Starting your own vegetable patch
With the organic market booming and the number of vegetarians and vegans climbing year-on-year, fruit and veg is big business right now. But with rising food prices globally, have you ever thought about growing your own?
There are so many advantages to starting your own vegetable patch. It saves money, it‘s good for the environment, it’s great for personal wellbeing and it gives you a chance to educate and inspire kids to grow and eat their own food. If you’re not sure where to start don‘t worry - we’ve put together some top tips to get you started.
Pick the right spot
Vegetables need plenty of sunshine and ideally you need to look for a sheltered spot that gets five - six hours of direct sunshine a day. Try and find somewhere away from long grass where slugs can hide and ruin your hard work whilst you’re sleeping. You might want to consider a raised bed or a border around the vegetable patch.
Prepare the soil
You’ll need to dig deep to prepare your soil, removing weeds and digging out stones and roots. Taking the time to do this now will give you the best possible chance of success. If you’re not planting up immediately cover your soil with black mulch to prevent weeds returning.
Whatever the soil type, it will be glad of a good helping of well rotted compost or manure to provide the nutrients needed for good healthy veg. You can get this from any garden centre, or just visit your local riding stables who often let people take it away for free. Just make sure you take a sturdy bag to transport it in.
If you’re planning to grow climbers such as beans you will need to create some support structures which can be wooden stakes, or trellis.
Create a plan
Once the ground is prepared the fun begins as you start to plan the year‘s activities. The most important thing is to decide what you’re going to grow! Try to keep it simple in your first year, so you’re not overwhelmed – ideal crops for a beginner would be things like salad leaves, herbs, courgettes, tomatoes, peas and broad beans. Add in some flowers to provide colour and variety - sunflowers look great and marigolds help keep pests away. Remember to leave plenty of space as crops don’t like to be crowded.
It’s a good idea to create a calendar to help you keep track of the right time for sowing, planting and harvesting your crops. The Royal Horticultural Society have a great example on their website.
For smaller gardens
If you only have a small space it doesn‘t matter! You can still grow your own veg in wooden planters, pots or grow-bags. We love this wooden planter ‘how to‘ guide from Gardener’s World.
Most importantly, have fun and watch out for more tips as the year progresses!