Grow your own veg – which veg?

Grow your own veg

To grow your own veg is a fantastic money-saving idea, with the obvious benefits that you will have a plentiful supply of tasty, nutritious, organic vegetables throughout the year – great for your health as well as your wallet!  So, now you’ve got your plot, your ground is prepared and you’re ready to go.  That’s the hard work done, now the fun stuff begins.  Time to start growing!  But how do you decide what vegetables to start with?

The important thing is not to try to do everything at once in your first year – self sufficiency is a great idea, but you don’t want to become overwhelmed and give up before you’ve really got going.  Start with a manageable selection and you’ll be more likely to keep it up.  As you gain experience and knowledge of how to grow your own veg you can build up the number and variety of plants you produce. Secondly – choose vegetables that you and your family will enjoy to eat!  Sounds obvious, but you don’t want to end up with armfuls of aubergines if no-one in your family enjoys them.  Grow your favourites and you’ll get much more pleasure out of the process.

Here are a few easy options for beginners:

 

Salad leaves

These are a great option – easy to grow, and can be grown in a variety of places – in pots, planters, or directly in your vegetable bed.  If you sow seeds at monthly intervals throughout the summer, you’ll have an uninterrupted supply of salad leaves into the autumn!  You can grow them on a ‘cut and come again’ basis, where you pick only the outer leaves of the salad, not the whole plant, and it continues to grow and produce new leaves.

Simply sprinkle the seeds onto a pot full of well-watered compost in a greenhouse or on a windowsill (early spring) or direct onto your prepared veg plot (late spring), and cover with a fine layer of compost over the seeds. Keep watered, and in a few weeks you should have a bumper crop of salad leaves.

 

Peas

Peas can be sown straight into the ground in early spring, and will be ready to harvest in 3-4 months.  They need fairly warm soil, so if you’re sowing early, you could cover the soil with polythene for a while before you plant the seeds.  They need sunny conditions and nutrient-rich soil.

Plant the seeds at a depth of around 2”, about 2-4” apart.  When they grow to about 3” high, push in stakes next to the seedlings, to provide support as they grow.  Once the peas are ready, pick them regularly from the bottom of the plant upwards.

 

Carrots

Almost everyone loves a carrot! As long as the soil is well prepared then they’re quite simple to grow.  Carrots like a light soil with lots of well-rotted compost, so make sure you’ve done your preparation before planting, but don’t worry about feeding them once they’re planted, as you want to encourage the root to grow rather than the greenery.

You can plant outside from April/May to July (wait until there’s no longer a risk of frost).  You should dig out a narrow drill (channel) about ¾” deep and sprinkle in the seeds sparingly – about 1 every half inch.  This will prevent you from having to do too much thinning out of the seedlings later on. Then you should cover the seeds with fine soil and water carefully with a fine spray, to avoid washing the seeds away.  If you’re planting more than one row, keep the rows about 8” apart. When the seedlings are about 1” high, begin thinning them out to about 8” apart. It is best to do this in the evening so that you don’t attract carrot fly, and firm the disturbed soil back down so that they aren’t tempted to lay their eggs there!  Your lovely carrots will be ready to harvest between August and October.

 

Tomatoes

This is a fantastically rewarding crop to grow, and this year six plants kept our tomato-loving family of four going until October with salads, pasta sauces, fresh soups… I could go on.  We had three plants of regular sized tomatoes, and three of deliciously sweet baby plum tomatoes.  At the end of the season when the frosts start and the fruit no longer ripen, you can make green tomato chutney that will see you through to next year.

It’s best to sow your seeds in pots indoors or in a greenhouse, as they hate frost.  You can then leave them in your greenhouse over the summer (remember to give them plenty of water) or you can get outdoor varieties that will grow quite happily in a sunny sheltered spot in the garden.  Sow 1-2 seeds in small 3” pots and lightly cover with compost.  Keep watered until they emerge, and re-pot into larger pots when the seedlings are big enough to handle.  They are ready to go into their final position – either large pots inside or outside, or your veg plot – after about 7-8 weeks – they should be at least 6” high. If moving them outside, get them used to outdoor living by leaving them out during the daytime only for the first two weeks (this is called hardening off).  Provide strong stakes to support the growing plants, don’t allow them to dry out or the fruit can split (but don’t let them get waterlogged either), and feed with tomato feed fortnightly once fruits are being produced.  You should pinch out any side shoots that start to grow in the ‘V’ between the main stem and the leaf stems – just pull them out with your fingers – to stop too much foliage being produced at the expense of fruit.

 

Some products you might like …

Seed collection - easy salad leaves

Seed collection - salad leaves

 

Roma Tomato seeds

Roma tomato seeds

Pea seeds

Pea seeds - Kelvedon Wonder

 

Carrot seeds

Carrot seeds - Autumn King

 

10 biodegradable pots 9cm

10 biodegradable pots 9cm

Speak Your Mind

*