When three green-fingered Sussex sisters started a blog four years ago, they had little clue of the interest it would generate.
But fast forward to 2021 and ‘The3Growbags’, whose motto is ‘three old girls who like to garden and love to laugh’, have proved to be an internet sensation.
Tens of thousands of people have logged in over the past year for a gardening campaign – dubbed the DigYourOwnaForCorona sessions – which have given beginners a crash course in growing their own food to help survive lockdown.
Now, following the success of their growing website and social media, the trowel-happy trio, Elaine, Laura and Caroline Rham, have put pen to paper and published their very first book, Beginner’s veg ….easier to grow than you think.
Much in the vein of popular hit TV show The Good Life, the book gives people simple tips on how to grow your own vegetables and be more self-sufficient, whether you have a back garden, a balcony or window sill for your growing space.
Middle sister Laura, a farmer’s wife, said: “When we started this blog, we were just three sisters having fun and sharing our love of gardening. We had no idea it would grow, grow and grow! But, at our more ‘mature’ stage in life, it’s certainly been a wonderful journey for us to go on together.
“Our gardening experiences come from such a wide range of locations that we have followers from all over Britain, northern France and even America.”
Youngest sister Caroline, a former journalist, added: “A lot of gardening advice blogs can be a bit worthy and I think people prefer ours as we don’t take ourselves too seriously!
“We offer sound gardening tips from herbaceous borders to balcony gardening all laced with a good dose of family banter.”
Part of the success of the ‘The3Growbags’ is the undeniable chemistry between the sisters, who hail from Barns Green in West Sussex where their father, Geoffrey Rham was a local vet.
After attending Horsham High School for Girls, all three set off on very different careers, married and had children, but reunited to set up their weekly gardening blog.
Caroline lives in Scotland, Elaine in Eastbourne (with a family retreat in Normandy), while Laura now lives on a farm near Horsham in West Sussex with her seven dogs.
TV presenter Fern Britton, who is a fan of the sisters, writes the foreword in the new book.
Eldest sister Elaine, a retired classics teacher, said: “We were already close before, but I think we’ve grown even closer thanks to The3Growbags. It’s been our link through the pandemic when we’ve not been able to see as much of each other.
“We’re really proud of our first book together. It’s difficult to read a phone screen in the bright sunlight of your garden and we knew people were trying to download and print off the advice to take it outside, so we thought why not pull it all together in one handy pocket-book?
“Fern Britton has been just brilliant and was kind enough to write a lovely foreword to the book.
“It’s great fun to watch vegetables and herbs grow – and even better to enjoy such fresh produce at the dinner table and cut out the plastic packaging!
“We hope more people than ever will have a go at growing their own this year.
“We’ll be here to help them every step of the way – with lots of laughter and a little dash of sibling rivalry too of course!”
One of the sisters’ followers, Jean Beresford, said: “Thank you for all the straightforward, easy-to-follow advice on growing vegetables, and especially growing pea shoots on a window ledge indoors in winter. Would never have thought of that. Feeling confident!”
Beginner’s Veg – Easier to Grow Than You Think is available on Amazon and at The3Growbags.com/shop It’s priced £8.99 including free P&P to anywhere in the UK.