Potatoes are top of the crops for 'grow-your-own' gardeners

Potatoes are the most popular crop for gardeners and allotment holders growing their own food, according to the first survey of its kind since the Second World War.

Thousands of harvests have been logged by scientists from the University of Sheffield in the MYHarvest project which aims to reveal the most plentiful fruit and vegetables grown across the UK by green-fingered amateurs.

The national "grow-your-own" survey, which is examining the contribution it makes to national food security, is the first since the Dig for Victory campaign in the Second World War, the researchers said.

The first set of results, based on data from almost 700 people signed up to the MYHarvest project, reveals that the most plentiful crops by weight are potatoes, courgettes, apples and tomatoes.

Strawberries are the most productive crop in terms of how much growers get from a given area, followed by plums and currants.

Potatoes are grown by most people, followed by courgettes and French or climbing beans, according to the research which was launched last year and runs until the end of March 2019.

Other popular crops include raspberries, broad beans, peas and tomatoes, while some people branch out with crops ranging from sweetcorn to Brussels sprouts and even trained apples and plums.

Researchers are calling for more people to sign up to the citizen science project, which they hope will reveal how much allotment and garden space the UK will need in the future for the growing number of people in cities and towns.

Dr Jill Edmondson, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: "Almost 10,000 harvests have been recorded so far which equates to nearly 33 tonnes of own-grown fruit and vegetables - that's heavier than six elephants.

"MYHarvest is helping us to build up a comprehensive picture of how gardeners and allotment holders contribute to UK food security and sustainability.

"With over 80% of the UK population living in cities or towns that are currently dependent on imported fruit and vegetables, it is important to understand how we can make our cities and towns even more sustainable."

MYHarvest is part of a wider research project looking at whether there are any barriers, such as pollutants in the soil, to using urban green areas to increase the amount of land used for own-grown food production.

- To take part or for more information, visit: myharvest.org.uk

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