Growing vegetables is great fun, and of course you can reap the rewards of tasty, fresh produce all year round. If you are struggling to know what to grow for your type of garden, then here are a few recommendations, hints and tips.
Growing vegetables can be a fantastic way of learning about nature, the cycle of plants, and introducing the stages of a plant from seed to plant to flower to fruit and then seed again. Not only an alternative way of learning, watching and nurturing plants can be very rewarding. Some plants are very easy to grow from seed – here are a couple of examples you could try:
Beetroots are a fantastic, healthy vegetable and are great for those who are new to vegetable gardening. They are perfect for planting in the New Year, as they do best after a harsh winter and before the mid-summer. For the best results sow beetroot little and often.
Harvest the roots when they are young and roughly the size of a golf ball. Did you know, you can also eat the leaves! Therefore it is possible for you to enjoy beetroot all year round.
They are easy to grow and have a quick turnaround time. In only four weeks from sowing you should be able to harvest and enjoy beautiful home-grown radishes. Sow radishes every two weeks in fertile moist soil to enjoy a crunch in your salads.
Herbs are great for kids to grow as they interact with their senses. The sense of smell is incredible with varieties like mint, rosemary, sage, oregano, and many more.
Even if you have a tiny garden you can still enjoy fresh vegetables all year round. There are some fantastic seeds that will thrive without taking up much room at all. You can grow strawberry varieties in a hanging basket likewise tomatoes, look out for varieties which trail. You can grow potatoes in dustbins, lettuce in tyres, and most herbs in pots.
Start them indoors around February and March. Did you know that only a couple of plants will reward you with lots of tasty tomatoes through the summer? Try planting a favourite with the kids such as Cherry Tomatoes, or if you’re feeling adventurous try growing the giant full-flavoured beefsteak tomato. Your plants will flourish perfectly in nine inch pots and will provide your garden with a burst of colour.
Beans prefer warmer weather so they do best when planted directly into the warm ground. They enjoy having something to climb. Beans are great for beginners and if they are picked they will produce for weeks!
Top Tip: Check your beans for insects (beetles in particular). They can be picked off by hand or sprayed with soapy water.
Re-green your front garden. Look at the space available to you – why not use it for growing some fresh fruit in between your flowers? Red, black and white currents are great in a shrub border, and so are blue berries, raspberries and small apple trees. It has been proven that home grown fruit is healthier and it’s cheaper to do it yourself!
Spinach grows well in cool weather. If you want a large quantity you have to plant lots! It can be harvested just the same as lettuce by picking the largest leaves or cutting it back to around one inch. Cutting back spinach back ensures it will grow back several times throughout the season. Spinach is a very versatile – try it in an omelette, it’s delicious.
Growing vegetables is a fantastic way to socialise with your neighbours, and you can share recipe ideas and meals made from the produce grown. Growing your own also allows you to monitor what exactly goes into your food.
Cucumbers are flexible in their growing requirements and can grow quite happily in containers and raised beds. As long as there is warm weather, lots of sunshine (6-8 hours per day is recommended), and lots of water, a cucumber will grow.
Ensure your cucumbers won’t become bitter by keeping the soil evenly moist!
Plants which produce ingredients for soups are also ideal so you can collectively nourish your fellow community gardeners as you grow. Plants such as, pumpkin. squash, potato, leek, carrot and many more are perfect for this.
For further information and help on planning what to grow and when, visit David Domoney’s Vegetable Planting Calendar and remember to enter your garden project into Cultivation Street!