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Growing and eating your own vegetables is one of life’s true pleasures. It’s healthier, tastier, cheaper and better for the environment than buying your produce from the supermarket.
Knowing that the veg you eat for dinner have gone from your own patch to your plate is really rewarding, although admittedly it can be hard work and take a bit of patience. So dig into our five starting steps for newbie gardeners…
1. Get the right kit
You don’t need to buy anything extravagant to create a veggie patch: all you need is a spade to dig the earth, a hoe to help clear weeds and shape the soil, and a rake to break down and even out the ground.
You might also want to consider buying a compost bin and wheelbarrow, so you can start making your own compost from food waste, and transfer it over to your veg patch. Another good idea is to buy a rain barrel, so you can keep your veggies watered with chlorine-free water.
Make sure you’ve got some comfy clothes to work in, and that you don’t mind getting muddy, as well as a good pair of garden boots. And to help you clean up any dirt brought indoors, use Flash Ultra Power Wipes, which remove up to 100% of dirt, grease and grime. That way, you can clean up the muck and throw the wipe away, so you won’t contaminate your cleaning cloths with outdoor germs.
2. Find the perfect spot
Vegetables are a bit like Brits abroad: they love to sunbathe! So the perfect place for your veggie patch is in a nice sunny spot. Just make sure that it’s sheltered from the wind by a low fence or wall.
3. Get your soil sorted
If your prospective patch is covered in grass, dig it up but don’t waste the turf. Flip it over and stack it out of the way, where it will break down into top soil, perfect for using on your patch down the line.
Clear the area of any weeds, and improve thin or clay-heavy top soil with a couple of inches of compost. Work this into the earth until it reaches about six inches deep.
If your top soil is thin, you may need to raise your patch. That means lining the edges with railway sleepers.
4. Plan the perfect patch
A bit like a seating plan, it takes careful consideration before deciding where to plant what – certain vegetables have different needs and growth space, so they don’t get on well right next to each other.
If you want a relatively comprehensive patch, it’s best to divide it into at least four sections. One for root vegetables, one for legumes, one for salad leaves and herbs, and one for anything else, like courgettes, sweetcorn, asparagus and leafy greens. Divide the sections using trodden earth, shingle or a brick boundary that’s at least 75cm wide.
Keep track of what you’ve planted where by drawing an outline of the patch and layering it with tracing paper. Note your veggies on the tracing paper, and layer the map with more noted paper as you plant more seeds.
Each year, you should rotate your veggies to reduce a build-up of crop-related pests and diseases.
5. Pick what you’ll plant
This largely comes down to what you want to eat! For beginners, quick and easy producers include:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Climbing beans
- Peas and broad beans
For advice on growing specific vegetables, and for further gardening tips, check out the Royal Horticultural Society website.
Good luck! And let us know how you get on in the comments section below.