Gardening has always been a pleasure for people from all walks of life. Whether you have a sprawling lawn or a tiny window box; tending plants, nurturing them through life and reaping the reward is a relaxing and fulfilling pastime. More recently, though, this passion has developed into a nationwide craze for home-grown vegetables.
Want to get started on your own plot? We’d certainly recommend it, as there’s just something special and satisfying about cooking up a hearty meal made from your own produce. It’s not as difficult as you think to grow a range of tasty vegetables, and we’ve got some tips to help you harvest a cracking crop.
To start with, you’ll want to put your seedlings in the sunniest spot you have. Sunshine will ensure you have disease-resistant plants as well as sweeter flavoured onions, carrots, tomatoes and chillies. Salads and fruit prefer the shade, which is really quick and easy to sort out with a bit of fencing.
Our next bit of advice is to follow the advice — on seed packets that is. Always use the guidelines, as you’ll get better results planting your seeds later — in the middle or towards the end of the recommended sowing time.
If you can, make your own compost using lawn clippings, green garden trimmings and kitchen peelings. Once composted, they help to feed your vegetables and in turn provide extra nutrition for you. Composting coffee grounds is an ideal example. They help to add nitrogen to a compost pile, and are beneficial to microorganisms that help plant growth. The coffee also acts as a repellent, keeping pests like slugs and snails away because the caffeine means they avoid the area.
Now you’re probably wondering what to plant first, so here are a few of our favourites:
Not actually a true artichoke, but a type of sunflower, the Jerusalem artichoke can grow well even on weedy ground. It’s a perennial, which means you can leave it in the soil year after year, and the earthy flavour is ideal for making soups.
Pumpkins are great first-year crops that smother weeds and need little looking after. They’re perfect for a great looking vegetable patch, and you’ll have plenty to carve come Halloween as well.
It’s hard to beat the flavour of fresh, home-grown peas. Be sure to plant them under row covers (any covering that shields your plants from weather and insects) to protect them, and enjoy harvesting your reward with a delicious spring salad.
Not only is it fun to grow your own vegetables, but it makes eating more enjoyable too. Home-grown food is important, so we promote British produce across all our sites. Also, through our Know Your Food programme, we bring you seasonal food information each month to help you enjoy delicious, well-sourced food. Happy growing…