Gardening’s always been a lovely pastime – and right now it’s enjoying a huge boom in popularity as people get inspired by popular TV shows such as the BBC’s Big Allotment Challenge.
So if you’re planning to roll up your sleeves and having a go at growing your own, this is the place to start – and don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert.
In fact, you don’t even need a great deal of outdoor space to grow healthy, beautiful veg for the pot.
If you’re an absolute beginner, it’s a good idea to ask advice, and you’ll find the people at your local nursery or garden centre will be more than happy to help.
You can grow veg from seed – for example, lettuce is an excellent, quick grower, and if you choose a ‘cut and come again’ variety you can pinch off leaves to eat a fresh salad whenever you want. Delicious!
However, many people buy ‘plug’ plants from nurseries, which are baby plants ready to plant out – that way, you can be sure your vegetables are off to a good strong start.
Before you invest, do some planning. Take a look at the space you have available and think about the veg you and your family like to eat. Then ask an expert for tips or do a bit of research online to choose the plants that will work best in your plot – the Royal Horticultural Society’s website at www.rhs.org has lots of tips.
Some vegetables, such as courgettes, spread out and like a lot of space, so wouldn’t work well in a tiny area. Others, such as carrots and radishes, grow in a row and need less room.
You might think potatoes would need a big plot, but you can actually grow them in a container successfully, producing a nice crop almost on your doorstep.
Strawberries also love a pot, although they grow well in the ground too – and even a sunny windowsill can be drafted in as a spot to grow tomatoes, chillies and herbs – see our herb guide for some tips.
You’ll need to do some careful preparation of your plot to make sure the soil is well-dug and free from weeds, but you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. A spade, fork and a good trowel will do the trick, along with some elbow power from you!
And remember – it’s tempting, when faced by the glorious array of young plants on offer at this time of year, to go over the top. Be cool as a cucumber and choose your plants with care – and you’ll be enjoying your own home-grown veg in a matter of weeks.