The 10 Commandments of a Grower

Alice Holden’s golden rules for growing your own

Photo credit: Nick Hand

After weeks of patient nurturing, summer is the time to reap the rewards of seeds sown in the spring. Growing your own is a uniquely fulfilling process — there is nothing quite like the taste of homegrown greens, fruit and vegetables, freshly picked and shared with friends. It is also a way of reconnecting with the natural world in a society where we have become increasingly detached from our food sources. Whether gathering your garden harvest or planting your first window box, these ten basic principles, taken from Do Grow, will be your guide.


  1. Diversity builds health
  2. Diversity builds resilience
  3. Remember the law of return — compost and cycle fertility
  4. Think for the future — invest in the soil and sow for the next season
  5. Observe nature and you will learn as you ‘Do’
  6. Use what you have — make waste useful and use the resources on your doorstep
  7. Adapt to your context — both its advantages and disadvantages
  8. Water is life — try to harness and preserve this precious resource
  9. Nurture your soil and it will nurture you
  10. Food is the way to people’s hearts
Illustration: Millie Marotta

Alice Holden, one of Britain’s most pioneering female growers, has spent her life outdoors working on small and large scales — from the kitchen gardens of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage to commercial farms. Currently she is head grower at Growing Communities, an award-winning social enterprise in Hackney, who run an organic box scheme, farmers’ market and urban food production sites.



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