Coronavirus and food: grow your own and avoid supermarket queues

Worried about coronavirus and food supplies? Growing your own at home could be a viable alternative to shops

tomatoes growing in pots
(Image credit: Getty)

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on UK supermarkets, with most of them introducing buying limits this week to counteract panic buying that has left many people unable to buy essentials. And while there's no much we can do about low stocks of loo roll and hand sanitiser, there is something many of us can do to help boost our access to fresh food while self-isolating: growing your own.

Just to be clear: supermarkets are doing their absolute best to keep replenishing stock, but if you have a garden – or even just a window sill – you can easily grow many types of vegetables yourself, which will help you top up on vitamins, even if it can't make you completely self-sufficient.

These are the best vegetables and fruit to grow at home, with or without a garden

The Great Garden Weekender – Easter Bank Holiday 2020

Garden looking a bit sorry for itself? This Easter we'll be bringing you everything you need to transform it with our amazing Great Garden Weekender, which runs from April 10th–13th. 

We'll have the best prices on garden furniture, lawnmowers, sheds and barbecues, as well as easy step-by-step guides to help you finally paint your decking, clean your patio or plant that veg.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the best crops to grow in containers, and so long as they get about six hours of sunlight a day and plenty of water, it doesn't matter if you grow them on a balcony, a patio, or a window sill. Make sure to choose good quality potting soil rather than all-purpose compost, water them well and feed them with tomato fertiliser once they're actively growing.

2. Lettuce

Lettuce is satisfying to grow in containers, and be somewhat easier than growing it in the garden as you can keep a watchful eye on any pests. For growing lettuce, you'll need a deep pot (lettuce roots need plenty of room to develop) and good-quality potting soil mixed with vermiculite. Lettuce roots can't tolerate water logging, so you need soil that retains moisture but isn't soggy. 

If you notice your lettuce plants being attacked by pests, use soapy water as pesticide.  

3. Peas

Peas require two things: good drainage and lots of water. So, choose a pot with drainage holes (in fact, this applies to all other home-grown crops), and remember to water your peas regularly, at least twice a day. When the shoots are growing quickly, add fertiliser. 

4. Potatoes

Did you know that potatoes can be grown in an old bin? Although most of us associate potato growing with allotments and lots of land, they can thrive in containers. Get the largest container you can get and line the bottom with well rotted compost or manure. Then, use high-quality garden compost. Plant chitted seed potatoes (about four per pot), cover well with compost. Place in a sunny spot and water regularly.

5. Strawberries

Growing strawberries is easy and fun – but it's best to go for plug plants rather than seeds. Other than that, ensure you buy well-draining soil and place them in a sunny, sheltered spot. Water well. Find out more about planting strawberries in our guide.