Growing your own vegetables might seem complicated but actually by following these easy steps you will be amazed what you can achieve with a bit of time, effort and patience.
1. FIND THE RIGHT SPOT
Have a good look around your garden and pick the best area to start growing. Some vegetables need full sun and some prefer semi shade (which still means sun for at least 50% of the day). You can even use large pots if you don’t have much garden space.
2. WHAT KIT DO I NEED?
You don’t need anything fancy. A trowel, hand fork, hoe and garden fork should be enough. Also a watering can or hose for watering.
3. CHOSE WHICH VEGETABLES YOU WANT TO GROW
There is such a variety that you are best to focus on the vegetables that tend to be expensive in the shops (tomatoes) or that go off quickly (lettuce and herbs being prime examples). Of course, choose the ones that you love the most. We’ve listed some below that are our favourites and easiest to grow.
4. SEEDS OR PLUG PLANTS?
You can either grow plants from seed or buy ready established plug plants. Both can be bought from the garden centre or online.
• Seeds are cheaper but you will need to start earlier – from January onwards if starting them off on a sunny windowsill indoors or April onwards if you’re sowing directly into the soil outside. If starting them on a windowsill then they should be ready to transfer to outside after a month, although you will need to acclimatise them to the outdoors by putting them in the garden during the day (and bringing them in a night) for the week before you plant them outside.
• Plug plants are easier (but more expensive) and you can plant them directly outside from May onwards.
5. PREPARE THE VEG BED
• Dig over the area and remove any weeds and large stones.
• While you’re digging break up the soil so it is fine – there should be no big lumps in it. If you’re finding it difficult to break it up, then it could be that it is either too cold or too wet so you will need to wait until the weather improves.
• Now add some peat free compost (about 3cm all over) and lightly dig it in.
• If you’ve planting seeds, then once you’ve prepared the soil make a shallow trough in the soil with either your finger or a stick. It should be about 1cm deep. Sprinkle the seeds sparingly into the trough and gently cover the seeds with soil. Water gently.
• If you’re planting plug plants, then dig holes slightly bigger than the plug. Look at the instructions on the plant label for how far apart to space them – every plant is different. Backfill the soil and gently press around the plant to make secure. Water thoroughly.
• Don’t forget to label your plants/seeds.
6. DECIDE ON WHAT TO GROW There’s such a huge variety to choose from but here are a few suggestions:
• Carrots, lettuce, French beans, spring onions, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, herbs and radishes – these can all be grown either from seed or bought as plug plants
• Tomatoes and courgettes – be sure to choose blight resistant varieties if growing tomatoes outdoors. Start them off on a sunny windowsill indoors in March and then transfer to outdoors when they have 2 pairs of leaves which should be approximately one month after sowing.
• Basil and chives – an easy hack for theses herbs is to buy the fresh herb pots from the supermarket. Make sure the soil is moist so they are easy to split into smaller plugs and then plant directly in the garden.
it’s really important that you water the seedlings and plants every day. The best time to water is early in the morning as this discourages the slugs and snails and avoids leaf scorch (when the sun shines onto water droplets on the leaves). Remember to only water the seedlings gently as you don’t want to wash them away. Once they establish into plants if you keep them well watered you will definitely see the benefit.
8. SLUGS AND SNAILS
The enemy of the vegetable grower! Best time to catch these critters is after dusk so go out at this time every day and pick them off.
9. NOT GOT THE SPACE?
Not got the space for a dedicated veg bed? Then just plant in between the plants you’ve already got in existing flower beds. Or buy some peat free compost, cut holes in the bag and plant directly into it.
10. DON’T HAVE A GARDEN?
Then consider a window box. Lettuce and herbs grow really well in window boxes.
11. WHEN CAN I EAT THE VEG?
Harvest times will vary depending on the plant and the weather so refer to the seed packet/plant label instructions
I hope you’ve found this helpful and you go on to discover the joy (and bragging rights!) of growing and eating your own vegetables.
If you would like help designing and building your own vegetable garden then have a look at how we can help you here
Good luck and happy growing.