vegetables

A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own

New Year, New You! There has never been a more interesting time for edible gardening. It is right on so many levels. It saves money, saves the planet and satisfies our appetites for something new, fresh and exciting.

If you’re worried about not enough space or time, please don’t. Growing your own can be done on a windowsill, small plot in the back garden or you can even hire your own local allotment to really take advantage of the benefits of growing your own! See this link for allotments for hire around Ireland from as little as €120 per year.

 

Edible gardening is an opportunity to grow interesting flavours fresher than money can buy. It is the key to children being more adventurous with food. If they grow it, they will eat it – and that’s exciting.

Where to Grow?

What you decide to plant will be somewhat dictated by the space you have. If you do not have garden beds you can grow vegetables in pots . These need to be big enough not to cramp a plant’s roots nor dry them out at the first sign of any sun. The greater the soil depth the better, although a minimum of 15cm is enough for salads. Vegetables will grow best in a sheltered and sunny spot.

grow bag

A grow bag full of yumminess

 

Fighting the baddies!

Keeping your plot neat and tidy by clearing weeds and leaves gets rid of the places where nasties like slugs and snails hide. Don’t have long grass or dense flower borders adjacent to your veg plot asthis is their planning zone – preparing for night-time raids on your crops.

Where possible put a path (ideally paved, but compacted soil is fine), in between beds as a no-man’s – or rather no-slug’s – land where they will be easily picked off by you or the birds. The lower surface area, compared to a covering of bark or raked earth means that they are also more likely to encounter a sprinkle of organic slug pellets.

slug-control-red-slug

A “clean” weed-free plot before you start is the key to success with vegetables. Otherwise you risk an endless war of attrition to prevent your plot from being swamped.

Always try and stay chemical-free, especially when dealing with foods you are going to be eating. Vinegar mixed with water (one part vinegar to two parts water) works wonders on weeds. If not, then good old-fashioned hand pulling is most ideal.

Weed pulling

Victory!

OK, now what should you plant?

Lettuce is a brilliant vegetable to begin with if you have never grown anything before. It can be grown in a window box if space is limited and you can harvest outer leaves as you need them without pulling up the whole plant.  Start the seeds off indoors then thin out the seedlings when you plant them outside. The amount of space you give them will dictate the size of their leaves. For whole heads of lettuce, plant each seedling approximately a lettuce width apart. For smaller, more tender leaves, a closer spacing will mean their neighbours will stunt their growth. Both work well, so how you space them is up to you.

lettuce_mixed_salad

Mmmm….fresh greens!

Lettuce not your thing? How about Spring Onions and Radishes! These make easy vegetables to grow in pots, or sow them directly into the ground throughout the summer for a succession of crunchy, colourful crops.  They are a delicious accompaniment with salads and really add a pop of colour!

Radish Mantanghong

Wow! Look at those colours!

Potatoes are really fun to grow for kids of all ages! Plant during late February and March in  potato bags that are only part filled with compost. When the green shoots begin to appear above the soil, simply cover them with more compost. Repeat this until the bag is full, and then you only need remember to water them! The fun comes at the end of the season, 10 to 20 weeks later, when the foliage starts to yellow and die back. Tip the bag out and rummage around in the soil to collect up your own home grown potatoes. Now you can make chips, mash, wedges, roast spuds…..  Potatoes are such easy vegetables to grow at home!

Happy potato

This spud is happy you grew him!

If you’re growing potatoes you should grow some delicious herbs to make it interesting! Mint is really easy to grow – so easy you may need to grow in a pot to stop it from spreading! You can pick it fresh from the plant or even freeze it in ice cubes to use later!

Peas are a trouble free crop that enjoy cooler weather. Sow them directly into the ground from March to June and look forward to the incredible sweet flavour of fresh picked peas from June to August. All they require is support for their stems – simply erect some netting between supports at each end of the row. You’ll be amazed at how good fresh peas taste and the more that you pick them, the more they produce!

Peas

Hap-pea!

What could be simpler than beans! Sow  in spring in small 7.5cm (3″) pots of compost, and within a few weeks these quick growing beans will make sturdy plants that can be planted out in the garden. If that sounds like too much work then sow them directly in the ground. Watch the bees pollinate their pretty flowers and before you know it you will be harvesting a bumper crop of fresh picked beans from June onwards, with a flavour that puts supermarket beans to shame.

bean_red_epicure_3-370_370

Beans don’t have to be green!

Tomato plants are so quick that you can almost watch them grow so they are the ideal easy vegetable for kids to grow. Choose a bush variety like  Gardener’s Delight that can be planted in hanging baskets and window boxes. Bush varieties don’t require training or side-shooting so you only need to feed and water them.

tomato

 

And that’s it! These are the easiest and most popular veggies and herbs that we think will get you off to a great start! See our Vegetable Seeds page for more varieties and tips and email us if you have any further queries!

Here is a great list of what to plant in which month so you can print off and stay on top of sowing, planting and the best part – harvesting!

January.
Artichoke

February.
Artichoke,

Broad bean.

March.
Artichoke, Asparagus,

Globe artichoke,

Broad bean, Beetroot, Brussels sprouts,

Summer cabbage, Red cabbage, Cauliflower, Celeriac (Turnip root celery), Celery,

Leeks, Lettuce,

Spring onion/Scallion, Onion (bulbing varieties),

Parsnip, Pea, Potato, Radish,

Perpetual spinach/leaf beet, Spinach, Tomato, Turnip.

April.
Artichoke, Asparagus,

Globe artichoke, Broad bean,

Beetroot, Broccoli (sprouting variety), Brussels sprouts,

Summer cabbage, Winter cabbage, Savoy cabbage, Red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber,

Endive, Kohl Rabi,

Leeks, Lettuce,

Spring onion/Scallion, Onion (bulbing varieties),

Parsnip, Pea, Potato, Radish,

Perpetual spinach/leaf beet, Spinach, Sweet corn,

Tomato, Turnip. 

May.
French bean, Runner bean, Beetroot, Broccoli (sprouting variety),

Summer cabbage, Winter cabbage, Savoy cabbage, Red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chicory, Cucumber,

Endive,

Kale, Kohl Rabi,

Leeks, Lettuce, Marrow/Courgette,

Spring onion/Scallion,

Pumpkin/Squash, Pea, Potato,

Radish,

Perpetual spinach/leaf beet, Spinach, Swede (yellow turnip), Sweet corn,

Turnip.

June.
French bean, Runner bean, Beetroot,

Chinese cabbage, Carrots, Chicory, Cucumber,

Endive,

Kohl Rabi,

Leeks, Lettuce,

Marrow/Courgette,

Spring onion/Scallion, Pumpkin/Squash, Swede (yellow turnip),

Radish,

Turnip.

July.
French bean, Runner bean, Beetroot,

Spring cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Carrots, Chicory,

Endive,

Kohl Rabi,

Lettuce,

Spring onion/Scallion,

Radish,

Turnip

August.
Spring cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Carrots,

Endive,

Kohl Rabi,

Radish,

Perpetual spinach/leaf beet,

Turnip.

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