So you want to be a VegGrower?
Of course you do. Youíve seen the light and come to appreciate the many benefits of growing your own veg and want a piece of the action but you just donít know where to start.
Firstly, donít be concerned if your garden is nano in itís proportions. Whilst the amount of space you have may dictate the amount of vegetables you can grow, it wonít restrict the types of veg you can produce. Before you start digging up the lawn, why not try some container veg growing first? There are some real advantages over growing in the traditional plot as you donít have to do any digging and because you are using fresh compost every year, there is no risk of building up soil pests and diseases. Even established VegGrowers are growing veg in containers these days as it is so quick and easy to grow successful crops.
You can pretty much grow any veg crop in a planter, even carrots and potatoes can be grown in containers and with the range of veg planters that are now on the market, youíll easily find one most appropriate for your needs. If youíre growing potatoes in a potato planter, itís best to choose an early variety. As for other veg crops, itís generally better to pick varieties which produce smaller sized veg as you wonít have the space provided by raised beds or the traditional veg patch for full size vegetables. See our section on Veg Seeds for Containers for some ideal varieties. Or you could put in a raised bed or two. These are relatively inexpensive, take minutes to put together and once filled with a mix of compost and topsoil, are ideal growing conditions for your seeds or plants. See our section on Raised Beds & Containers for more info.
Donít be tempted to go nuts and try to grow everything possible in your first year. If you have no growing experience and attempt to take on the entire veg growing gamut in one go, then youíll only set yourself up for failure. This could have the knock on affect of putting you off growing veg entirely, which would be a real shame. Whilst growing veg doesnít have to take up your entire day, there is some light work involved which will eat into your spare time so start small(ish) in your first year and build on that experience the following year. If youíre short on time then try growing vegetables from small plants rather than from seed. It may be more expensive than growing from seed but the plants are already underway, so half the work is already done and there is less risk of failure. All you have to do is keep the plants watered and pest free and youíll be enjoying your first home grown harvest within weeks.
Suggested Veg Crops for the Beginner
The first question you have to ask is what veg do you enjoy eating? Thereís no point growing broad beans if you hate them or sowing sprouts if you find them repulsive. Youíre much better off channelling your VegGrowing energies into growing veg that you actually like.
If youíre in need of some inspiration, here are some good suggestions:
ĎCut and come againí salad leaves are always a great place to start as theyíre easy to grow, will grow in pretty much anything and most people enjoy eating them. Plant or sow into a veg planter once the weatherís warmed up.
Potatoes are very easy to grow, particularly in a potato planter or potato barrel. Seed Potato Packs start from only £1.99. See our Potato VegGrowing Guide for more info.
Tomato plants. Put three in a growbag, against the house wall and keep well watered.
Microleaves. This salad superfood is available in handy little pots for windowsill growing. Simply pop the lid off, water and keep moist. Easy.
Our VegGrower VegPlant Collections are selections of great value seedlings which you simply plant out. Voila, instant veg garden!
VegGrowerís top tipsÖ.
Here are some golden rules to keep you on track:
Seeds sown outside wonít germinate (and therefore wonít grow) in cold and wet soil. Either wait until the weather warms up or warm the soil using sheets of polythene or Plastic Growing Tunnels. Keep the tunnels on after planting or sowing for protected crops.
Anticipate pests and diseases, donít wait until they appear, which they inevitably will (particularly in the traditional plot). Implement some protective measures from the start and save yourself the heartache further down the line when your crop is decimated by aphids, caterpillars, birds or rabbits. Netting tunnels keep the birds off and Insect Mesh tunnels keep the insects out. Insect or Enviromesh is available prepacked, in tunnel form and by the metre. We love Insect Mesh/Enviromesh and you will too.
If itís dry, water well. Container veg in particular do not appreciate drying out so aim to keep the soil a little moist.
If you do spot any pests and diseases, do something about them straight away. If you donít theyíll run roughshod over your patch, affecting the yields and your sanity.
If youíre sowing from seed, donít sow the whole packet in one go otherwise all the veg will be ready at the same time and you wonít know what to do with it all. Instead, sow a few seeds every couple of weeks to give you a succession of crops and a steady supply of tasty veg.
Need some more info? Check out our VegGrowing Guides for more information on different types of veg and vegetable growing information.