- Make waste a thing of the past by only selecting the vegetables you need when you need them from your own garden
- Add seasonal veg into your diet, save on your shopping bill and be inspired to start growing your own vegetables at home with our helpful guide below
- More and more people are finding that growing their own fresh vegetables is not only a way to enjoy the fantastic flavour of freshly produced food, it saves money too
Summer has arrived, and with it a love of being outdoors and in the garden. Over the last few years, the trend of growing your own vegetables in your very own vegetable patch has increased in popularity and why not? With a little hard work, you can have a wide range of vegetables growing in your very own garden, saving money on your shopping bills and making sure you can easily get your 5 a day with delicious home grown goods.
But how do you go about starting your vegetable patch? We teamed up with gardening enthusiast Sarah Farnborough to tell us about how, and what, we should be doing to get the best growing in our gardens.
Seasonal Top Tips
Spring is when you can get a head start with your crops by covering soil with polythene. This helps warm up the earth and we found it keeps prepared soil weed free. If you are not growing from seed, many vegetables can be bought as small plants from local garden centres, making growing your own even easier as you only have to pop them in and watch them grow!
The summer months are when most of your vegetables will be ready to eat, so try to stagger planting so you don’t get everything at once. When choosing what to grow, it is best to choose vegetables you use regularly so you don’t end up with vegetables you are not sure what to do with.
Autumn is still a time for harvest, but you can also think about planting. With the soil still warm in September you can continue to sow crops like lettuce, particularly oriental salad mixes and spinach, as these are wonderful to use in stir-fry recipes and soups as the weather turns cooler.
In winter it’s time to get soil prepared and create a plan for what to plant in spring. If you are thinking about growing from seed, then a cold frame or greenhouse is the best way to start seedlings off. Once established, these small plants can be transplanted outside when all signs of frost have passed.
Spending time in the garden can be something for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you have patio pots, some spare space in a border or a large allotment, with a bit of simple planning and a little hard work you could soon be eating your own lovely fresh vegetables.
Why not have a go and share some of your pictures with us on Facebook?
Growing your own vegetables is one idea to try, but you can grow your own fruit too with our handy guide.
5 easy vegetables to try - lettuce
Lettuce can be grown from seed and most varieties are pretty fool proof. Try buying mixed packets so you can create your own salad mix similar to bagged salads available in supermarkets. We recommend ‘cut-and-come-again’ varieties as you can pick individual leaves daily once they are big enough.
Plant: If you are growing from seed, sow under cover in a cold frame or greenhouse. If you buy small seedlings for planting outside, choose a sunny or partly shaded spot.
Space Required: Lettuce are perfect for filling spaces in flower borders or between tomato plants. They can also be grown in pots to protect them from slugs.
Care: Keep soil moist, especially when lettuces are ready for harvest. If the soil gets dry, plants will put their energy into producing flowers instead of tasty leaves.
Harvest: Depending on the varieties chosen, either pick individual leaves as you need them or pull a whole lettuce.
5 easy vegetables to try - potatoes
Potatoes are a good choice for beginners and fun for children as they can get involved by gently digging under the green foliage and to find their first potatoes. Choose between early or main crop varieties depending on how quickly you want to harvest them. Early varieties grow the fastest in around 90 days, meaning a delicious crop of new potatoes by late spring.
Plant: Supplied as 'seed potatoes', they aren’t actually seeds but full-size potatoes that have produced shoots known as chits. Plant chitted potatoes once the soil is warm.
Space Required: If you are short on space choose earlies as they will happily grow close together in tubs or sacks, and are less likely to have pest trouble due to being lifted sooner. Maincrop potatoes are suited to larger plots and storing in winter.
Care: Potatoes like plenty of sunshine, so ensure they are in a sunny spot. Water well during dry weather as lack of moisture means a smaller crop.
Harvest: Your home grown potatoes should be ready for harvesting from June when flowers are open but foliage is still green. Early, or new potatoes, can be eaten as soon as they are lifted and are delicious in salads.
5 easy vegetables to try - peas
There is nothing like the taste of fresh peas. They couldn’t be more different from frozen peas from the supermarket. Unfortunately, in our house they don’t always make to the kitchen table as they get eaten as soon as they are picked!
Plant: Sow peas in rows once soil is warm in either a vegetable plot or planter. For successive crops throughout summer, sow at two-week intervals.
Space Required: If you choose dwarf varieties, they can be sown in small blocks or in tubs on the patio.
Care: Make sure peas are well supported. Once they are 2-3” (5-7cms) high, use bamboo canes or trellis to support them. Keep soil moist, watering well when flowering to encourage good pod growth.
Harvest: Pick peas regularly to ensure they keep producing. Pods lower down the plant will be ready first.
5 easy vegetables to try - runner beans
With so many varieties of beans to choose from, runners are a good place to start. Quick germination time and hardiness means they are fun for children to have a go at growing too.
Plant: Sow under cover in a greenhouse or cold frame from April. Beans will germinate in about a week. Transplant out once all risk of frost has passed. Small bean plants can also be bought ready to plant.
Space Required: The perfect space saving vegetable, grow in patio pots or with their pretty flowers, try in a flower border.
Care: Keep soil moist and water well in dry weather. Plants require support from garden canes and string. A wigwam frame is ideal when growing in pots.
Harvest: Start harvesting from July. Pick beans when they reach 8” (20 cm) in length. The more you pick the more they produce. If you end up with a glut they can be frozen to enjoy later in the year.
5 easy vegetables to try - tomatoes
Even though tomatoes are fruit, we just couldn’t leave them out of our list. They were one of our first plants, and we now grow them every year because they are sweet, full of flavour and the skins delightfully soft. A greenhouse provides a good environment, but they are equally happy in a warm sheltered spot.
Plant: Get started by buying young plants from a garden centre or market. You can try growing several different varieties, but we recommend trying cherry as they ripen quickly.
Space Required: You may think you need plenty of room for tomatoes, but it depends on the variety. You can buy plants suited to growing inside, in containers or even hanging baskets.
Care: Make sure plants have canes to support them. Pop these in when planting to ensure you don’t damage the roots. Unless you are growing a bush variety, regularly pinch out shoots that form in the leaf joints. Keep soil moist by watering daily and feed once a week to encourage good fruit production.
Harvest: Pick tomatoes regularly once ripe. If you are left with some green tomatoes at the end of summer, pop them in a drawer with some ripe bananas to help them turn red.