An Invitation to ‘Pick All You Can Eat’
What to Plant in your Vegetable Plot
The first ’pick all you can eat’ lunch we had was completely by accident. All of my guests arrived before everything was prepared.
I was so pre-occupied with preparing the desserts that I ran out of time.
After my guests arrived, they wandered around my garden and took particular notice of my thriving vegetable plot. Feeling quite proud that everyone seemed to be admiring my green-fingered efforts, I suddenly had an idea. Instead of admitting that I was terribly behind in preparing lunch, I invited everyone to pick whatever they would like to eat!
This created an instant buzz of excitement in my garden; I had several happy helpers cutting lettuce and herbs, pulling radishes, digging up carrots and onions, and picking tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. They also seemed delighted to wash everything and arrange the salad in my serving dishes. Lunch was a complete success!
“Picking all you can eat” can deliver a huge amount of satisfaction to both the growers and the pickers. For me, the most rewarding thing about growing my own produce is to be able to share the goods. There are also enormous health benefits of growing such fresh, organic produce right out of the garden.
We’re not talking big scale gardening here; I have a fairly average-sized garden and am learning new skills all the time. Very early on, I learnt two important things: firstly you can grow a great deal of produce in a very small area and secondly it really is much easier than you might think.
Also, if this is all new to you, don’t be afraid to have a go. I was very pleased by the amount of success I had in my first year alone. So why not try growing your own produce and reap the rewards of eating and sharing it?
My first guests to enjoy my ‘pick all you can eat’ experience seemed pretty impressed and are still talking about it now. Most of them don’t grow their own veggies and they all enjoyed the wonderful fresh taste of produce that had been freshly picked. If you find you have picked too much produce, you will be surprised how long it will keep fresh in a fridge, much longer than supermarket produce.
By planting a few seeds or young plants, you too can enjoy the rewards of picking your own lettuce, herbs, radishes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers or more. What you decide to grow and how much you want to grow will of course depend upon the amount of available space you have in your garden. You don’t have to have a greenhouse or vegetable plot. Vegetables will grow quite happily alongside flowers in your border, as well as looking great. But even if you only have a small patio or balcony area to work with, you can still take part in the ‘pick all you can eat’ fun! You will be surprised at just how much you can grow in a few pots or a grow-bag.
If you don’t have space at ground level, there are many varieties of tomatoes that you can grow in hanging baskets. A good variety to grow is called ‘Tumbling Toms’. They grow in profusion as the name suggests, and their lovely splash of color looks fantastic. Strawberries are also a good hanging basket fruit to grow.
Start with Mixed Lettuce
Now of course, once you get started you will want to see some results pretty quickly, so I recommend you start with a packet of mixed lettuce seeds.
You will be harvesting your first crop within 4 weeks.
This mix includes lettuces, brassicas and Asian herbs and offers many different leaf textures in shades of greens and bronze. Various seeds in each pellet will germinate right around the same time, ensuring that they are all mature at the same time for a perfect harvest. In a couple of weeks, baby greens will be ready. New growth will regenerate in three weeks for a continual harvest and each planting can be harvested two to three times.
This mix of seeds is certified to be 100% Organic, free of genetically modified organisms, chemicals or pesticides. Create a delightful contrast of color, shape, taste and texture with this mix of Arugula, Osaka Purple Mustard Greens, Garden Cress, Red Russian Kale, Tres Fin Endive, Brune D'Hiver, Ruben's Red Romaine, Pirat Butter, Formidana and Simpson's Black Seeded.
Cut and Grow Again Lettuce
Growing an individual mix of lettuce leaves is far more fun than growing the traditional whole lettuce. A packet of seeds usually contain a superb mixture of loose-leaf lettuces with many leaf shapes and colours including reds and oak-leaf types. If you have the space it’s an idea to plant seeds at 4 weekly intervals to keep you going all summer. You can grow an enormous amount in an area of just one metre square. If you are limited on space, these seeds grow well in a pot. Don’t be tempted to plant loads of seeds, you just need a few. These plants can really spread!
One packet of seeds costing around $3.00 will probably be more than you can eat all through the summer. So, growing your own salad is pretty cost effective as well.
You simply pick the leaves as and when you want them and they just keep on growing!
Organic Potting Mix: ready to use.
Radishes Grow Easily
The radish is a very easy seed to grow, and is especially good for a first time planting. There are several different varieties to try, all of which are good. Radishes grow quickly, so if you plant them the same time as the lettuce they should both be ready at the same time.
Lettuce and radishes don’t need any special treatment. They are happy in any soil type. If you are planting in pots, containers or hanging baskets then I recommend using good potting compost.
Plant your seeds thinly and water regularly.
Perfect for hanging baskets, these seeds yield beautiful red cherry tomatoes within 70 days.
Tomatoes are Low Maintenance
There are many different varieties of tomatoes which can be grown in greenhouses, or outside in pots, grow-bags and hanging baskets.
So, choose the location and variety entirely to suit you.
If you are a first timer to growing tomatoes, I recommend growing ‘Tumbling Toms’ in a hanging basket.
Tumbling Toms can be grown from seed, or alternatively you can buy tomato plants from a nursery or garden centre.
This variety of tomatoes is very low maintenance. You don’t need to pinch out growing stems - just let them keep on tumbling!
When the first fruits start forming you can give them a tomato feed, just follow the instructions on the bottle.
Tomatoes smell and taste delicious picked straight from the vine.
Try these seeds for mini sweet bell peppers in 60 days. Most bell peppers can be harvested when they are still green, but when left to mature on the plant for a longer length of time, some peppers will turn shades of red, yellow or even purple.
Pick a Pepper
Peppers can grow from seed or as small plants obtained from a nursery or garden centre.
It is fascinating to watch peppers grow; as they get bigger they turn from green to yellow to red. As soon as the fruits start forming you can give them a feed once a week; a tomato feed is fine for peppers.
If you have a lot of small fruit forming, you can pick some of them off and the remaining peppers will then grow to larger fruit.
Cool as a Cucumber
Cucumbers are absolutely delicious picked straight from the vine!
Also, they are surprising easy to grow. Please read my hub about Growing Cucumbers for some nice easy growing tips.
I wish you happy planting, eating and sharing!