March Grow Your Own
|Grow your own...|
...fruit and vegetables
There is a real buzz to be had by growing your own fruit and vegetables. It is a healthy pursuit and gets you out into the fresh air, helping to keep you fit by burning off a few calories. It is very green and environmentally friendly and improves your carbon footprint by reducing food miles.
It is a common misconception that you need a lot of space to be able to grow vegetables. Don’t worry: Even if containers are all you’ve got to grow in, you can still achieve real success and enjoy fresh vegetables. Some vegetables and fruit are more associated with container growing than others. Tomatoes will thrive in pots, grow bags and with the right choice of variety will be very successful when tried in hanging baskets. They can also be grown in the ground be it in the garden or allotment.
Provided the container is large enough to give the plants a good root run and they are never allowed to dry out you will be amazed at what you can harvest. There are some real advantages in using portable containers as you can move them around to achieve the best growing position e.g. tomatoes and aubergines love sunny positions, spinach and lettuce prefer to be in the shade when it is very hot.
You can try potatoes, broad beans, runner beans, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. If you wish to be adventurous you can force some rhubarb in special forcing pots that are made from terracotta. There are various products available to help you grow your own, even if you do not have a garden or allotment. Potatoes can be grown in most types of container providing they are deep enough. There are potato growing kits which provide all that you need in order to be successful at your first attempt.
To further encourage you to grow your own; there are grow bag pots, which can be laid out on the patio. These are of a simple design, fit easily into the bag of compost and can be supplied with water and feed minimising any wastage of water and feed. Vegetable planters are really mobile raised beds which can be slotted into the smallest space and do not require digging or weeding before use. No garden is required with the vegetable planter, just add compost, seed or starter plants and watch the vegetables grow and mature.
Those with space in the garden or are fortunate to have an allotment can really grow many vegetable crops starting off by sowing seed of broad beans, carrots and parsnips. Peas and broad beans are easy to sow and crop. Potatoes are great for loosening up the ground and are easy to plant giving a crop to harvest some 12/14 weeks later. Once lifted, the ground can be planted up with leeks for winter cropping. If you do decide to plant potatoes in a container just put two potatoes per pot. There is no advantage in putting any more as you will not increase the yield. Onions come as sets and their cousin garlic can be planted as mini bulbs.
To make life really easy there are starter plants of many vegetables to be purchased from the garden centre or by mail order. These include sweetcorn, various cabbage and cauliflower varieties including broccoli, peas and runner beans. Salad crops are also available, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, aubergine, chillies, marrow, courgettes, squash and pumpkins. They come as either small plugs or mini plants guaranteeing success from the outset and can be planted out with the minimum of effort. No worries about whether or not the seed will germinate. Strawberries and blueberries can be easily grown in containers as well as in the ground. Both will crop heavily once established.
Once you have a bit more experience you can try apples, raspberries and other fruits and expand your horizons.
Growing your own can be very rewarding and satisfying, it is not that difficult to do once you have made up your mind to have a go.
Material courtesy of www.the-hta.org