Priestgate

It seems that prices rarely go down.

It is therefore probably right to assume that food prices will continue to go up ——- so why not grow your own veg ?

And you’re maybe thinking of all of that back-breaking digging that you’ll have to do – and all the wheelbarrows full of manure you’ll have to move – and the weeding – and the watering – and the pests and diseases ……………….. and all for a few beans ?

Well, it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m not writing this blog to those avid allotment owners who devote many long and enjoyable hours in the company of other avid allotment owners. I’m aiming at people who may well have a small, modern-day garden which can offer a bit of space in a sunny part of the garden, in which you could grow a few of the things you like most. And I know you’ve heard it a million times before, BUT – they really do taste better when you’ve grown them yourself.

So —- what could I grow – I’ve never grown anything before – what if I get it wrong ……………. etc., etc.. Well the truth is, if you follow a few simple steps, you don’t have to grow them, because they grow themselves

But before we look at what we could grow, importantly we must look at where we will grow our award-winning vegetables ! Now I’m using this image merely to show how much stuff you can grow in a tiny area. I doubt that the useable area of these raised beds is any more than 2 metres X 0.75 metres , but look how much is growing in each one !! I do think that using a raised bed like this is the best way to start off because it’s small, free draining, easy to look after and importantly you don’t have to tread on it as you can reach every part of it from the edge. So start off by creating a small raised bed. Make sure that you dig the bottom of it before adding further soil to undo any compaction that may be there. Then you’re ready to choose your seeds or ready-grown plants. If you only had two such beds, then I reckon you wouldn’t need more than a border fork, and garden trowel and a watering can.

So here is my Top Ten of the easiest things to grow. Once you have done your preparation work so you’re ready when the Spring comes along, then I’m sure you will have success and fun with any of these suggestions.

Spring Onions. Simply sow thinly from seed in a shallow drill and lightly cover.

Courgettes are very popular and easy to grow. Once they start cropping, 3 plants will keep the average size family supplied for the Summer.

Cabbage needs some netting protection from ‘Cabbage White’ Butterflies, whose caterpillars will eat them given the chance. If you can achieve that then you will be rewarded for you effort.

Lettuces. This is a ‘Cos’ Lettuce. Other types are available. Again, sow thinly and they’ll be harvestable before you know it. Repeat sparse sowings every couple of weeks will give you continuity of supply through the season.

Vegetable Marrow. Very like growing Courgettes, but they grow through the whole season and will hopefully give you a whopper or two to enjoy.

Potatoes, whether they be First earlys, Second earlys or Main Crop are always worth trying. Plant the small ‘egg’ size seed potatoes 30cms apart towards the end of March in shallow trenches. When the shoots start to show themselves, draw soil from each side of the rows to cover them over, and repeat this two or three times. Allow them to continue growing on, and after a while they will produce flowers. Only once the flower has gone can you make and experimental dig to see the size and quantity that you have grown. Leave them longer for bigger potatoes.

Radishes grown for your own salads. Once again, sow thinly in shallow drills and watch them grow. Undertake fortnightly sowing through the season for continuity of supply.

Tomatoes. In raised beds and supported as you can see here, or in large pots outside or growbags. They do need their side shoots pinched out as they appear so they don’t become too unruly, and they’ll benefit from fortnightly liquid tomato feed. But the effort is well worth it as the flavours are amazing, and you’ll always want to grow your own .

Rhubarb. I suppose as it is the leaf stalk that is referred to as Rhubarb, and a leaf stalk isn’t a fruit, that it must therefore be a vegetable. And yet we have it as a Pudding. Anyhow, having completely died down to nothing at the end of each year, Rhubarb comes into growth remarkably early. In many cases it will have reached harvestable sizes before you even thought to go and have a look. Harvested simply by holding a stalk with both hands and gently pulling. Harvest a few times through the season, but always make sure that you leave some leaves so it keeps its strength.

My last choice for ease of growing is the Dwarf French Bean. Either sow or buy-in plants, and once they start producing, you’ll have a job to keep up !

I hope this may have whetted your appetite for growing your own, and wish you an enjoyable time when harvest comes around.