Many of us want to grow our own vegetables this year in some small or big way and now’s a good time to plan. Not only should we plan what to grow but also where to grow them. Because, with a bit of thought, you’ll be able to maximise what you grow whilst helping to keep your crops healthy. So use these tips to grow the right vegetables to create your favourite recipes.
Vegetables are normally grouped into 4 main types grown in what’s known as a rotation system. Crop rotation simply means growing the crop in a different part of the veg garden each year. This helps stop a build-up of pests and diseases in the soil.
The main groups are:
- LEGUMES (mainly beans and peas),
- BRASSICAS (mainly leafy crops like cabbage, cauliflower & spinach) &
- ROOTS (mainly edible root crops such as carrots, beetroots, turnips)
- with a fourth group earmarked for potatoes.
The idea being that you follow crops of one group with crops of another the following year.
Grow your own lunch
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to grow your vegetables for your recipes, a fun way to get the whole family involved is to divide the growing areas into sections for growing the main ingredients of a favourite family meal!
How about growing your own burger toppings? Tomato, lettuce, onion & even gherkins!
In this scheme the onions are grown around the tomato and gherkin plants and lettuce sown round the edges of the onions. Lettuce are the quickest crop out of this selection ready to harvest so it makes sense to grown them around the edges.
If you choose ‘cut and come again’ lettuce varieties, you can pick leaves from the lettuce to have with salads whilst you wait for the other burger toppings to ripen ready to harvest.
Choose a cordon rather than bush tomato variety as they grow tall and narrow. Therefore, both tomato and gherkin plants could be tied onto an obelisk or some form of other narrow upright growing structure.
Outdoor pizza ovens are becoming more and more popular. So whether you have an outdoor pizza oven, or just love a homemade pizza night, you’ll want to do this. A great idea is to set aside a circular area for growing pizza toppings ingredients sown in triangular strips within the circle to look like the shapes of pizza slices.
The sort of toppings you could grow together could be tomatoes, garlic, basil, chillies and spinach. Also, to make it more visually appealing, outline the circle and each ’pizza slice’ area with gravel or stones.
Pick ’n mix salad bar
You can really go to town here with a big selection of salad ingredients!
Carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, spring onions, cucumber, chives, radish, rocket, beetroot, and even new potatoes can all be grown in your garden.
Grown in containers, you can form the basis of a tasty, nutritional salad bar for all the family to come out and help themselves to!
For that extra special touch add a couple of nasturtium plants to each box. Not only are the flowers and leaves edible, adding a delicious peppery taste to the salad mix, they also help deter pests from the other salad crops.
Surely there can be nothing more nutritious than a soup made from your own home grown veg! Here are a few combinations that can be put together:
Carrot and coriander
You can succession sow both carrots and coriander seeds throughout the growing season.
However, bear in mind that carrots germinate better when the soil is warmer and coriander like to be given plenty of space and water.
If you want to make soup or tomato paste for your pizza toppings, then it’s best to choose a ‘beefsteak’ variety as this produces extra-large tomatoes.
You can add lots to this one, carrots, peas, onions, courgettes, beans and of course tomatoes!
As the basis of most soups is a large onion, when you’re planning this year’s veg do make sure you grow lots of onions as they can be dried and stored for use throughout the whole year.
So, plan which vegetables to grow as ingredients for favourite recipes and you’ll never look back.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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