How do you start growing?


@Andy recently asked: “Is there a good way you’ve found to start growing like this?” (ie starting a container garden).

It’s a simple but brilliant question. I’ve met lots of people who’d like to grow but aren’t really sure how to get started. It would be great if we can pool our experience on this - as we’ve all been there, we’ve all had to start somewhere.

What advice would you offer Andy and others who are just starting on their growing journey? What would you do first? What are the essentials you need and how and where would you get them? Any other advice for brand new growers?

No need to try and answer all these questions (unless you want to), any tip from your experience will be helpful.


I started with some grow bags that were on offer, 6 for £5, and three tomato plants. The tomatoes went in one bag, bag number two was partially split across the middle and upended to produce two smaller ones and some potatoes that had started to sprout went in there. Some sad looking climbing beans left over from all the nice ones went in another split bag. I did try some carrots in another one but the slugs got the better of them. That’s all I tried for the first go, did get some nice food from what survived, the following year reused the soil and the left over bags, and used anything that would hold soil and water and had another go. Still garden like that, its not always pretty but it works for me.


I reuse plastic containers and buy seed compost in small bags( eg pound shop)then my seeds come from seed stops or friends. In mid Feb I begin growing on indoor windowsills of cool but frost free space.
Gradually by end of March some can go into larger pots. There is some danger of frost until May here in York.


I live in Southern Ontario, Canada. We have terrible clay soil and I wanted to start vegetable gardening in 2012. I started picking up wooden boxes/crates from the side of the road in industrial areas. I filled them with free leaf compost from the city and compost that I make with three composters from leaves, grass and food peelings. Every year I added more boxes till I now have over 50 boxes and about 20 large pots that I have collected for free as well. the last three years I have canned 300 to 400 jars of food from my garden and made over 100 bottles of hot sauce. In the beginning I bought seeds and plants and now I save seeds and start my own every spring on a shelf that I hang lights from.! I tried to upload pictures but it didn’t work. I’m a technology challenged senior citizen. it doesn’t matter how you start just try something. ask people if they have pots they don’t use pick up stuff from the garbage or yard sales. try my facebook link if you are interested in pictures. we did a major redo of the boxes last year.


Hi Mark,
Thanks for your reply.

While waiting for my local lethargic council try to locate my desired allotment in their poorly maintained records, I have cleared out the balcony on my flat and decided to start growing there for now.

Flowers, herbs and vegetables, whatever was lying around including some old tulip bulbs stored beneath the boiler!

Sweet Pea Special Mix, Sunflowers, Nasturtium Empress of India & Tom Thumb Mixed, Pure English Bluebell, Butterfly Bee Mix, Organic Coriander, Genovese Basil, Onward Early and Main Crop Pea, Sugar Snap Pea, Purple Radish, Alicante Tomato & Tulipa Exquisit Bulbs.

Now they are all planted and well watered, I’m curious as to whether any of these will grow and flourish out of season, or I will have to wait patiently for next year?

Hope to see you at the London Permaculture festival at Cecil Sharpe House on July 7th!

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Wow, Sandra, I looked at your Facebook photos. Your containers are amazing. I’m just starting out but you’ve given me something to aspire to :slight_smile:

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