Grow your own has long been a favoured pastime for many people, for various reasons. Not only the satisfaction of cultivating and eating your own produce, that you have carefully nurtured over several months, but also from the perspective of the quality of the food in terms of nutrients that you are able to control as you have grown them yourself.
Grown your own (shortened to GYO) is a flourishing area of gardening and in many ways can be started with little to no financial outlay.
What are the key things to remember when starting to grow your own vegetables?
Choose the location carefully
As anyone who has attempted to grow any form of plant will know, different plants will require different types of soil and levels of sunshine/shade. However with vegetables it is a different story, because the ideal location is in fact the sunniest spot that you have available. Some plants do require shade but this can created artificially with netting or other form of impermeable substrate.
In terms of soil, vegetables are relatively hardy so most garden soils are fine. If however there is a problem with the soil, then simply build a raised bed or use large pots. Using nutrient rich compost will help, and you can even add your own mix as well.
Ensuring healthy plants
As any avid gardener will testify, pests and diseases are the main enemies. Specifically slugs and snails when it comes to vegetables. Ideally keep your vegetable plot away from long grass areas or densely populated flower areas, as these are the ideal place for slug to hide.
Weeds are a common and somewhat irritating problem, which can be eliminated as much as possible by ensuring that before sowing any vegetables that the area is weed free. Placing mulch or doubled up newspaper over the area will act as an effective weed suppressant.
Some examples of easy to grow vegetables to get you started
Always a firm favourite with GYO crowd is the tomato plant. Now available in a huge and diverse array of varieties, tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. This is part of their enduring appeal. Usually available as either seed or plug plants/ seedlings, they can be literally planted almost anywhere. There are even grow bags which are specifically tailored to growing tomato plants with all of the relevant nutrients included.
These types of vegetables come in a superb range of flavours and textures to satisfy all. One of the quickest vegetables to grow, in fact using a quick growing version can mean that from planting to eating can be in as little as one month.
The mainstay of most peoples diets, the potato is easy and fun to grow. Planting usually takes place in late Feb to early March. On average the potato’s can be harvested anywhere between 10-20 weeks later. The key is to wait until the foliage starts to wilt and turn yellow. Then its time to harvest.
Another firm favourite with the GYO’ners. The humble pea, available in several varieties is renowned for its trouble free maintenance. Sowing can be done between March and June, with crops available from June to August. Nothing beats the taste of fresh peas and the great thing is that the more you pick them, the more will be produced.
Runner beans and Broad beans
Essentially grown in the same way, these two forms of bean are nutritious and tasty and easy to grow. The main difference between the two is that after the start to grow, runner beans will generally need “training” as they are climbers. So some sturdy sticks or wire placed alongside will allow them to flourish.
As with any form of plant, be aware that there are pests and diseases that can affect the crop and in some cases destroy all your hard work. For that reason, keep an eye on your vegetables and treat any early signs of problems as quickly as possible.
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