Easy To Grow Vegetables for Small Gardens

Easy To Grow Vegetables

The desire for a more back to basics lifestyle has meant that more of us than ever are trying to grow our own vegetables even trying to introduce it to our children. There is nothing better than harvesting your first crop of carrots or potatoes, but many people with tiny gardens think that they simply don’t have the space for growing anything at all, that couldn’t be further from the truth, grow walls have proved we can grow upwards rather than outwards. This is not the case, and there are vegetables which can be grown in tiny spaces, on balconies, in pots or in other very restricted spaces, of course the best gardening tools always help in tight spots.

Beetroot

Beetroot is very good for you, and is one of the easiest crops to grow. All that you need to grow beetroot is a long narrow container such as a trough, as the seeds need to be sown at least 9 inches apart. Beetroot seeds should be sown in April, slightly earlier if you have a propagator, and should be ready to be harvested in late summer around August with the many other jobs. They withstand the cold well so are good for growing on a balcony or directly into the earth(here’s how to take steps to make sure your soil is tip top) if you don’t have a greenhouse, and they do not require a great deal of looking after. Some of the best varieties to look for as a beginner gardener are Red Ace or Golden Detroit. Beetroot is traditionally eaten pickled in vinegar, but can also be eaten as a normal vegetable, or even added to sweet dishes like a chocolate cake.

Courgette

Courgettes give you a high yield, meaning that you get a lot of vegetables from a relatively small space. You can grow courgettes from seeds, but it is easiest to buy young plants from trays in spring and then put them out in the garden once the weather gets warmer. Courgettes will continue to grow throughout the summer, so as soon as the first fruits get to around 10cm long, cut them and use them and more will grow in their place. Many newbie gardeners find that their courgette crop is so successful that they have a glut of the fruits and simply cannot use all of the courgettes they produce. If this happens, a glut of courgettes can be turned into chutney, soup or other dishes which can be frozen and kept for months.

Rocket

There is nothing better than having a fresh supply of salad leaves on tap at all times, and one of the easiest to grow is rocket. Rocket does not take long to grow over the warmer months, so sow new plants every 2 or 3 weeks in a small tub or pot at the back door to ensure there is a constant supply of fresh leaves throughout the spring and summer. Keep it watered when the weather turns hot, and it can be grown as late in the year as September or October. Bare in mind Rocket will send the slugs crazy. Rocket has to be eaten fresh as the leaves do not keep well or freeze, and so it is best to only plant as much rocket as you are going to be able to eat comfortably. Gardening is good for you when you’re eating such quality produce.

Pumpkin

You will need a little more space to grow a pumpkin, as experts recommend that you need one square metre of space for two plants. Pumpkins can be easily grown from seed, although they cannot be planted outdoors until the last frosts of the year have passed. Once planted they will not require a great deal of attention, although it is usually best to raise them up off the soil using straw or an upturned pot. Pumpkins and other types of squash are generally ready to be harvested in September or October, and there is nothing better than making your pumpkin lantern out of something you have grown yourself. Pumpkin can be kept for several months after it has been harvested and can be cooked and frozen for use over the winter months. Make sure you keep the seeds as you can have more free plants next year.

Peas

Kids love to grow peas and enjoy the excitement of popping them out of their pods when ripe. The benefit of growing peas is that they grow vertically rather than horizontally, making them a good choice for growing on a balcony or in a sunny spot in the back garden. It is best to sow peas between March and June, and the crop should be ready to harvest in around 14 weeks. Mange tout and sugar snap peas are the easiest sorts of peas to grow, with the added bonus that you can eat the pods too.

If you’re feeling different you could give a Tomtato a go or perhaps some really super hot chillis.

 

‘TomTato’ Plant Combines Tomatoes and Potatoes Into One Epic Creation!

source : www.pinterest.com

Tomatoes and potato plants as separate crops? Pfft, that’s old news! The humble peasants of the past that farmed these green lands would no doubt be amazed at how far things have come since those days. They may even have thought that the newly launched ‘TomTato’ plant verged on black magic, amazingly we can do this at home with a sharp knife or secateurs with wire and a wrap, given that it gives you the best of both worlds by combining the fruit and vegetable types together, this takes creative gardening to a whole new level.

Above ground the ‘TomTato’ plant looks like your normal every day cherry tomato plant, but dig deeper(with a decent fork) and you may be surprised to uncover some potatoes hiding in the dirt. Given the amount of crop growth, fertiliser and soil quality is vitally important. This strange ‘mutant plant’ not to be confused with fascination, isn’t a product of genetic engineering though, it’s produced through a grafting process that takes advantage of Tomatoes and Potatoes being members of the nightshade family – thus being compatible! The result gives you over 500 cherry tomatoes and a decent sized crop of potatoes – ready for turning into chips! More surprising still, this plant grows in a plant pot or, trough, better yet a self watering trough. Combined with decent compost you’ve a remarkably frugal and efficient garden technique.

Plant and seed sellers Thompson & Morgan have developed the plant, calling it a “world exclusive”. However, it’s worth nothing that it’s not the first time this has been attempted, although Thompson & Morgan say that their technique is different – having taken 10 years to perfect – and the result is tastier. There is a way to do it yourself, although you won’t get the same results as you would if you bought one of these new plants. It’s quite a skilled process, as the Telegraph explains;

Mr Hansord said it was “very difficult to achieve the TomTato because the tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work – it is a very highly-skilled operation.

“They start off joined together by a plastic clip, then the clip pops off as they grow and they’re transferred into a 9cm pot and grow normally.”

source : www.pinterest.com

Speaking of buying, at £14.99 each the plants aren’t exactly cheap, especially as they only last for one season. Despite the price, these types of plants may be the future; especially in countries that have high populations but a lack of space(urban areas) in which to grow separate crops. We just have to be hopeful that they retain the same – or better – quality.

What two types of food would you like to see combined? Pretty soon we’ll be growing carrots on the backs of chickens! Well, that’s a little over the top but here’s an article on rearing chickens instead.

planting plants

Don’t be fooled by the change-over to British Summer Time

This weekend British gardeners will be gearing up for the change-over to spring time as the clocks go back. Some of us probably put a good bit of work into our garden over Winter in preparation for the Spring & Summer.

But don’t be fooled into thinking there’s no more frosts on the horizon. After all, we’ve had snow before in April and I’ve even had my snow shovel out! So, think twice about putting your vegetables into the ground round about now, even though on the surface it might seem the sensible thing to do. Rest assured it’s not! Some smart gardeners are still using a propagator to bring their little seedlings along.

Go for a bit of early Spring planting

Instead, go for a bit of simple planting. Grab a couple of plant trays, your favourite vegetables that fair well in a colder environment, and a hand fork. I invested in a planting workbench but really any old table would do. For a start it’s not a good idea to turn over wet soil as this will result in large clumps which will probably, over the next few weeks, turn into solid, unmanageable clumps. Instead, it’s best to have patience and just allow your soil dry out. If ever there was a tip on soil preparation that would be it. The amount of work moving wet soil creates is three fold that of dry soil with a good garden fork. If you’re fortunate enough to be in possession of raised vegetable beds then add compost from the bins to the top layer and sow your seeds directly into the compost. That way you don’t have to worry about disturbing any wet soil.

sow your seeds directly into the compost

Think about vegetables that will thrive in colder climes such as Swiss chard, carrots, beets, lettuce and other greens. These seeds will all bide their time until the soil temperature is right for them to start springing through. It’s actually a good idea to think about covering them with plastic or some other recommended cloth to keep them warm. A propagator as mentioned before is ideal to create this environment earlier to stimulate an early crop. Water them really gently, using a hand pump spray gun that can produce a fine mist.

If you’re thinking of growing more Mediterranean vegetables this year such as zucchini, peppers and beans, don’t even consider this until mid-May at least. A possible encounter with frost for these crops is a big no-no and will only end in tears. It’s not worth the effort.

If you’re more of a flower hand, then get down to planting violas or even pansies right now as these are two pretty species which can stand the late winter frosts. But do them a favour and confine them to plant pots or troughs rather than putting them straight into the ground as they’ll be better protected that way and you can move them into the conservatory if it gets too cold or wet.

planting violas
Viola

Think daffodils. These bright and cheery flowers enliven the day for everyone who is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them. And for those who live in countryside near deer, rest-assured these animals simply don’t like the taste of them!

Now is a good time to prune any grapes if you have them. Cut back to four to six inches and be quite harsh when it comes to pruning. Make sure your shears or secateurs are really sharp.

Another thing we’d advise – sorry, we can’t resist this – plant now or forever hold your peas! One of the oldest cultivated vegetables around these lovely veg are easy to grow and definitely well worth the effort. They like the cool weather and taste gorgeous fresh from the garden – especially in stir frys or soups. They also beautifully complement a starchy accompaniment such as pasta or potatoes and can be kept fresh with a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice.

These can be planted as soon as you feel confident the soil is fresh (and not too wet) to turn over. Just make sure you have appropriate pest control in place, for both insects and slugs. Peas like the cooler weather but hate the wet.

Peas need support and it’s a good idea to set up trellising either with mesh, fencing or other plants. Cover them with around two inches of firm soil and you’ll be rewarded big time.

Whatever vegetables – or flowers – you go for this March/April though, always bear in mind the potential spring frosts.