Growing your own vegetables comes with so many benefits, there is no wonder it has increased in popularity. By participating in this hobby, you can have a positive impact not only on your health but on the environment too, all while saving money. By growing your own, and knowing the easiest veggies to grow, you can successfully bring organic, cheap vegetables into your kitchen on a regular basis. Vegetables can be picked fresh on the same day and no nutrients are lost through the journey from farm to supermarket.
Not only is eating your own vegetables good for your physical health, it’s also great for your mental health. To find out more on the reason people garden, read our blog ‘8 reasons why you should start gardening’.
Before jumping in, there are a few things you need to consider, including preparing the soil for planting and which are the easiest veggies to grow. Like any new skill, practice makes perfect, so don’t be disgruntled if it doesn’t go right the first time. To give you a head start, here are 6 tips to set you off on the right track.
Choose your ground
Your first big decision is where to place your plot. Getting the best out of your crops is so important. You should choose a spot where your veggies will have full exposure to the sun, away from shady areas. Ensure your plot is in a stable area, not somewhere that is prone to flooding. You should also ensure you can shelter your plants from the wind. This can be done using barriers such as a fence or a hedge, or a hay bale for something temporary. For reference, a 1m windbreak can protect 5m. The spot should be away from long grass so that slugs and snails have nowhere to hide if they decide to attack your plot. Depending on your location, the windbreaks can usually be removed at the end of Spring as the winds die down.
Start small, don’t take on too much too soon. A small plot is manageable and over time your plot size can increase alongside your confidence.
If you can find a spot without a weed in sight, you’re onto a winner! Although, we know how hard this can be, so if you can’t find a weed-free plot, make sure you give it a thorough weeding. All perennial weeds should be removed from your plot. This can be done by covering the plot with mulch for a few weeks to suffocate them, then removed by hand or hoe.
Alternatively consider the no-dig approach. A gardening technique that helps reduce weeds without needing to take on the heavy task of digging. Read our blog ‘The Ultimate Guide to No-dig’ to start you off.
An important tip when growing veg is to rotate what you plant in your plot. Some veggies take in more nutrients than others so by rotating what is planted, the chances of the soil becoming depleted in nutrients is decreased.
An example of this is brassicas, which are hungry crops. Plant beans or peas in that area the following year as they are not so hungry. By continually planting the same crop type in the same area, year on year, pests and diseases begin to build up.
For optimal results, it’s best not to plant the same crop variety in the same spot for four years, so a great way to split your plot is into quadrants and keep a note of what is planted and where. Perennial plants are an exception to this, they can grow in the same place year after year. For more information on crop rotation, click here.
Build raised beds
Raised beds aren’t necessary when growing veggies but come with a lot of benefits. Managing your plot can become easier in a raised bed, as it is contained within its border and a lot easier on the back. It’s also great if your ground isn’t ideal to grow in. Place a thick layer of compost over the top. To create your raised bed, choose wood that is durable such as cedar, oak or redwood.
By increasing the thickness of the soil, the temperature increases too which can help speed up the germination process. Being above ground level gives you a huge advantage over slugs and snails!
Preparing your soil for planting
Preparing the soil is just as important as the growth itself. Generally, plants need rich, moist and aerated (well-drained) soil with neutral acidity, however, some plants may require a different environment.
There are simple tasks you can do to test what kind of soil you have. If when you try to form the soil into a ball it holds together or is hard and compact, it is clay-based. If it is the opposite, dry and crumbly, then it is sand based. To check the drainage within your soil, pour a bucket of water over it. You will know your soil is aerated if the water is easily absorbed.
To find out more, read out ‘5 Simple Tips to Prepare Soil for Spring’.
Easiest veggies to grow
Now comes the part in which you are most interested, what veggies are the easiest to grow? The vegetables selected below are not only the easiest to grow, but also the quickest. Some of the veg can be described as ‘cut and come again based on how quickly they grow back after harvest. Perfect for those new to growing their own.
Below is a list of the easiest veggies to grow:
-Peas (e.g. snow peas)
-Early potatoes (or new potatoes)
Veg that are more fragile in the early growing stages do better in pots in a warm place, away from wind or frost. Once the plants become established, they can then be transferred into your plot. To support your plants in their early growing stages, consider using Envii Foundation, a product that helps build resilience and protect plants against disease.
Lettuce is one of the easiest veggies to grow. Harvest the outer leaves as and when you need them, leaving the plant itself intact.
Chard is easy to grow, and if you can get your hands on the rainbow variety, it looks great too. When the leaves are a size that you believe you could cook, cut the chard a few centimetres up from the base. The small leaves left will become the next harvest.
Tomatoes are a popular fruit to grow and are to an extent easy, however, they do need a lot of attention. The outcome, of course, is rewarding but ensure you can set aside enough time to tend to them.