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Beat the Cost of Living Crisis


Gardeners can beat the cost-of-living crisis and cut their annual supermarket shopping bills by hundreds of pounds, simply by growing their own fruit and veg in a small garden, according to Marshalls Garden – a leading supplier of flowers, edibles, tools, compost and garden accessories.

Marshalls Garden’s ‘Food for Thought’ exhibit, which will take centre stage in the Great Pavilion at the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show on 24-28 May, will reveal how hundreds of pounds worth of fresh produce can be sustainably grown and harvested from a beautiful plot that measures no more than 10x10m (33x33ft).

Created by multi-award-winning designer Jon Wheatley, the potager-style garden will demonstrate how a small plot that’s brimming with fresh, healthy produce can look as ornamental as it is edible. The innovative design will showcase recycling, upcycling and easy ways to enhance biodiversity, inspiring visitors to embrace eco-friendly gardening at home.

With inflation running at a 30-year high and the Office for Budget Responsibility warning that it could hit a 40-year high of almost nine per cent by the end of 2022, Marshalls Garden believes the tough economic climate is driving demand for grow-your-own once again. According to data from the Office of National Statistics, the average household spends £234 on fresh vegetables, £208 on fruit and £130 on potatoes per year – a total annual bill of £572. Yet hundreds of pounds could be saved by growing produce in gardens.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Marshalls Garden has witnessed a significant uplift in demand for seeds and plants. After the UK went into lockdown, the company’s seed sales rose by 130 per cent; young veg plants soared by 118 per cent and fruit sales rose by 55 per cent. By making the most of every inch of growing space, the Food for Thought garden will reveal how a small plot can supply a family of four with fresh produce for a year – as long as excess produce can be frozen, preserved or pickled.

Marshalls Garden Managing Director, Mark Sage, said: “Marshalls Garden is proud to be bringing its unrivalled expertise in kitchen gardening and sustainable horticulture to the heart of the world’s most prestigious flower show. With the cost of living crisis topping the political agenda, the nation’s gardeners will be scouring Chelsea for ways to beat rising costs by growing healthy food at home. Our Food for Thought garden will reveal how flowers, fruit and vegetables can sit happily side-by-side, resulting in an abundance of sustainable and beautiful produce that cuts supermarket bills and reduces food miles to footsteps.”

Jon Wheatley, Managing Director of Stonebarn Landscapes, which will build the organic garden, is growing 98 per cent of the plants for the exhibit in partnership with renowned vegetable grower and exhibitor Terry Porter. While the garden will demonstrate how to grow money-saving staples such as potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and broccoli, it will showcase Marshalls Garden’s extensive range of high yielding edibles that produce an abundance of crops in small gardens, while looking as attractive as flowers.

Ornamental edibles include the new Purple Sprouting Broccoli ‘Purplelicious’ with bright purple stems, heavy cropping Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’, brilliantly coloured Chilli ‘Basket of Fire’, intensely red-stemmed Swiss Chard ‘Red Magic’ and Pepper ‘Californian Wonder’. Visitors will be able to see how Pea ‘Hurst Green Shaft’ crops heavily by resisting downy mildew and fusarium wilt, and admire the long, red roots of Beetroot ‘Cylindra’.

The garden will throw the spotlight on how companion planting can cut pesticide use and reduce losses due to aphid attack, demonstrating how growing sacrificial nasturtiums and tagetes close to edibles can lure pests away from food crops.

Food for Thought will feature a biodiverse lawn – a new generation of eco-friendly ground cover incorporating meadow flowers and herbs, designed to enhance biodiversity and encourage pollinator-friendly species. Set to feature hedge mustard, corncockle, Californian poppy, cowslip and foraging plants for bees and beneficial insects, the biodiverse lawn will be teamed up with a bee hive to demonstrate the potential that naturalistic planting holds for creating wildlife sanctuaries.

Designed with the environment in mind, every aspect of the Food for Thought garden will embrace sustainable living. The greenhouse, glass, timber, water troughs, pots, art and tools are all recycled. The garden will demonstrate how to reduce dependency on water by mulching plants effectively, while a dipping pond will collect rainwater and nurture wildlife.

Highlighting how to put every inch of space to productive use, Food for Thought will champion an edible green roof, designed to maximise yields of strawberries over a long season. The aromatic, perpetual fruiting Strawberry ‘Mara des Bois’ will show visitors how a summer-long harvest of strawberries – an expensive fruit to buy at supermarkets – can be achieved, alongside camomile and herbs that will nestle in the eco-friendly green roof.

The team at Marshalls Garden will be on hand at Chelsea to highlight the many ways in which gardening and grow-your-own can improve physical and mental health. Tending edibles at home can help us to burn off calories and it’s medically proven that people who carry out regular physical activity can have up to a 35 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, just 30 minutes of gardening is comparable to playing badminton or practicing yoga. Research studies have also found that gardening can result in reductions in depression and anxiety, and improved social functioning. Plus, home-grown veg is packed with vitamins and nutrients that play a key role in a healthy diet.

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This story was published on: 22/04/2022

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