There’s nothing like your own home-grown fruit and vegetables, whether its tasty tomatoes or eve just a pot or two of herbs or salad leaves.
The good news is that it takes very little expertise
to produce something delicious…
Let’s start with the basic ingredients. You’ll need some seeds, bulbs or plants depending on what you’re growing, some containers, a spade or trowel, a watering can or hose and some compost.
If you’re growing in pots indoors, choose a nice bright spot, like a sunny windowsill, worktop or porch. The ideal, when planting outdoors is to find a spot where you will get six or more hours of sunlight each day. Raised beds are good if you don’t have a lot of space. There are some great kits out there for this purpose or, you can simply use wooden boarding or new, pressure treated sleepers to construct. If the bed is more than 20cm/ 8inches high, I would suggest lining the inside of the bedwith an impermeable membrane and remember to leave the bottom of the bed open to the soil below for drainage.
Once everything is planted out, use flexible piping and cut into lengths tucking the ends down the inside of the sides of the raised bed at intervals so that the ‘hoops’ will support horticultural fleece which should be tied off at both ends and weighted down at the sides so it doesn’t blow off. This provides protection from the weather and from pests or you can replace the fleece with plastic to create a mini polytunnel.
There is a lot you can plant in February and March – the best visual guide i’ve found is here on the RHS website: rhs.org.uk/advice/pdfs/vegplanner.pdf but spring is often later here.
Use a good multi-purpose compost, this should work well For growing most fruit and vegetables. Outdoor plots may benefit from soil improvers or conditioners depending on the soil. If using pots, make sure your container is deep enough for the roots of the fruit and vegetables that you
have chosen to grow and has drainage holes at the bottom.
Different crops need different conditions so always follow the instructions on the seed packaging. Watering is also key to producing a succulent crop of veg. Indoor plants can be watered using self watering systems such as simple capillary watering trays that will keep plants watered automatically for 14 days – these are readily available online or at your local garden centre.
Outdoor plants don’t need as much attention but still need to be watered regularly during the warmer months or when there is wind evaporation. Best rule of ‘thumb’ is to stick it into the soil and if it’s dry – then water!
If you don’t have access to a garden, think about applying for an allotment, join a community garden, or ask a family or friend if you could use a spot in their garden. You can also use window boxes or vertical garden systems to grow salads or herbs. You can even recycle large plastic bottle to grow herbs, or use a plant pot to grow tomatoes, or go high-tech with a home hydroponic gardening kit, which uses considerably less water than soil gardening and fewer pesticides. You can find home kits online.