Growing Your Own
Students with an interest in growing their own can find themselves eating better than their counterparts whilst saving money with a little creativity.
Those in a room on campus may well have a window sill which can provide fresh salad. Just get a trough, fill with some multi-purpose compost and a packet of mixed cut and come again salad leaves seeds.
Within a few weeks you will be able to cut off the freshest salad leaves. The beauty of cut and come again, is that the leaves re-grow and you can get as many as five crops from one sowing. Of course, this doesn't save you a lot of money but you'll be enjoying some good food for next to nothing.
Don't forget you can grow herbs on a window ledge. The easy way is to buy them already growing in pots from a supermarket. When you get home, split them into four and plant into separate pots. In one stroke you've saved money.
If you've a bit of outdoor space then you can really start cutting down the food budget and enjoy a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables even from a paved area. The critical thing is that your growing area gets plenty of sunshine.
We found ourselves in a house with a concrete garden for a few years and managed to provide over half our vegetables by growing in pots. I've covered this in detail in my book, Vegetable, Fruit and Herb Growing in Small Spaces. And I bet it costs less than any of the text books you'll be buying!
You will be surprised at what you can grow in pots. We grew everything from peas and beans to potatoes. Just one courgette plant in a pot will keep you going for the term as long as it's fed and watered. The main problem you face is keeping things watered, especially in summer break. Often you'll find someone willing to cover you though.
It's well worth checking for societies or even advertising to meet like minded people at university. Half a dozen of you can get together and make short work of an allotment or large garden. Despite the national overall shortage of allotments, in some areas they've still un-let plots and usually the costs are ridiculously cheap.
Perhaps one person is living in a rented house with a large garden that can be made productive whilst still remaining a decorative area. Or you could find someone whose garden has become too much for them who would love to see it made productive again. Don't forget they'll really appreciate your company as well.
Perhaps of more interest to you than saving some money is saving the environment. There are few things greener than growing your own. The food miles and carbon footprint just aren't an issue for home growers.
And you'll discover, as a surprising number of others have, that gardening is the perfect way to free your mind from academic pressures. Got a thorny problem? Taking a few hours out gardening lets your subconscious take on the problem and, unlike the union bar, puts money in your pocket. You won't get a hangover either but I can't promise you won't have a few aching muscles. Still, it keeps you as fit as any gym.
John Harrison is the author of the best selling book Vegetable Growing Month by Month amongst others. His website is Allotment Gardening.