From a practical view, there are many good reasons to grow your own vegetables, it’s cheap, you can grow types you can’t find in the shops etc.
But the real joy is the satisfaction of success, the enjoyment of eating and cooking your own food that was merely a little seed a few weeks previously, and how lovely it all looks, vegetables are such attractive plants.
I went to college and learned all about horticulture twenty five years ago (gulp!) but I’m fairly new to growing vegetables in a serious way.
I’ve always dabbled, growing a few runner beans and tomatoes most years, but I’m keener now and want to grow enough to enjoy and make a real difference to what we eat.
I’ve had an allotment for three years and a small vegetable patch in the garden, but this is the year for serious vegetable growing. Why not join me and let’s get sowing and growing.
What to sow:
This depends on how much room you have and what you like to eat. Don’t let lack of space put you off, it’s surprising what you can grow in a balcony or window box.
When to sow:
Hardy vegetables like carrots, beetroot, leeks and chard can be sown directly into the ground when the soil is warm enough for them.
° I usually start sowing hardies in March. I have two guides about when to sow, the first is when the length of day and night is equal (Spring equinox), this year it’s on 20 March, yes tomorrow!
° The second is when you see weed seedlings sprouting up in your garden, but if in doubt wait another week.
How to sow:
° Get the ground ready by removing all weeds, dig and rake until the soil is fine and crumbly with no big lumps that will get in the way of emerging baby plants.
° Vegetable growing needs more attention to improving the soil than flowers do. They need more energy to produce healthy vegetables, so it’s really worth improving the soil so you get bigger, better harvests.
° Heavy clay soil needs grit or compost/soil-improver digging-in and sandy, light soil needs compost/soil improver to give it some guts.
° Sow a few seeds, not the whole packet, in a straight line so they’re easy to see when they’re tiny and you won’t mix them up with weeds. First, make a mini trench with a stick, water the base and sprinkle the seeds thinly along it. And cover with soil, the seed packet will tell you how deep to sow them. Don’t forget the label.
Looking after them:
° Water them every day if it doesn’t rain and the soil looks dry, but don’t drown them.
° After 2 or 3 weeks they’ll be getting crowded so thin them out by removing a few seedlings to give room for the stronger ones to grow.
° It’s a good idea to sow a few seeds like carrots, salad leaves every 3-4 weeks so that you don’t run out.
° Keep watering, weeding and you’ll de delighted with their progress.
Be prepared for your plants being demolished by slugs or other nasties, it’s part of the whole cycle of growing, just carry on regardless and don’t be put off.
I’ll keep you posted about progress and I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.