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How to grow fruit and vegetables
How to grow vegetables
Whether you have a full-blown vegetable patch, a garden, a balcony or a sunny spot in your kitchen, there are ways to grow vegetables in any living space. Growing your own vegetables is an amazing family activity and so rewarding seeing your own veg blossom. Not to mention, the delicious flavours and the convenience of having ingredients grown in your own space! Seriously, fresh veggies from the ground have flavour that trumps anything you could buy in the supermarket.
So how do you get started? And what can you grow in pots, what can you grow in winter and what are the best vegetables for beginners? We’ve got your full guide to growing veg for beginners.
The basics – Getting started growing fruit and vegetables
1. Evaluate your space
Be realistic about what you can plant in the space that you have. Whether you have put aside a part of your garden, you have a vegetable patch or you have some pots on your balcony, make sure you are realistic about what you can grow. Your veggies will suffer if you cram too many into the small space.
2. Pick 2-3 beginners vegetables
Once you’ve picked the best place for your veggies, make sure you pick simple ones to start with. We’ve got a list of beginner veggies below. The thing to know about vegetables is that they all do have slightly different requirements – so sticking to the simple ones will mean you have a higher chance of veggie success.
3. Pick a sunny location
Make sure you plant your veggies in a location that is in the reach of plenty of sunlight. Plants and vegetables need sun to thrive – so find the sunniest spot for the best harvest.
4. Buy good soil
The second thing vegetables need to grow is plentiful soil, where they can spread their roots and gather goodness to grow. Enriching your soil with compost will also help.
5. Plant in a stable environment
Basically, don’t plant your vegetables where you are likely to get a lot of pooled rainwater or somewhere that is particularly windy. Plants don’t need these extra challenges to contend with.
6. Water properly
Over and under watering will both impact the growth of your plant, so make sure you understand how much your particular veggie needs.
7. Buy good quality seeds
Try to go for good quality seeds – these will inevitably produce better crop.
8. Plant and harvest at the right time
All veggies have a prime time for planting and a prime time for picking/harvesting. Make sure you get this right to get the best possible veg.
Which vegetables are best for beginners?
1. Salad leaves
Salad leaves bloom even in poor soil (although good quality soil is obviously preferable), so it is an excellent one to start with. It also is ready to eat 3-4 weeks after the seeds being sown! Aim to plant the seeds in the summer, and the plant will keep producing leaves until autumn time. Make sure the soil is well watered and cut the leaves whenever is required.
Once you’ve tried how sweet a pea is in your own crop, you might never go back to frozen bags! Peas are a cool crop and enjoy spring to summer temps in the UK. They need moist, fertile and well-drained soil to flourish and also grow upwards, so it is best to put up some a wire frame. Protect the crop whilst they are growing from animals and birds, and make sure you plant them in a weed free area. The peas can be harvested anytime between 11-15 weeks after sowing, depending on the pea variety.
3. Runner beans
Runner beans are climbers like peas, so do need plenty of room to grow and need the support from some kind of frame. Plant the seeds anytime between April to July to enjoy a harvest 2 months later. These need to be well watered, and if you keep picking the pods when they are ripe, they will continue to produce more. Regular picking is essential!
Tomatoes are so quick, you can almost watch them bloom under your watchful eye, so are perfect for kids. They can also be cultivated in large pots. All they need is plant food and water to make them juicy, and ideally planted sometime between Feb to April. You can plant these in hanging baskets too.
5. Spring onions
Another one that can be grown in pots or hanging baskets. Plant between March and July and they’ll be ready in 8 weeks. They grow best in drained fertile soil.
How to grow vegetables in pots
Growing vegetables in pots is an excellent option if you are low on space – and growing in containers can still bring a plentiful harvest, if you know what you’re doing! The principles are very much the same in terms of picking a good spot, ensuring good fertile soil and keep your plants watered and fed as per the vegetable. The main two problems you may encounter with growing in pots, is your veggies drying out or having a lack of root space. The best way to get around these is to not overplant your pot – and to keep a very close eye on it to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
There are certain vegetables that grow better in containers or pots than others. These include beetroot, broad beans, carrots, herbs, lettuce, salad leaves, spring onions, spinach and even potatoes.
There are many pots and containers you can buy to help cultivate plants in smaller spaces, including the Juice+ Tower Garden, which gives you the tools you need to start growing 20 plants straight away. Take a look here.
How to grow your own organic vegetables
If you have grasped the basic concepts of growing vegetables in your garden, you may be considering how you can cultivate organic produce. The first thing to think about is using organic soil and mulch for the growth bed of your seeds – you can find this in most garden centres. Make sure you use an organic fertiliser, and you can also ensure your seedlings have come from an organic source.
How to grow vegetables in winter
You may think that spring, summer and autumn are the prime time for crops to grow – and indeed, this is the case for many vegetables. However, there are a few crops that can cope with the cold winter weather and might be a great option if you’re choosing to get stuck into growing your own produce over the winter months. It may be handy to have a greenhouse in these circumstances to prevent your veg from dying in frost or snow.
Veggies you can plant during the winter include:
• Spring onions
• Salad leaves
Hopefully this will give you the tools and inspiration to start thinking about what delicious produce you could make in your very own garden. You could use your own veg to make any of our Healthy Back to School Lunch ideas and remember you can see what fruit and veg is in season to buy with our Ultimate Season Calendar.
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