Growing your own vegetables can be both rewarding and frustrating, depending on how the years crop does. However when they grow well there is nothing like a basket of your own home grown veg, where you know for certain what has been sprayed onto them.
Country Life recently published an article stating that “Vegetable seed sales have risen by 60 per cent since last spring, with consumers embracing the trend to grow their own vegetables.”
My father taught me to ‘grow my own’ over a decade ago and of course I had failures, including the time I mistook the beetroot shoots for weeds but I felt real pride the first time I made Leek & Potato soup with my own leeks and potatoes.
Most of us living in the country either have some land or can certainly get access to a little plot and growing your own need not take acres but even if you live in a block of city flats you can begin to grow some veg in bags and pots if necessary. For example beetroot grow very well in a pot on the balcony or a roof garden.
I thought I would look up some good internet resources for growing vegetables to save you having to search around for them.
Before we start may I just say that I am a skinflint when it comes to gardening, so rather than buy an expensive greenhouse I built one and my seeds grow merrily in old plastic coke bottles. So if your idea of gardening involves ride on mowers and a greenhouse worth thousands then these may not suit you. If however you want to get started as cheaply and practically as you can then have a look at some of the links below.
I love the Grow Your Own website because it has a seasonal guide which tells you each month what to plant. For example it is currently April and this month we should be planting our herbs and tells us how to plant them, when to pick them and the best varieties to grow. A very useful resource for a both beginners and experienced gardeners.
Verdant certainly don’t have the prettiest website in the world and they can get a little over zealous with their anti-consumerism message at times but their site is very useful for beginners. They teach “effective ways that you can raise your own organic food in a small area with minimum effort and no cost”. There is a great section on composting and soil preparation, they also explain how to grow veg in the smallest of areas with the minimum amount of work.
Garden Organic is certainly one of my favourites. They also have a seasonal section suggesting what to plant each month and they have an “ask the experts” section which is very handy. Their section on organic pest and weed control is a must read for keen growers who aren’t keen on ingesting chemicals.
Backyard Gardener has a wonderful gardening section which takes you through the stages of designing a veg garden, building a cold frame, a raised bed, a tomato cage, etc. It even has the nutritional value of vegetables and 3000 vegetable recipes.
One of the difficulties of growing your own in the UK is of course the weather but that is where a decent greenhouse comes into it’s own. They need not be expensive and with just a few diy skills you can scrounge up some old unwanted materials and build one yourself.
OK I am lucky and my father is an engineer so after a few scribbles on the bag of a fag packet and a hunt round the farm for some spare wood we soon had a greenhouse erected but my next post will look at resources and plans for building your own.
I hope you find these resources useful and they encourage you to get out in the garden and start growing your own food.