The Grow Guide

Erica McKoy

Erica’s radio career started at the iconic London venue, the Roundhouse in 2010. It was at 15 that she started to develop her presenting, voice over and audio production skills. Erica found Transmission Roundhouse (formerly known as Roundhouse Radio), and pitched for a show. From there she was able to build her award winning show The Elektrik CaveThe Elektrik Cave was the beginning of her organically growing a strong listenership of like minded diggers of everything from UK bass culture to American Jazz, South African House and everything in between and around.

A New Way to Garden

Amid the gloom of lockdown, many of us have taken solace in nature, finding comfort and connection in our gardens or daily walks. Without the pressures of the normal hustle and bustle of city life we are truly able to appreciate the seasons transformations’.

Recently, we discovered an amazing website called the The Grow Guide which has us experimenting with our green thumbs. To say we are hooked would be an understatement! The Grow Guide is a project developed by Erica McKoy, a broadcaster, presenter, writer and DJ from London. Each month Erica shares a curated Spotify playlist based on one of the vegetables she’s planting in her garden and, more recently, The Grow Guide has branched out to include a seed subscription box and an online journal offering excellent advice, from utilising the space in your house for seedlings and up-cycling containers to must-have gardening tools.

How did you come up with the concept of The Grow Guide, from merging music and nature to crafting an eco-friendly and seasonal seed box for everyone to enjoy?

The Grow Guide started as an Instagram page, a way to archive how my vegetables grow. But also a way of getting to the root of where the vegetables I grow come from via the sounds and music of the region. I’ve always been part of an international community, whether that’s from my friendship groups or the radio stations I work with. I just wanted to explore and understand more about the origins of some of the food I was consuming. Honestly, it all blows my mind. Dwarf French Beans, you’d think come from France. They don’t. Their origins are in South America. 

Can you tell us a little about your relationship with growing your own food and how you individually approach sustainability?

Sustainability is obviously a huge buzzword at the moment, but it’s something that leads the way I run The Grow Guide. When I came up with the idea for The Grow Guide as an actual business, sustainability was what would guide us. If I was going to put anything out into the world, I want it to be of high quality, and for people to know that we’ve done everything we can to make sure they can shop in a mindful and earth friendly way. In my personal life, I’ve been known to use those clinky metal bottles, bamboo toothbrushes, and a menstrual cup. It’s something I care about a lot.

Has gardening always been in your blood or is this a new-found passion?

I guess it’s in all of us. It comes pretty naturally to many of us, but we’ve become so far removed from getting outside and touching soil, we sometimes forget that the earth nourishes us all the time. It was actually a DJ friend of mine who would tell me about his garden and how he was growing some Japanese seeds, he definitely gave me the push I needed to just get outdoors and grow. It kind of escalated from there!

Whether beets, cabbage or kale, how do you go about picking what songs best represent certain vegetables? Do the melodies come naturally to you and what is your artistic process when you are creating your playlists?

So the first stop is the region. I’ll listen to everything from Folk, to Jazz, Hip Hop and Soul. I listen to a range of music from that region, new and old and I piece it together much like I do my radio shows. 

For those of us who are gardening novices, can you recommend a great vegetable for us to start out with?

A great one to start with is the Dwarf French Bean. I absolutely promise I’m not saying it just to promote this month’s Grow Guide box, but it is absolutely one of the easiest and fastest producing vegetables. When picked at the right time, the beans are sweet and fresh. I usually cook them so they become this vibrant green, and still have a slight crunch to it. Such a simple vegetable but I absolutely love them. Plus they’re great for kids, I gave my six year old niece some last year and she became fascinated by it all. So if she can do it, anyone can.