Nothing beats eating the veggies you have grown yourself. You appreciate them more than shop bought ones and, not only have you helped reduce your carbon wellyprint, you will also be eating veggies packed full of nutrients and goodness, as they have been picked and eaten almost immediately.
If this is your first foray into the world of veg growing and you would like your own patch, then here are our chef patron and gourmet gardener, John’s helpful hints for getting started as winter is the perfect time to get planning for the spring season coming up next year.
1. Start with a small plot of just a few square metres, allowing you scope but also not overloading you with too much work.
2. When planning your patch avoid areas exposed to strong winds or that are heavily shaded by trees.
3. Plants that you use often need to be sited nearer your home than other ones. So herbs and salads should be closer to your backdoor, so you can just pop out and snip them with ease when you need them for dinner. Fruit trees require less attention so can go at the back of the plot.
4. Make sure your plot has easy access to water.
5. Factor into your plan space for a compost heap and water butts.
6. Before you start in the spring, clear away the weeds or grass, then dig over the soil adding manure and compost. Try not to tread on the soil too much or it will compact.
7. Raised beds are excellent as they are much simpler to maintain with less digging required in the long-run. Don’t make them wider than 1.2 metres so you can reach the plants in the middle and leave space for paths wide enough for a wheelbarrow between them.
8. Keep your planting schemes simple and start with easy to grow varieties such as garlic, onions, potatoes, leeks, courgettes, broad beans and chard.
9. Rotation is key – to prevent the soil from becoming exhausted and to prevent the spread of diseases rotate your crops each year. Go for at least three beds and have legumes (peas and beans) in one, roots (potatoes and carrots and similar) in another and brassicas (cabbage and broccoli and the like) in the third.
10. Some people like to have five beds and to keep potatoes in one on their own and onions in another. The idea is then to move the different plant groups around, so they occupy a different bed each year.