If you’ve ever tried home-grown vegetables, you’ll know how different the flavours are compared to veggies you buy from the average supermarket. This is organic growing at its very best. There’s nothing like picking your own veg from your garden and cooking it to perfection… all within the space of a few minutes.
If you are considering growing your own veg, you would be forgiven for finding the process a little daunting. However, you don’t need to start growing lots of things all at once. It’s best to start with one or two crops, and then make progress from there. It’s a learning curve, to be sure, but one you will undoubtedly enjoy.
Which vegetables are the easiest ones to grow?
One of the easiest and fastest crops to grow is salad leaves. There are a variety of them available, and you can buy mixed seeds to produce a nice mixed crop of leaves for salads. Spring onions and radishes are just as fast, taking only a few short weeks to go from seeds to ready-to-pick crops. You don’t need to plant them indoors to produce the seedlings either – you can sow the seeds directly into the bed where you want them to grow.
Another crop worth growing is mint, although you do have to be careful with this one as it grows rather too easily. Make sure it is contained in a pot so it doesn’t spread and take over the whole bed. If you try growing peas and/or potatoes as well (both good starter crops to try) you can add the fresh mint to them once they’re picked and cooked.
When considering which vegetables to grow, it makes sense to look at how much space you have available. Are you using an entire flowerbed or just one or two raised beds? Do you have a greenhouse available? Do you want to use just one small corner of your garden for growing veg or do you have much more space available? This will help you make the right decision on what to grow and where.
How and where to grow your own vegetables
The simplest answer would be to grow them in the ground. Even if you don’t have a bed you can use, you can always dig up a section of lawn or clear a flowerbed and use that.
However, while this is a practical and easy solution, it does have some downsides. Whenever you want to tend to your vegetables, you’ll have to get down on your knees to reach them. Furthermore, leaving your veggies exposed in a bed is not a good idea. There are far too many bugs and pests around – many of which would love a nice snack. It’s not uncommon to have flourishing cabbages one day… and nothing but remnants left the next.
So, how can you protect your vegetables?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can ensure your plants get off to the best start in your garden. A cold frame is a great way to protect plants and seedlings, and it prevents young plants dying when they are first transferred from the windowsill indoors out to your garden. A great example is the Hartwood overlap cold frame, as this is compact yet can accommodate a number of plants. The lid can easily be propped open to ensure the plants don’t sweat in hot weather, while the styrene glazing ensures they stay warm even on cooler days and nights.
Eventually, you’ll want to move your young plants into a flowerbed. The best option here is to go for raised beds, as they are much easier to reach. They look superb, too, and can enhance any garden. A half-sleeper raised bed provides ample room for several plants, and it can be positioned in a flowerbed or even on some decking or a patio area.
Some plants – especially tomatoes – benefit from being grown in a greenhouse. You can start with a mini greenhouse that takes up very little floor space, or you can get a proper walk-in greenhouse if you intend to grow several crops. A polycarbonate greenhouse can be purchased in several sizes to suit your needs. They usually have UV-protected panels, too, and they will keep your plants nice and warm when required.
Enjoy the proceeds of your hard work!
Growing veg is very rewarding, even before you get to taste the fruits (and veg) of your labours. The more you try, the more you’ll learn, and eventually you will find a selection of crops you enjoy growing and eating. Remember, you can share your crop with friends and family, too, so even if you get a glut you’ll rarely come up against the challenge of using it all.
What will you grow in your garden this year?