The Cottagers didn't use chemicals! So I'm assuming you are not going to use fertilisers, the cost will be greater than the
savings you are going to make growing your own anyway.
If you are planning to turn a lawn into a planting area for vegetables, you will need to remove the turf. The easiest way is to cover the area with black plastic until the grass
A quick way is to remove the turf with a spade, mark out squares about two inches deep with a sharp spade. Then, scoop the turf off, turn it over and store in a heap in a corner of
your garden to turn into loam to be added back to your garden.
Digging the ground
Dig the area over removing as many large stones and weeds as you can, don't try to remove every stone it is impossible.
Providing the soil breaks up into reasonably small chunks there is no need to rake it over. Weeds that haven't gone to seed can be added to your compost heap. Weeds that have gone to seed like
Bindweed and ivy can be rotted down in a plastic bag and then added to the compost
Sandy soil is easier to dig. However, won't have as many of the essential nutrients clay soil does so you will need to dig in plenty of
compost making compost
Chalky soils are dry, stony and low in nutrient, but by choosing plants that grow in chalky soil you can still grow
a good selection.
Clay soil is hard to dig. However, has most of the essential nutrients vegetable plants need. Improving clay soil or grow plants for clay
How to test your type of garden soil
you may prefer the no dig gardening method explained here Gardening without
Preparing seed beds the areas you are going to sow rows of seed will need to be raked fine before sowing. Most seeds are sown direct into the garden. However,
sow a few in trays, the seedlings can be sold at car boots, more than covering the cost of buying the packets of seed in the first place. Guide to sowing seeds.
These vegetables are easy to sow and grow with just basic care.
Broccoli Has high vitamin content and anti-cancer agents. The sprouting types are hardy and
overwintered for harvest in spring and can be white or purple. Calabrese is harvested in the autumn. Sow thinly in April and May 1/2 in deep in rows 6in apart. Thin the seedlings to 3in
apart. You can sow in March in the milder south and again in June. Transplant when the broccoli seedlings are about 6in high planting about
18in apart. In dry weather water them well before and after transplanting . The Broccoli will need a good soaking in dry weather and a feed of homemade liquid
fertiliser now and then will work wonders. Harvest when the flower shoots (spears) are well formed, but before the individual flowers begin to open. Cut the central spear first. This is followed by a series
of side-shoots, which can be picked regularly for about five weeks.
Cabbages can be grown to pick throughout the year as
spring, summer and winter seeds are available. Spring greens are young spring cabbages sown mainly in summer, but also all year round. Sow the same as Broccoli above.
Spring cabbage is sown in July to August and
transplanted in September to October.
Summer cabbage from late February/early March (under cloches or similar cover) until early May; transplant in May/June.
Winter cabbages in April/May; transplant in late June/July transplant the young plants as for Broccoli. Compact varieties 1ft apart, larger varieties 18in apart, spring cabbages
only 4in apart thin out to 1ft apart from February onward using the thinning's as your spring greens. Water and feed as for Broccoli. Harvest the Cabbages by cutting through the stem just
above ground level at the same time cut a deep cross in the stump and you will get a second crop of tiny cabbages. Collect the seeds from the plants you are keeping for next years
Cauliflowers. To grow perfect cauliflowers you will need a rich and deep soil and there
mustn't be a check to growth, so careful planting and watering are essential. Sow thinly 1/2 inche deep in rows 6" apart in March and May in a rich and deep soil. Thin to 3" apart when 1"
high. Transplant to growing position when plants have five or six leaves, Water well before and after transplanting. Space 2ft apart or closer for smaller heads. Cauliflowers are hungry so
regularly water and feed with a liquid fertiliser . Important not to check growth regular watering is essential. Harvest when the heads are firm. Collect the seeds from the plants you are
keeping for next years seeds.
Brussels sprouts are sown from March to
April thin out to about 3" apart. Transplant when 4-6" high about 2.5ft apart in firm soil containing plenty of humus. Important to water well before and after transplanting. Water and feed
regularly with home made liquid fertiliser. The sprouts should be just about plump enough and ready to pick for Christmas. Collect the seeds from the plants you are keeping for next year's
Potatoes are a easy vegetables to grow, buy a few
seed potatoes from your local seed shop or better still ask an allotment holder or gardener for a few of his seed potatoes. Plant them in a trench and as they grow pull the soil up around the
stems. This is important as uncovered potatoes will turn green, keep them well watered in dry weather. They can also be grown in old buckets and large flowerpots. Also can be grown through
winter in a greenhouse.
Cherry tomatoes can be grown from seed or seedlings in late spring. Best in a
greenhouse or try against a sunny south facing wall.
Spinach is very easy to grow. The slugs and
caterpillars seem to leave spinach alone. Its planted directly into the garden and thinned out when they come up. Pick the leaves as you need them.
Radish. Very easy salad vegetables to grow, with a nice spicy tangy flavour sow direct into the garden.
Lettuce can be easily grown. Sow small
amounts throughout spring and summer. They will need protecting from slugs and snails, try planting them between rows of spinach for natural pest control. Cress Sow in small butter tubs in
about an inch of homemade compost.
Courgettes are best grown in
a greenhouse from seed, but try transplanting a few out into a sunny part of your garden. They will need regular watering. One problem I have found is that some baby courgettes fall
of the plant and rot, so don't panic this seems to be normal, but if you know of a solution please share it with me.
Carrots are quite easy to grow in fine soil, but if you don't mind some odd shapes (we are out of the EU) they are also OK grown in
stony soil too. Carrot fly is a problem particularly in the second year. Try companion planting pest
control it is a bit trial and error, but worth the effort when you pull and taste your first organic carrots.
Don't fancy growing from seed. The best way if you can, is to buy organic seeds and grow your own plants from
seed. However, if you are sourcing your plants from a garden centre. Be aware that;
Plants for sale in most large garden chain-stores will be grown using chemical fertilisers and pesticides. As well as bringing some of these
chemicals into your garden. The plants will be addicted to the chemicals and may show signs of stress for a while as they are weaned off.
- When selecting vegetables plants to be gown organically choose a gardener's shop that clearly labels organic plants.
- Also check the plants and the root system for signs of insect or disease problems. If the plant looks straggly and weak, return them to the shelf, even if it is reduced in price. Only
introduce strong healthy plants into a chemical free Organic garden.
Eight things that will help make your vegetable garden project a success.
- When Selecting a bit of garden to make a vegetable patch in. Choose an area that is out of the way of where the kids and the dog like to play, this ensures the kids and dog won't get muddy
and the plants don't get trampled.
- Try to use an area that gets at least a half days sunshine as most plants like a bit of sunshine. However, if the only part of the garden you can use is in shade don't despair, some
vegetables do OK in shade check out tips listed here.
- Seeds are relatively cheap so sow a few more than it says on the packet and you won't have to worry about the birds helping themselves to a few.
- Don't over water, you could wash away the soil's nutrients. A simple guide is to keep the soil moist not muddy.
- No need to buy fertilisers especially if you are aiming to grow organic. Instead compost your kitchen waste, it is easy, cheaper, and a lot more ECO friendly.
Artificial fertilisers will produce bigger, but not better harvest. Taste the difference between tomatoes imported from Holland and tomatoes grown in an English
cottage garden. How to make compost.
If space is limited don't grow to many of one type of vegetable, maybe a few more
of the stuff you like and a little less of the stuff you don't like. More variety is better than a lot of the same thing.
- To prevent disease it is a good ideal to rotate your vegetables and not grow the same crops in the same place year after year.
- Collect seeds from plants that go to seed, for next year's harvest.
Some of my other pages that might help.
Daily Telegraph research found that a
basket of six fruit and five vegetables from Tesco and Sainsbury's costs £37.20, compared to just £21.01 on average from four different independent greengrocers around the
country. Why pay £16 more for a basket of six fruit and five vegetables, plus the cost of driving to the supermarket. Keep it simple and shop locally.
We throw our hands in the air every time our local Butchers, Bakers, Greengrocers and Post office gives up the battle with the supermarket, but don't
support them when they are open, preferring to buy and eat fruit and veg that has gone around the world twice, instead of buying local produce that is on average, £16 cheaper for a basket of six fruit and five vegetables.We let supermarkets get away with charging far more for fruit and veg
than they should.