The Idler Guide to Growing Vegetables and Herbs with Alys Fowler

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If you’ve ever wanted to grow your own vegetables and herbs, or have made a start but need extra guidance, then this is the course for you.

Whether you just want to grow a few herbs on the windowsill, or run a whole allotment, you’ll find all you need to know on our fantastic video-based course, from how to prepare good soil to how to sow seeds, and how to nurture and harvest your plants.

Our interactive, online course has been devised, written and presented by the prolific author, broadcaster and organic gardener, Alys Fowler, whose approach could be defined as “low effort, high productivity”.

The course is full of good sense and grounded advice. Alys rejects the hard work of digging, for example, in favour of mulching, which encourages the worms, who do the digging for you. She sees nothing wrong in buying young plants from the garden centre rather than growing everything from seed. She’ll show you how to make compost. She’ll explain the principles of good gardening, so students will gain a real understanding of why they are doing things in a certain way.

You will learn how a small space can be surprisingly productive.

Alys will show you how to care for your growing plants, how to harvest your food and finally how to preserve the food you have grown.

The course is divided into four chronological parts, each divided into two sections. You will be taken through a gardening year, from early spring to late summer. It consists of eight half hour films, shot in Alys’s allotment and in her back garden, 30 pages of notes, and a community forum where you can put questions to Alys directly.


Parts One and Two: Spring

Alys gives clear instructions to the novice on what to do in April.

Part One: Soil. How to create fantastic soil using cardboard and old plants. How to encourage worms and increase fertility. How to make compost. Length: 30 minutes.

Part Two: Seeds and seedlings. How to sow seeds on the windowsill. The principles of germination. Buying young plants. Planting outside. Sowing outside. Feeding. Pests, diseases and other troubles. Length: 38 minutes.

Parts Three and Four: Early Summer

Alys gives clear instructions to the novice on what to do in May and June.

The Cloche.  Protecting your growing herbs and vegetables from weather, pests, diseases and other troubles. Planting.

Parts Five and Six: Late Summer

Alys gives clear instructions to the novice on what to do in July and August:

Growing tender crops, feeding regimes, pruning and preparing for winter salads and other crops.

Parts Seven and Eight: Autumn into Winter

Alys gives clear instructions to the novice on what to do in September and October:

Last sowings of the year. How to harvest, store and preserve your bounty.

About the tutor

Alys Fowler is a gardener with twenty years experience. She grows her own herbs and vegetables from her allotment and back garden. She is the author of several books including The Thrifty Gardener (2007), The Edible Garden (2010), The Thrifty Forager (2011), Abdundance: How to Store and Preserve Your Garden Produce (2013) and Hidden Nature: A Voyage of Discovery (2017). Alys contributes to the Guardian (see her columns here). Alys trained at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.