25 per 250g punnet, so 9kg would cost £45 at retail.

A gardener could probably get five years' sowing from a single packet of seeds - making £225 worth of tomatoes over five years.

  • Tomato: Moneymaker costs £1.69 for 75 seeds.

Each plant gives 50 fruits at about 80g each, so three plants provide 150 fruits or 12kg.

Loose tomatoes cost 75p/lb (0.45kg) at retail, so 12kg would cost £20.

A gardener could probably get five years' sowings from a single packet - making £100 worth of tomatoes over five years.

  • Carrot: Early Nantes costs £1.49 for 3,000 seeds (2,000 roots).

One hundred bunches of 20 roots each, at a retail price of £1 per bunch, would make £100 worth of carrots.

  • Lettuce: Little Gem costs £1.49 for 1,250 seeds (750 to 1,000 heads), over two/three years.

At 35p retail per head, 750 heads would make £262 worth of lettuce.

  •  Runner Bean: White Lady costs £2.99 for 40 beans (35 plants).

Each plant produces 1kg of pods, so 35 plants makes 35kg (77lb). At £1/lb retail, that makes £77 worth of beans.

  • Courgette: Green Bush costs £1.69 for 25 seeds (20 plants) over two years.

Ten plants of 25 fruits each means 250 fruits, making 31kg (68lb). At £1/lb retail, that would make £68 each year for two years - £136 worth of courgettes.


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