As the price of fresh produce goes up and up, more and more people are thinking about growing their own. This pastime was very popular decades ago, but now we have smaller gardens, and less time to tend to them, it has fallen out of favour. That means few of us have grown up knowing how to get started with growing our own fruit and vegetables. If you’ve never had a go at gardening in this way before, don’t panic. You can get started in 6 simple bite-sized steps:
Start by measuring just how much of your garden you’re willing to give up for growing your own. You don’t need much, and it is possible to grow some produce from just a few hanging baskets and balcony pots! It’s up to you how much you want to do, but consider how much you need to make a good meal. Each vegetable and fruit plant must be separate from the others. That’s why pots work well. Fruits like strawberries flourish in hanging baskets. What a pity they are seasonal!
Now you know where you’re going to grow, it’s time to prepare the soil. You might have chosen to rent an allotment plot. Often, these have already been used for growing. If you know what was in there, you can choose to nurture it for next season, or turn it all over and start again. Soil needs feeding, watering and airing. A gardening fork might be enough to air it. Of course, if you’re working with raised beds or pots, you’ll do well to buy good quality soil to fill them. Make sure there is drainage.
Building It Up
If you are building raised beds, then opt for some sleepers. You can, of course, reclaim some wood if that helps. Building raised beds make gardening easier as you don’t have to be on the ground. You might have more chance at reducing the access to your produce for pests too. Raised beds can also be decorated to help keep your garden looking beautiful.
Greenhouses are ideal if you want to extend your growing season. These can be placed on any flat part of your garden. To maximise your growing season and protect what you grow, click here for more information about how a greenhouse might help. They vary in size from just a couple of metres square, to as big as you like!
Many people like the idea of planting leftover veggies and growing them up from there. In some cases, that can be the ideal way to do it. But it is important to remember that the produce you bought is of an unknown origin. You don’t know how or where it was farmed, or if that vegetable is fit and healthy to reproduce! You can buy exactly what you need from a garden centre if you want to grow your own. You’ll also find that there are ideal months and weather conditions to watch out for when you want to grow your own.
You can grow carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, peas, beans, broccoli, courgettes, cauliflower, and salad in a UK garden. That means you can put together quite a good meal from produce you grow yourself. If you use a greenhouse, you might be able to coordinate your harvest a little easier too.
As for fruit? You can grow strawberries, apples, pears, plums, raspberries, and blackberries with reasonable ease. Bear in mind that apples, pears, and plums grow on trees. These don’t fare well in pots, so you will need a good sized plot to plant them. Maturity for fruiting takes several years. Of course, you’ll be able to grow your own dessert then!
Tending and Protecting
All plants need looking after. Weeding will be your biggest gardening job once you’ve decided to grow your own. Of course, greenhouses save you from doing this almost completely. They can also be ideal for preventing the common garden pests all green fingered people hate. Slugs and snails can destroy a plant in minutes (and you thought they were slow!) Pellets can be safe when you have children and pets, but be wary of using them if you’re going organic. Natural remedies aren’t always entirely effective. Try the ones you dare, but do your research before selecting any.
It takes trial and error to grow a good crop. Don’t be disappointed if things don’t work out the first time. You’ll soon be digging up a tasty dinner! Enjoy.
This is a contributed post.