Grow your own vegetables

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A begginers guide to growing your own vegetables to save a few pounds and enjoy eating and maybe selling the surplus vegetables you grow

The LINKS  lead to other pages on my site providing more detailed information.

 

Preparing soil for growing your own. 

 I'm assuming you are not going to use Chemical fertilisers or weed-killer, the cost will far negate the savings you are going to make growing your own. The Cottagers didn't use chemicals !!

 

The only sure way to know you are eating chemical free fruit and vegetables is to grow your own, If the area is water logged you will need to sort it out before you dig it over.  

 

If you are planning to turn a lawn into a planting area for fruit and veg, you will need to remove the turf, the easiest way is to cover the area with black plastic until the grass rots.

 

A quick way is to remove the turf with a spade, mark out squares about 2" deep with a sharp spade and 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, its 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 heap.

Sandy soil is easier to dig but doesn'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 harder to dig but has most of the essential nutrients vegetable plants need. Improving clay soil  or grow plants for clay soil

 

How to test your type of garden soil

you may prefer the no dig gardening method explained here Gardening without digging 

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 but 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.

 

How can I sell and make money from home grown fruit and vegetables? Yes you can.

 

Realistically none of us make a lot of money from the fruit and vegetables we grow our-self, But there are a few ways to sell your home grown produce and cover your costs and maybe make a bit of spare cash.

A few selling tips can be found on this page. Have any of your own tips please let us know so we can pass them on.

 

Selecting plants.

For organically-grown plants choose a gardeners shop that clearly labels organic plants. The best way if you can, is to buy organic seeds and grow your own plants from seed. 

If you are sourcing your plants from a garden center be aware that the plants grown for sale in the large modern garden centers will be grown using chemical fertilizers and pesticides and 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.  

Also check the plants and the root system for signs of insect or disease problems. If the plant looks straggly and weak, put it back even if its reduced in price. Only introduce strong healthy plants into a chemical free Organic garden.


Some easy to sow and grow vegetables

These vegetables are easy to 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 home made 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.
Collect the seeds from the plants you are keeping for next years seeds.

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'll get a second crop of tiny cabbages. Collect the seeds from the plants you are keeping for next years seeds.


Cauliflowers.  To grow perfect cauliflowers you'll 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 " 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. Should be just about plump enough and ready to pick for Christmas. Collect the seeds from the plants you are keeping for next years seeds.

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 and thru 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 beet 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 home made 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 they are OK in stony soil too. Carrot fly is a problem particularly in the second year. Try companion planting pest control its a bit trial and error but worth the effort when you pull and taste your first organic carrots.

 

To prevent disease  its a good ideal to rotate your vegetables and not grow the same crops in the same place in your garden year after year. 

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.

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