Growing your own veg is not only super efficient to the environment, its efficient in reducing your food bill. We live in an age where a pack of frozen chicken nuggets costs less than a broccoli and slowly our nation is becoming more at risk with childhood obesity. Eating fresh veg not only gives you the nutrients you need to stay healthy, it gives kids and adults alike more energy and get up and go. It makes for exciting meals, such as a vegetable bake or vegetable stir fry.
Growing vegetables is also a fun and worthwhile past time. Caring for and nurturing your vegetables as they grow only takes up a short amount of your time and the results happen before you know it. Here is a quick guide on some of the basic veg to grown, its benefits and care instructions.
Carrots are root vegetables and as with all root veg, you need good quality soil to begin the germination process. Digging thoroughly through your soil and removing any weeds or stones will help the root to spread lower, giving your root veg more anchorage and helping them to grow to their potential full size. Growing in a greenhouse will be more beneficial to carrots as you can help to keep away carrot fly easier and give warmth to your veg.
It’s best to sow carrot seeds in the early spring of March or April, any earlier as you will need fleecing to protect the seedlings any earlier than this. Sow your seeds lightly, only 1inch deep and make sure your sowing is thinly spread and equal.
Carrots don’t actually need much attention apart from regular watering so the root doesn’t turn woody. And come June-July, you should start pulling up your carrots as they will have reached their potential size.
Chitting is a term used to describe the sprouting of potato seeds before planting. You should start chitting ideally by February and start planting your sprouting potatoes in Mid March to early April.
Potatoes are again a vegetable that don’t take much care once they are planted but ensuring that you planted each tuber 5-7inches deep, with 9-12inches separation from each one will help your potatoes to grow without being crowded. Every week you should unearth your potatoes and make sure just the base of the stem of your seedling is showing.
Growing onions is quite a tricky task if you don’t have the right soil. They don’t particularly like growing in nitrogen rich soils so stay away from fertiliser and other nitrogen based soils. Onions also don’t like wet soil, they like to be a bit dry enabling them to expand but sucking the moisture available.
Seeds should be sowed from January-February onwards until mid Spring, and should be dispersed randomly as the onions will grow and push away from each other as they expand. They should be sowed at 10-15 degrees Celsius and pushed 5inches into the ground in clumps of no more than 5 or 6 seeds.
Unearth your onions in late September, early October to maximise their growth time, as onions take quite a while to reach their full potential size.
Growing squash takes careful consideration and a process of elimination. Sow seeds on their sides, about 2 inches deep into well fertilised soil and as the seeds begin to germinate and grow stems, eliminate the weaker seedling. Keeping it will only create crowding for the stronger seedling and could result in both plantings failing.
It is important to keep squash well watered and looked after, as the fruit needs plenty of moisture in order to swell and grow. Like Squash, Courgettes and Marrow are heavily water based, and in order to make their flesh nutritious and moist, they need to be sheltered from too much sunlight.
Unearthing your squash depends on size and type of seed. Squash, such as the butternut variety can grow to up to 20cm in size, but this will take steady watering and many months to reach full maturity.
These types of vegetables can also be kept for a long time after harvesting, as long as they are kept at a temperature between 7.5 and 10 degrees Celsius.
Broccoli is one the best vegetables you can grow at home in your garden or greenhouse. Not only is it ridiculously expensive at the supermarkets, it’s sometimes hard to get hold of. Broccoli is a sought after and popular vegetable because of all the iron and antioxidants it contains. Not only do these help the body to fight off disease, it helps to strengthen our immune systems, which is great news for growing children.
Now, to plant broccoli you can either seed in pots and transfer to soil or seed straight into soil.
If you are seeding straight into soil, then firstly, make sure your soil is rich in moisture and fertiliser. Place your seeds 1/4 of an inch into the soil and about 3 inches apart. As the plant flowers, you will have to dramatically reduce the number of wasteful plants to help your successful germinations break through.
Broccoli is a very thirsty plant and require due care and attention. Be careful not to over water your seeds and drown the plant. As it starts to flower, you will see the heads (broccoli we recognise in a supermarket) start to bloom. Once they have reached full size, about 10cm across in diameter, you are ready to slice away your broccoli from the stalk with a sharp blade.
So there you have it, a quick introduction to growing some basic veg, the BBC website is a fantastic resource for further vegetable growing and seasonal vegetables to take you right through the year. Happy planting.