Families grow their own fruit and veg to beat cost-of-living crisis

Families are growing their own fruit and veg in a bid to beat the cost-of-living crisis with seed sales up four-fold and homegrown blackberry sales up 109 per cent

  • People can save up to £2,000 a year by changing their garden into a veg patch
  • Waitrose Garden says seed sales are up four-fold compared with last year
  • B&Q reports surges in blackberries, fennel and asparagus being grown at home 
  • Families are increasingly growing their own fruit and veg in a bid to beat the cost-of-living crisis.

    People imitating ‘The Good Life’ can save up to £2,000 a year by changing their garden into a veg patch with experts advising them to grow pricier items such as tomatoes or aubergines to maximise savings. Even a few tomato plants could save a family £30 over the summer. 

    Waitrose Garden says seed sales are up four-fold compared with last year, while B&Q reports surges in blackberries, fennel and asparagus being grown at home, with sales up 109 per cent, 73 per cent and 136 per cent respectively.

    But Kam Dhillon, B&Q’s horticulture manager, said: ‘While homegrown classics such as tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries remain popular, we have seen a sales increase of “trendier” veg due to a younger generation of gardeners, with sales of blackberries, fennel and asparagus up 109 per cent, 73 per cent and 136 per cent respectively.

    Families are increasingly growing their own fruit and veg in a bid to beat the cost-of-living crisis. Pictured, file photo

    Families are increasingly growing their own fruit and veg in a bid to beat the cost-of-living crisis. Pictured, file photo

    ‘From complete beginners to expert gardeners, to those with a vegetable patch or even a windowsill for space, it’s great to see the nation embrace growing fruit and vegetables at home. It’s cost saving and rewarding.’ 

    Many Britons started growing their own fruit and veg – like Tom and Barbara Good in 1970s sitcom The Good Life – during lockdown.

    Leigh Hunt, from the Royal Horticultural Society, said: ‘Growing your own can help save money, but do a bit of planning before you plant. Prioritise growing the most expensive. Carrots are cheap and easy to grow but you’ll save more by growing crops like salad.’

    Home-grown tomatoes can cost as little as 5p a pound, compared with more than £1 a pound in supermarkets. Aubergines and lettuces can be about 20p each compared with about £1 or more in stores.

    Nicola Parsons from Waitrose Garden said seed sales were up four-fold compared to last year.

    The 1970s BBC sitcom The Good Life told the story of Tom and Barbara Good – played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal – as they turned their middle-class Surbiton home into a self-sufficient farm to avoid the rat race.

    Leigh Hunt, from the Royal Horticultural Society, said: ‘Growing your own can help save money but any budding Barbara and Toms need to do a bit of planning at the start of the year before they plant.

    Home-grown tomatoes can cost as little as 5p a pound, compared with more than £1 a pound in supermarkets. Aubergines and lettuces can be about 20p each compared with about £1 or more in stores (file photo)

    Home-grown tomatoes can cost as little as 5p a pound, compared with more than £1 a pound in supermarkets. Aubergines and lettuces can be about 20p each compared with about £1 or more in stores (file photo)  

    ‘Work out which fruit and vegetables you buy most often and prioritise growing the most expensive of these. Carrots are cheap and easy to grow but you’ll save more by growing crops like salad.’

    The National Allotment Association said the cost of running a typical plot measuring 300 square yards (17 yards by 17 yards) is £247-a-year with the value of produce as high as £1,900. The same would apply to a garden of the same size but without rental costs.

    Philippa Wright, chairman of the Guildford Allotments Co-operative Society which has seen its waiting list double, said: ‘Many are growing the more expensive items, for example asparagus, artichokes, ginger. Fruit bushes are great for produce that is costly and not always readily available like redcurrants or gooseberries.’

    Experts say any budding gardeners have left it too late to grow from seed, but there is still time to buy plants.