Grow Your Own

Many types of fruit and vegetables can grow in Ireland. The most popular are soft fruits such as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, apples, and of course our trusty potato. Growing your own fruit and vegetables does not have to be an expensive task. You can grow your own plants from only a few seeds, providing you with nutrient rich fruit, vegetables and herbs. Children will learn so much more by observing the growing process as it begins, from the seed. 

This can be achieved anywhere. You may use your garden or if you have space, you could build a vegetable patch. You could also use pots placed on a patio or balcony or simply grow them inside near a sunny window or by a glass door. It’s important to have fun while growing your own plants and tasting the produce is the best part!

#FoodDudesFun #ActiveHomeWeek

Start from Seeds

Seeds will need to be started indoors in a warm room and once sprouted they can be transplanted into pots until ready to set out, or they can be placed into a cold frame which is set on top of the garden bed. You can buy seeds in most garden centres and some shops and supermarkets. To find plants near where you live, click here


Tips for Growing your Own Plant 

  1. Water your plants; Stick your finger into the soil near the base of the plant until it meets your knuckle. If the tip of your finger is moist deep in the soil, your plant is ok for a drink until it feels dry.
  2. Provide sunlight; this is how plants make their food so it is very important they get enough light to help them grow. Provide them with nutrients; A little bit of extra help is always welcomed by growing plants, and makes for a healthier plant and a better end result.
  3. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and to a lesser extent calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are called micronutrients, and these are the nutrients that plants need most.
  4. It is advisable to transfer plants outside into bigger pots once the danger of frost has passed, particularly tomato plants as they can grow quite large!

Safety tip: Make sure not to handle your tomato plants too much and if doing so always wear gloves as they may cause irritation.

Phosphorus is needed to grow strong healthy root systems, and to promote vigorous flowering.

Potassium helps with plant growth, protein production, plant hardiness, disease resistance, insect resistance and efficient water use. Plants without enough potassium grow slowly and can have yellow leaves.

Nitrogen is the nutrient plants use most to grow large and lush - tall stems with lots of good leafy growth. Remember; less is more when it comes to fertilisers and watering. Just provide them with enough to moisten soil.


DIY Plant Food

Did you know that there are some rather unusual items that can aid your plants’ growth – and they can all be found in your home?

  1. Coffee grounds can actually provide your plants with vital antioxidants and minerals like potassium and nitrogen. Allow the coffee to dry and then scatter lightly over your plants. 
  2. Banana peels are full of potassium. Bananas provide great nutrition for your plants. Bury a few bits of banana peel in with your plants. 
  3. Cooking water; many different nutrients are released into the water that food is cooked in. Water that is used to boil potatoes, vegetables, eggs, and even pasta can be used as a fertilizer. Just remember to let the water cool before applying it to your soil. 
  4. Egg Shells are full of calcium which is an essential plant nutrient as it plays a fundamental part in plant growth.Simply crush them into powder and sprinkle them around your garden soil. 
  5. Green tea can be used to water plants every 4 weeks. Use 1 teabag to 7.5L of water to make a weak solution of green tea. 



Reusing household waste as seed starter pots

Reusing materials is great for the environment. You were only going to throw it away, so why not find a new use?

  1. Using old egg boxes
  2. Toilet rolls make great seed starter pots; Simply cut the roll in half around the middle. Make for cuts at one end of the roll. Fold these cuts in as you would to close a box. Fill with soil and you’re ready to go!
  3. Egg shell ‘pots’ are great ways to reuse household ways; Wash and dry old egg shells. Make a small hole in the bottom for drainage. Decorate if you like. Fill with moist soil. Add seeds.
  4. Reuse an old sandbox or paddling pool; If your children have outgrown their sandbox or paddling pool, you may consider converting this into a garden bed. This gives your child continued ‘ownership’ of a familiar space and encourages a sense of responsibility to the gardening project. 

Fun Grow Your Own Ideas

Grow some plant hair

Growing cress or mustard seeds from a potato or egg shell is a quick way of growing your own. Cress will grow within 5-10 days meaning you don’t have to wait long for results.

You will need:

1 fresh potato or egg

Paints or felt-tip pens

1 packet of cress seeds

2 balls of cotton wool

Step by step;

  1. First, an adult will need cut off and then scoop out the top of the potato to create a little hollow for the cress to be grown in
  2. Slice the bottom of the potato to create a flat surface so it can stand
  3. Decorate your potato head to make them come alive. 
  4. Dampen the cotton wool balls and place on the top of the potato
  5. Sprinkle the cress seeds on top of the cotton wool
  6. Find a sunny spot for your cress to grow and wait for the magic to happen
  7. Check the cotton wool each day to make sure it is damp
  8. Once the cress has grown enough it can be cut and eaten, it’s yummy in an egg sandwich!

Cress or mustard seeds can also be grown in an egg shell so get cracking!

  1. When cracking eggs, try to crack close to the top 
  2. Wash and dry the shells and place back in the egg box or in an egg cup
  3. Follow steps 4-7 above
For more tips and tricks check out Bord Bia's Gardening Tips!