The growing season is in full swing and growing your own fruit and veg is a lot easier than you think. Whether you have space for a few pots or room for a polytunnel there are a number of edibles you can grow, from quick sprouting salad and spinach to potatoes and peas growing your own can be a wonderful experience for all the family and tastes wonderful! Here are our top tips for creating the best produce for the table.
Prepare the soil
Be it in pots or raised beds good soil is essential for produce growing. Ensure the soil is light and sandy if you want to grow your carrots straight, dig in manure before planting to create a rich soil for the plants to feed in and water regularly. When preparing the soil ensure there aren’t any potatoes lurking in the soil from last year – they seem to spread everywhere and pop up again and again!
Start seeds off
You don’t need a fancy propagator or greenhouse to start seeds off, nor do you need a window ledge bursting with pots, simply buy a plastic storage box, put your pots with seeds in it (the biodegradable pots are the best as you can simple plant in the soil) and put the lid on. A readymade mini greenhouse!
Don’t plant everything at once
Although slightly more time consuming; whether growing from seed or buying young plants from the garden centre; buy (or sow) 1 or 2 plants every couple of weeks of the same species. This will ensure a vegetable crop that ripens over a couple of weeks and doesn’t result in a mass abundance of one time of veg.
Support young plants
Leggy plants like beans, artichokes and sunflowers break easily so tether them to poles whilst young to encourage growth. Use trellises for climbing varieties or poles for single stalks – there is also no need to buy bamboo poles – why not hunt for long sticks to use for a more rustic look? Don’t forget to tie loosely to the poles to allow for growth.
Don’t forget to rotate
If you’re a keen grower and want to do the same next year don’t plant the same vegetables in the spots they were last year – some species drain the soil of nutrients and nitrates which can produce weak and failing crops the year after if in the same patch. Rotate your crops to ensure maximum growth.
Plan your bed
Consider sun movement and height of mature plants when planning your beds; planting peas or beans at the front could shade the rest of the bed when fully grown. Consider how you are going to pick the crops – ensuring there is adequate access around each crop is essential if you don’t want to climb around your vegetable patch!
If in abundance swap,freeze or pickle!
If you have an abundance of one type of crop and to save wastage’ freeze raw, blanch or cooked fruit and veg or create chutneys and pickles from them that will last a good long time and make wonderful gifts all year round. Another option is to produce swap with someone if they have an abundance of produce too!