Most of us, at one time or another, have considered growing vegetables and now, with rising food prices and a new emphasis on local, organic produce, public interest is at an all-time high. And while growing your own veg is too complex a topic to cover in a few hundred words, here’s a bit of advice to consider as you get started.
Where Shall I Plant?
No matter where you are, you can grow something! If you’re fortunate enough to have your own garden, you can start there, tilling the ground directly, or building raised beds, which lend themselves to a neater appearance and, most importantly, better drainage. If you live in a city, you may have access to an allotment, where you can rent your own beds for cultivation (for a short list of where to find urban allotments, see the end of this article). Finally, container gardens are appropriate for all but the largest vine-producing plants. Place your containers on your balcony or patio for plenty of sunlight and be sure to add adequate water and fertiliser when required.
What Shall I Plant?
The first answer is, “Whatever you like!” After all, if you truly dislike aubergines, you won’t want to grow them, even if they are a gorgeous colour. The second, more practical, answer is, “it depends on the ‘where.’” If you’re using your garden or an allotment, you should have plenty of room for most types of veg, including those with long vines and large fruits, such as pumpkin and other squash, or tall veg such as sweet corn. Container-friendly plants include tomatoes, beans, and herbs of all kinds, lettuces, beets, and peppers. You can also find container-friendly carrots and climbing courgettes. Many plant varieties require that your start them indoors, when the weather is still cold, then gradually acclimate, or “harden” them to outdoor life. If you do not have the space for this, consider purchasing small, hardy, hybrids for greater success.
What Tools Do I Need?
To begin planting in your garden or allotment, you’ll most likely need access to a tiller (buy one with friends to share the expense), to make short work of plowing. You’ll need a spade for digging large holes, a trowel for the smaller ones, and for container gardening. A hoe helps you chop up dirt clumps and is good for weeding in large patches; while a hand fork helps you remove those nasty weeds by the root. Always wear gloves, particularly when weeding; skin can be sensitive to plant juices. A water hose will help you keep your veg watered in dry spells; for container gardens, a simple watering can suffices. A good fertiliser, such as potash, and compost will help nourish your plants. You can purchase compost, or make your own, for which you’ll need a good compost bin. If you don’t wish to build your own raised beds, you can purchase these also, as well as containers that are decorative as well as serviceable. If you’re growing on an allotment or in your own garden, consider a polytunnel, which allows you to give sensitive plants the right amount of humidity.
Some people seem to take naturally to gardening; their thumbs are green – and so are a few fingers! Most of us, however, have to learn quite a bit as we go. For more information on video gardening courses and online tutorials, MyGardenSchool.com will give you the information you need to keep gardening enjoyable and productive, helping you avoid discouraging (and sometimes costly!) errors along the way. Check out our many course offerings and make your gardening dreams reality!