It’s been a while since we did anything about growing your own vegetables.
To pick and eat your own crops is a great thrill. You know they have been well grown; you know they are fresh and you know that they are the best in the world!
Today you can discover just how to cultivate your own vegetables – and you don’t need a big garden to do so. Edible crops can be squeezed into the tiniest of plots. You’ll be surprised at how good some of them look – it’s a shame to pick them really!
When you’re thinking about where to grow vegetables in your garden, bear the following considerations in mind for the best results:
Choosing your site
- Try to find a sunny spot with good drainage. A south-facing aspect is ideal.
- Avoid overhanging tree branches and shade cast by buildings or hedges.
- Make sure there is plenty of water. Avoid the area next to hedges as this tends to be dry.
- Provide shelter from wind. You may need to put up a windbreak.
- Make sure there is protection from wildlife. You may need a rabbit and/or deer-proof fence.
- Vegetable plots require quite a lot of work – planting, weeding, watering, tying, harvesting, manuring and so on. So make your life as easy as possible by making your plot low maintenance.
- A good idea is to divide the plot into four areas – this lets you rotate the crops, minimising disease problems.
- Make sure the paths between the beds are wide enough to take a wheelbarrow, and have a hard surface – paving slabs will stop your feet getting too muddy.
- Make the beds about 1.2m (4ft) wide with paths all around, because you can water and weed without getting on to the bed.
- Make sure there is a source of water nearby. It’s worth getting an outdoor tap so that you don’t have to carry heavy watering cans hundreds of yards
- There’s room for vegetables in any garden, no matter how small.
- You don’t have to have a dedicated vegetable plot to grow them successfully. You can mix them in with your flowering plants – for example you can grow Sweetcorn and Marigold together. It’s what cottage gardeners have done for centuries.
- You can grow vegetables among ornamental plants. There are many varieties which have ornamental qualities, such as red flowered beans, crinkly leaved lettuce, black French beans and yellow tomatoes. Even the frilly foliage of the carrot is pretty.
- Use vertical spaces in the garden. You could create a temporary ‘hedge’ of runner beans over a net, or put a few willow teepees in a bed and grow beans, gourds, cucumbers or melons over them.
- Salad leaves, herbs, courgettes and climbing beans all grow perfectly well in containers.
- On a warm sunny patio you can grow tomatoes and sweet peppers.
- They will need a lot of water!
Growing vegetables successfully is no different to growing ornamental plants successfully. Start with good plants or seed, give them what they want: food, water and light – and they’ll do the work for you. Vegetables and fruit are greedy and it’s important to incorporate lots of bulky organic manure and fertiliser every year.