Student digs are typically quite limited – Most houses have a garden while student flats tend to just have balconies. You might wonder just how much you might be able to grow. You’d be surprised. Play your cards right, and choose the right crops, and you could have an ample supply of some staple crops right through the autumn and winter.
This is only ideal if you intend to stay in a place through the summer, so better suited to third years and postgrads unless you’re making a year-round home in your student accommodation.
The humble spud is the most obvious and comes up the most often because they are (in most years) so easy to grow. From one seed potato you could get as many as ten potatoes at harvest – depending on the breed.
Put a maximum of two seed potatoes in one large tub, or one seed potato in a medium tub. They need plenty of sunlight and damp (not wet) soil. They can stay in the ground or the pot quite happily, even after the plant has died off and will keep for months in dry, dark conditions.
Another easy one to grow, so long as you can keep them away from mice (netting is useful). You’ll need some bean poles as they climb and cling. Within just a couple of months, you’ll start getting the first pods, typically containing anything between four and eight peas. You might “only” end up with the equivalent of a supermarket bag of frozen peas, but nothing beats the taste of fresh peas. They have a certain sweetness that supermarket peas lack.
You can buy onions as seeds or as sets (bags of miniature looking onions). Most possible pests will leave them alone because the shoots taste nasty – this is why we eat the bulb and not the shoot! The only issue you may have with onion is water – they need plenty. Don’t let the soil dry out as the onion could bolt. When this happens, a flower like growth appears on the top. The onion will no longer grow and may even rot quickly. Dig up and use (if it hasn’t already gone).
It is often said that strawberries thrive on neglect. This isn’t strictly true, but it’s not far wrong. Strawberries are one of the most iconic fruits of the summer thanks to its association with Wimbledon. With cream or ice cream, they make a great dessert in the warmer months. Plus, you can make jam with them.
You’ll need to give them water regularly and occasional feeding. Aside from that, strawberries are more than happy to do their own thing. Make sure you pluck strawberries as soon as they are red all over. Doing this promotes new growth.