Its official - Gardening is Good for You #GIGFY
Whether it's in your own garden or down at an allotment it's a great way to get exercise, reduce stress, meet new friends ......and save money by growing your own crops.
Nothing beats eating crops that you have grown yourself. If you were lucky enough to have started growing your own at an early age, guided by parents or grandparents, then you’ll know the pleasure eating fresh crops straight from the garden can bring. If you have never grown any of your own fruit and veg make 2019 the year you give it a go. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did when you enjoy sun-sweetened tomatoes straight from the vine or waxy potatoes freshly dug then cooked.
If you’ve never grown anything before the thought may seem overwhelming but believe me, it doesn’t have to be. Allotment waiting lists are growing (no pun intended) and garden sizes are shrinking, but you can easily grow a fantastic selection in containers in a balcony, courtyard or patio. Even a kitchen windowsill can produce a crop of useful herbs or salad.
If you have space to put in a greenhouse or perhaps a polytunnel, this will extend your growing season, but some clever uses of cloches or mini tunnels will also provide some targeted protection.
If you have an outdoor area but space is limited then climbing vegetables can be a great solution, runner beans, French beans, even climbing courgettes will all grow upwards, leaving a valuable ground space for under-planting. Raised beds are also useful for a smaller garden. The concentrated growing area tends to get warm by the early spring sun much quicker than a traditional plot and easy access all the way around means that soil isn’t damaged by trampling during the wetter months.
Growing from seed is one of the most gratifying ways of growing your own and without doubt, provides the most peas for your pound. You also have a far greater choice of varieties to the usual run of the mill. Having said that if this is your first time and you don’t have space for loads of plants anyway then getting a few plants from the garden centre or nursery can provide you with a great start and you won’t get that heartbreaking moment when you have thirty tomato plants that you don’t know what to do with and you can’t bear to send your babies to the big compost heap in the sky.
Our Top 10
These are our ‘Top Ten’ suggestions for easy but rewarding crops for you to try in 2019.
2. Potatoes - Classified as either first earlies, second earlies or maincrops. Early varieties are ready to harvest much sooner than maincrops, generally June. First earlies are best for first-time growers; there are less pests and diseases to worry about and the new potato flavour is much better when own grow than supermarkets.
3. Strawberries get young plants from the nursery in spring and plant either in the ground, pots or hanging baskets choosing either summer-fruiting strawberries that produce a heavy flush of larger fruits in early and mid- summer or perpetual-fruiting strawberries that produce fruit in flushes from early summer all the way through to early autumn.
4. Radishes – so easy to grow from seed as they mature in around four weeks. Just keep on sowing a small patch all season long.
5. Onions and Shallots - are easiest to grow from sets (small immature bulbs) available at your local garden nursery. Plant them in late winter for a July harvest. Low maintenance they don’t take up much room and can also be grown in wide containers.
6. Chilli peppers and bell peppers – Get these sown as early as you can, i.e. now, in in a propagator. For best results they really need to be kept indoors either in a greenhouse or on a windowsill.
7. Peas - sow directly outdoors March to June. Provide netting or twigs for the tendrils to grow up and water regularly. They’re ready to pick in about 12 weeks so keep sowing for an ongoing harvest.
8. Raspberries - choose either summer or autumn fruiting varieties or maybe both. If you’re looking for ease then Autumn fruiting varieties are the ones to go for. You don’t have to worry about pruning, just cut the whole bush back when its finished fruiting.
9. Herbs - great for beginners and ideal even if you don’t have a garden as they can be grown on your kitchen windowsill. Extremely useful for anyone who cooks to keep a selection of their favourites.
10. Salad Crops – there are a wide range of leafy salads and vegetable crops that can be cut and will then sprout (come again). Harvesting the young leaves when you need them prevents plants from maturing and ensures several harvests of small, tender, mild-flavoured leaves over a long period of time.
Happy Harvesting and Yummy Eating!!