Have A Go At Growing Your Own Food
Bringing In The Harvest
The Benefits of Growing Your Own
There is no mystery to growing vegetables. They are just plants like any others so if you have grown house plants or bedding plants for your garden or window box why not try growing something you can eat.
The grow-your-own habit is becoming increasingly popular with increasing numbers of us realising we can produce guaranteed organic produce with zero food miles at a fraction of the cost of supermarket foods. In addition to the nutritional and cost benefits spending time outside is the perfect antidote to a week tied to a desk or an office and an ideal project for parents and children to do together.
These are some examples of low maintenance veggies that are perfect for getting beginners started and building confidence. Once in the soil they will pretty much look after themselves until you are ready to gather in your harvest.
Easy To Grow Onions & Garlic
Onions and garlic are ideal for starters because they are easy to grow and always useful in the kitchen:
- They don’t need masses of space and are fairly pest-resistant because of their strong taste.
- Onions are usually grown from onion ‘sets’ rather than seeds, which look a bit like large garlic cloves, and come in packets of 50 to 75.
- Plant them about 2 cm deep (make sure they are the right way up) 12 to 15 cm apart in rows.
- Plant onions in the spring for a midsummer crop.
- Once the leaves have started to die back and the onion is visible above ground it is ready to harvest.
- Garlic is similar to onion except it comes in whole bulbs which are broken up into individual cloves and then planted in the same way as onion sets.
- They can go in the ground earlier than the onions, January or February or even in the autumn and are ready to harvest when the foliage has died back in late summer.
- Onions and garlic also act as natural pest repellents because of their strong smell so planting them in between will help to keep to keep bugs away from more vulnerable crops.
- They can also be dotted around flower border if there isn’t room for a veggie patch.
- They don’t take up much space and are not over-leafy so they won’t crowd out flowers, although they might over-power all but the strongest scents!
- Store them in a dry place. They will form their trademark flaky skin which will preserve them until you need them.
Plenty of Space? Try Potatoes
- Potato plants take up a little more space than onions and garlic but seem to be able to repel slugs just as effectively so need little attention once they are in the ground.
- Buy a bag of seed potatoes and lay them out in a cool, ventilated place until they have sprouted nice sturdy shoots about an inch long.
- Plant them 10 cm deep at least 30 cm apart.
- Given enough space they can be planted in stages, from early spring to early summer giving home-grown potatoes all the way through summer and autumn.
- They are ready to dig up after the plants have finished flowering, but they don’t seem to mind being left in the ground if you are not ready to use them immediately.
Make Space For Your Own Salad
Windowsills or Balconies
- If this is going to be an indoor project, sweet peppers, chilli peppers, lettuce and tomatoes are happy in pots and don’t take up too much space.
- Stand the pots on a saucer to make watering easier and don’t let them get too dry.
- Garden Centres often sell cut-and-come-again lettuce which works well for small families that struggle to get through a bag of supermarket salad before it starts to wilt.
- Once the chillies have ripened, wash, chop and pack them away in the icebox.
- Radishes are an ideal project for children because they grow so quickly, as little as five weeks from seed to salad.
- Finally if there is space for a hanging basket look out for the trailing varieties of strawberries.
Most importantly grow what you like and are going to eat. It’s pointless having mountains of rhubarb growing vigorously if you absolutely hate it, it makes more sense to grow more of the things you do like. If you have more than you can eat freeze it for later in the year or swop with your neighbors. Not everything you try will work but, like everything in life, chalk it up to experience and try something else.
You won’t regret it!
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