Different spaces lend themselves to different types of garden. If you are lucky enough to have a garden outside, with its own beds, there is scope to grow enough fruit and veg to last you the summer, or at least make a significant dent in your shopping bill.
If you have a porch, or area to put planters outside your home, you can still grow herbs, salad and, depending on the amount of light, tomatoes, chilli plants, peppers and courgettes.
If you only have indoor space, use places near the windows for herbs, tomatoes and salad. As long as you have windows, you can grow your own food (and if you’re windowless, you can still grow mushrooms)..
That said, each type of garden comes with its own limitations. Outdoors, plants face slugs, snails, aphids, caterpillars, cats, foxes and more, and are exposed to the elements. However, this also means that, assuming a standard British summer, they’ll get watered fairly regularly and have space to grow.
Indoors, plants are protected from the elements and, arguably, easier to care for particularly if you position them somewhere near the taps (eg, the kitchen windowsill or bathroom). However, you are obviously more limited in terms of the size of container you use; and plants left unwatered will have less resources to draw from than those planted outside.
The smaller the container a plant is in, the more nutrients it will need. Your growing medium becomes much more important. I tried using coconut husk compost this year but, while it was fine for establishing seedlings and adding bulk to the lower levels of large planters, it lacked the nutrients to make older plants thrive. Tomatoes were particularly unforgiving, though I managed to rescue one by transplanting it into a larger pot filled with compost after it fruited for the first time.
You also need to consider drainage and moisture levels – the former to avoid rotting roots, the latter to maximise the water that can be held by your growing medium. You don’t need to have holes in the bottom of pots – a good layer of pebbles or broken crockery at the bottom of the pot can provide enough space for water to drain.
Of course, you may choose to opt for a self-watering system to keep plants thriving indoors (or indeed, outdoors, though this does take rather more effort0. However, you still need to watch your plants carefully for aphids (yes, they can still attack indoor plants if you open your windows) and dead-head/removed damaged leaves to keep your plant thriving. I also turn indoor plants daily, to ensure they get an even amount of light on all sides.
Whether you’re gardening indoors or outdoors, there’s pleasure to be gained in eating something you’ve grown yourself. Even if you just tend a chilli plant, it can still help you save money – and mean you can feel proud of yourself for helping something grow.