Growing your own fruit and veg is so satisfying, it tastes great, it helps the climate by reducing our carbon footprint and now with the threat of self-isolation from coronavirus, being self-sufficient couldn’t be more important.
Here’s a few tips that might inspire you to grow your own.
(revised post from March 2019)
Growing from seed
We start to sow just about everything in our small greenhouse, in late March – early April and that way they are ready for planting in their final position when the weather warms up, usually after Easter. We always choose a variety that is either the most reliable for planting ‘up North’ or interesting i.e. taste, colour, shape, size, heritage; in 2018 we grew beetroot rouge crapaudine, which is parsnip shaped and tasted lovely.
My top tip for younger kids is to plant beans and squash and sunflowers because the seeds are big, easy to handle and plant.
Recycled pots or yoghurt pots, milk cartons, coffee tins (pierce holes in the bottom) or we use the inside of toilet rolls
Compost – seed sowing compost or multipurpose is fine, as long as it’s peat-free
Space – a greenhouse if you have one or windowsill is where they will be happiest
Care – remember the seeds will need space, sun (not too much), water (again, not too much) just keep the soil from drying out.
Remember to read the instructions on the seed packets, there is tons of help and advice on the back of the envelope.
Always label and date your seeds, that way you remember when & what you planted!
Here’s some of the veg we’re growing in 2020
Broad beans are really easy to plant as they are quite big, they are ideal for young tots to grow. If planted against wet paper or tissue in a jam jar you can watch the roots grow down and the shoots grow up. My mum has chosen to grow these this year, for a special salad that she loves to make with roasted tomatoes. Here is a link to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, all about how to grow broad beans
We’ve always grown courgettes in our garden, they are another one of them crops that just keep on coming. Try to harvest the courgettes when they are small, turn your back at your peril or you will have giant marrows in no time! Mum even uses the flowers; here she has cooked them in a tempura batter
Tomatoes are a must if you have a sunny spot to grow them on, there’s a variety for every space, providing its sunny. The easiest and most space saving one is the tumbling varieties; we used to grow red and yellow tumbling tomatoes at school. At home, we’ve never had much success with tomatoes, as we don’t tend to get much sun, but now we’ve got a greenhouse all that changed and we had our first real success last year with a variety called, ‘Golden Sunrise’
Everyone likes sweetcorn, right? Cooked on a barbecue, with a touch of butter, it’s yum!
We hadn’t had much success with sweetcorn in the past, but if we get a great summer, you’re in for a really great crop. Again the kernels are easy for little fingers to handle and then this magical beanstalk appears to grow in front of your eyes, it’s incredible.
Harvest and BBQ straight away, it brings me a lot of joy!
I really love crunching into a whole cucumber and having the new greenhouse allows us to grow them for ourselves.
Again it’s quite a big seed and they grow really quickly (plant in May). Keep plants moist and stake with a small garden cane to provide support
We have grown lots of varieties of new potatoes at home over the years and we always seem to go back to a variety called, Charlotte and International Kidney, which I believe are Jersey Royals (only you can’t call them that, ‘cos they’re not grown in Jersey!).
First, you have to chit them and then you plant them out. Check out the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website for a really great step by step picture guide. Once they are ready to harvest, you dig down and instantly you are rewarded with a bounty of spuds; they are quicks wins for us kids
We grow peas at home for the simple reason, I love eating them. We start them off using the inside of a toilet roll filled ¾’s of the way up with compost, you place the seed (like a dried pea) on top, then sprinkle more compost over the top and leave it, watering occasionally.
Then when it sprouts you can put it straight into your veg bed (the toilet toll is biodegradable). As the plant grows it needs plenty of support; you can use garden canes and twine. Pretty soon you will have lots of lovely peas to harvest and eat!!!
We grow quite a lot of herbs from seed – coriander, sage, thyme – but our biggest, tastiest and most fragrant was the Greek basil. That’s an absolute defo this year!
I’m also dabbling with some other varieties of basil this year, I’ll keep you posted on how they grow.
Here’s some YouTube seed planting videos I filmed in 2018:
I do hope you have found this week’s blog inspirational and feel encouraged to get out and grow! Pop me a comment below, to let me know what you’re inspired to grow this year!