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Novice gardener wants to grow veg/fruit - advice needed.

(15 Posts)
Rugbylovingmum Thu 04-Nov-10 09:48:02

Hi all,

I'm a total novice when it comes to gardening - the most I've ever done is grow a few herbs in containers. We have just moved house and now have a small lawn in front of the house and a medium-sized garden at the back. My dad gave us an apple and a plum tree and a few tomato plants when we moved in and DD (13 months) has loved picking and eating fruit from the garden. I'd really like to try growing a few more veggies/fruit with DD but I have no idea where to start. What would you suggest? I need things that are easy to grow and I'd like to have things growing for as much of the year as possible. DD loves almost all fruit and veg so she'll eat anything we can grow. I don't want to dig out a large veg plot so can I grow some things in small beds then use containers? I was thinking about another couple of fruit/berry bushes but I'm not sure how much space they need.

DD also loves watching birds and butterflies in the garden (her playroom has the french doors out to the back garden and we sit in front of them in the morning watching our friendly local blackbird eating worms). I was thinking about getting a bird table/feeders to encourage more birds to come in but when we had feeders at our old place we got rats in the garden (we backed onto a farm though). Do most people find they can have feeders without getting rats?

Rugbylovingmum Thu 04-Nov-10 09:48:55

PS - can you also recommend any simple books with a monthly planner type thing

TaraFlapalata Thu 04-Nov-10 09:53:50

I'd like to do a similar thing, I've just bought this: r/dp/1846079748

I haven't actually got round to reading it yet but I've had a flick through and it has some lovely ideas - I'm hoping to get started in the spring

Rugbylovingmum Thu 04-Nov-10 10:00:55

Thanks TaraFlapalata, I'll have a look at that book.

throckenholt Thu 04-Nov-10 10:07:48

strawberries are easy to grow.

Runner beans - don't take up much space and give a good crop.

New potatoes - you can grow a few in pots if you like.

We live in the country and haven't noticed rats by the bird feeder. A neighbour puts out bread for birds and does get rats.

Unprune Thu 04-Nov-10 10:14:51

The River cottage lot do a book about growing veg: it's very readabe (ie not written by Hugh 'The Punmeister" FW hmm) and has charts and so on for what to plant when. It's a lovely little book and really useful.

Rugbylovingmum Thu 04-Nov-10 10:51:25

Thanks throckenholt - I'll avoid putting bread out then! I was thinking about growing potatoes and had seen some bags/sacks online. Strawberries and runner beans sound good too. Do you put strawberries in containers or in the garden?

Unprune - that book sounds lovely, time to check out the library.

Unprune Thu 04-Nov-10 11:12:11

We have strawberries both in a pot and planted in a bed, and they do well.
Courgettes can go in a big pot - we had some 3 or 4 nights a week in summer.
French beans (green beans) are easy to grow and very pretty.
We have one blackcurrant bush, which gives enough berries to make one small pot of jam, much appreciated by ds. There are loads of soft fruits to choose from; the garden centre will have a good selection. Blueberries in a pot can be very successful.
There's a lovely plant called Chaenomeles (also called japonica) which flowers in early spring, and can produce edible fruit - some varieties are better than others, you'd need to check. The fruit is called japanese quince - not the same as big yellow tree quinces - and makes really good, quite sour, jam or cheese. A bit different.

throckenholt Thu 04-Nov-10 11:14:48

rasbberries are easy too - someone was singing the praises of autumn gold recently.

bobs Thu 04-Nov-10 11:33:46

Ha - you made me smile with the butterflies - you won't like it when they decimate your caulis and brocolli!!!
First you need to establish a place for a veg patch if you are really serious about this - or if not, just buy a few large plastic pots and sow seeds in them suitable for containers - next spring tho as there's not much you can start off now except for a few late salad crops/pak choi etc.
What you can do now....
1. You need a reasonably sunny area - dig an area of ground over and incorporate manure (stables close by?) home made compost, chicken pellets from DIY stores or whatever to enrich the soil. If you do this now it will be great for next year
2. Go to a library or buy a book on veg growing throught the year - I have Carol Klein's "Grow your Own Veg" - not necessarily a recommendation but not bad.
3. Decide what you like to eat - no point growing stuff if you don't like it!
4. You might be able to buy cauli/brocolli plants to plant now for spring - check DIY centres.
5. Suggestions...I grown new potatoes in large dog food bags filled with home made compost
6. Runner beans are easy grown up a tripod
7. Tomatoes are good - esp are they are expensive in shops
8. Carrots are fun for kids - take a long time to mature imo tho
9. Courgettes are great - easy, expensive to buy, only need a couple of plants, can save seed from year to year
10. Strawberries look good in pots - remember that anything in pots needs watering
11. If you grow brassicas (cauli etc) you must put fleece/enviromesh over them or you will be nurturing generations of cabbage whites - and they don't tase as good grin
12. It is important to choose the right type of each veg - which is where a book comes in!
Suggest you get the ground sorted first, then read at your leisure for next spring!
Good Luck

evenkeel Sun 07-Nov-10 22:08:22

The Royal Horticultural Society site is worth checking out for good advice on veg growing - here. As is the BBC site

Once you've started off, OP, it'll become a joy - if not an addiction. I'd never grown a veg of any description before we came to our present garden, and now I grow loads every year, from tomatoes and potatoes to Jerusalem artichokes (though admittedly they don't need much help!) and asparagus. You could even start off some broad beans and peas now; Gardeners' Question Time on R4 today had all the can listen to that again on the BBC iplayer if you fancy.

Rugbylovingmum Mon 08-Nov-10 20:35:59

Thanks for all the advice. I've got a couple of books on order at the library and I'm just about to check out the bbc and royal horticultural websites - thanks evenkeel. I've been thinking about what we eat a lot of and my list of veg/fruit to try next year is:
perpetual spinach
purple sprouting broccoli

I'm not sure if that looks a bit ambitious but it gives us somewhere to start.

funtimewincies Wed 10-Nov-10 10:48:08

Might I recommend this site. If you need to post specific questions, we're all lovely (grin) and John's books are simple but brilliant (I've been growing for 10 years and still use all of mine).

compfan Thu 11-Nov-10 20:38:40

Raised beds are a good idea. You can buy them from garden centres or online. They make veg gardening very tidy and keep everything in order. (They are basically squares made of wood which are then filled with compost and soil and then planted with seeds or plants.

If you cant be bothered with growing from seed in the spring you can order plug plants of veg now, just like you can with border plants. HAPPY GARDENING!

drivingmisscrazy Thu 11-Nov-10 21:12:12

have a look at Joy Larkom's Grow Your Own Vegetables - no bells, whistles or smug photos, but a great text, brilliant advice and helpful month by month advice. There are helpful tips on virtually every vegetable you've ever heard of (and some you haven't). She doesn't cover fruit growing though

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