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How to grow your own veg, total gardening virgin...

(23 Posts)
AWholeLottaNosy Mon 05-Jan-15 19:04:13

Hi all, I'm useless at gardening but have inherited my dad's garden and thought I'd like to try my hand at growing some veg. Haven't got a clue at what to grow, or how to go about it. It's quite a long garden, I know my dad grew beans years ago but that's about it!

I'd love to grow herbs too as I do use them in cooking. I've bought some of the growing herbs in supermarkets but they seem to die quite quickly...

Any advice ( or book/website recommendations ), gratefully received! smile

Ferguson Tue 06-Jan-15 18:04:36

The main thing is to have fertile soil, with well rotted manure dug in (if you can get it) or else products like 6X, or cheaper Humix.

Test the soil with a test-kit from a garden centre or DIY place, to see if it is acid or alkali, as that will influence what you can grow successfully.

Have a compost bin if you can (it should stand on bare soil), and put all your veg or plant waste in it for making compost. BUT it can be difficult, as ideally a big load needs to be out in all at once, so it heats up and rots effectively.

If you have any neighbours who grow, get their advice, and it neighbours don't use their green waste see if you can have some.

A shredder helps get rid of tree stuff and plant material, and improves compost, but it is a big expense.

Leaf mould can be made (if you have trees shedding leaves) but it is a different process from composting, and takes a lot longer.

See if there is a gardening or allotment club in your area, or the National Garden Scheme (put in your postcode) but there may not be a great amount of activity in winter.

Try local libraries for books, magazines.

On-line, check RHS, BBC Gardeners World etc.

AWholeLottaNosy Tue 06-Jan-15 20:30:03

Thanks for that! Sounds

funnyperson Tue 06-Jan-15 20:39:32

There is a good book by james wong called the 'home grown revolution' or somesuch. As long as you resist the temptation to grow chard, cucamelons and black carrots you should be ok if you like digging and mulching..

More pragmatic and very practical is Dr DG Hessayon: the new vegetable and herb expert.

There isnt any really good single gardening book that deals with flowers and trees since Percy Thrower wrote his.

silversixpence Tue 06-Jan-15 21:15:14

I am a fairly new veg gardener but have recently acquired an allotment smile

I think it's best to start simple or you will get bogged down with all the detail. Be prepared that not everything will work!

Firstly, decide what you want to grow and whether you want to grow from seed or to buy seedlings. Rocket Gardens have an offer at the moment where they will send you veg plants at the correct time ready to go in the ground. It saves a lot of time and mess and you get plants in good condition. You can of course go to the garden centre and pick up seedlings in late spring.

With your soil, try and dig in a soil improver and clear big clumps and stones. I might try Marshall's organic extra this year but you can get well rotted manure as well.

The first year I started off with radishes, courgettes, tomatoes and runner beans with reasonable success.

TheSpottedZebra Wed 07-Jan-15 14:20:20

Oh no, what's wrong with chard and cupcake long - they were my big successes last year!

2014 was my 1st year of growing, and I am hooked. I have not really got a clue what I am doing, but I thoroughly enjoy it all the same. If you want a top tip from a rank amateur, it's the seemingly obvious - don't plant things that you won't want to eat! See, cucamelons above. I had tons of them.

I think the sensible thing is to try things that you love a lot, or are hard to buy in shops/expensive. So for me, I'd not bother with potatoes while I don't have much growing room as they take up so much space and are v v cheap.

Ooh, and know your pests and have a plan.My garden is very sluggy, so seedlings need extreme protection and certain plants would just be chomped. And we have packs of greedy pigeons too, so we also have to take them into account. But on the good side, loads of bees, and seemingly few insecty pests <touches wood>.

TheSpottedZebra Wed 07-Jan-15 14:20:48

Cupcake long? CUCAMELONS !

silversixpence Wed 07-Jan-15 14:28:02

There's a good RHS book called
Step by step veg patch which is a good starting point

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 07-Jan-15 14:31:37

Nowt wrong with chard!

OP - my advice, and I get paid to teach beginners fruit and veg growing is to pick a few things in year 1, say tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, lettuce and onions - and learn how to grow them well. Devote your time to just those things. As you learn more by experience than we can ever tell you.

Enb76 Wed 07-Jan-15 14:33:40

Start small. Grow some stuff you like the look of, see how it goes. You don't have to go all out.

AWholeLottaNosy Wed 07-Jan-15 16:54:48

Thanks all! Some good suggestions

TheSpottedZebra Wed 07-Jan-15 16:56:39

Funky - what would be your year 2 advice then? Please say it is to obsess about seeds, and plan for a gajillion varieties of tomato...

DayLillie Wed 07-Jan-15 17:01:06

I am growing herbs in rows (like thyme and sage) and then will cut them hard back in the spring to get lots of new growth I can use.

Runner beans and courgettes are worthwhile, moneywise, and easy to grow.

MollyAir Wed 07-Jan-15 17:08:40

I would say start with really easy crops where you can't go wrong.

I'd suggest courgettes. You get absolutely masses, which is really satisfying, and the flowers are both pretty and edible.

Carrots are difficult, so avoid them unless you're prepared to cope with failure.

If you want to err on the safe side, supermarkets as well as Homebase, B&Q etc now sell young plants for hardly any money. So it's possible to buy half a dozen young courgette plants for �1 each and have more courgettes than you can possibly eat for the summer/autumn.

Ditto tomatoes.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 07-Jan-15 17:18:24

Funky - what would be your year 2 advice then? Please say it is to obsess about seeds, and plan for a gajillion varieties of tomato...

Review year 1 and expand. Hedge your bets and grow smaller numbers of different varieties. If you make it through to year 2 [and many don't] then you are pretty much hooked IMHO.

AWholeLottaNosy Wed 07-Jan-15 17:25:59

Is it best to buy seeds to grow herbs or go to a garden centre and buy herb plants and try to nurture them?

lavendersun Wed 07-Jan-15 17:31:32

I have got four 12 x 4 raised beds, just to cut down the work really. We made them from sleepers, two sleepers high so you can sit on the side with tea and admire your work!

I am not a serious gardener - just do it because I have a bit of land - but we eat from it for a good four months.

Things I have found easy - one bed herbs only - works a treat. One bed strawberries, we usually harvest at least a 1lb a day for weeks in the summer, I have a few alpine strawberry plants which fruit after the normal ones to extend the season.

The other two have lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes (usually 5 or 6 varieties which is great), squash, runner beans and french beans (the purple ones are lovely), mange tout, peas and courgettes - all very easy.

Raspberries look after themselves and provide fruit after the strawberry season.

I always buy my cucumber plants - they can be bitter, something to do with male and female flowers, I can't remember tbh, I gave up growing them from seed a few years ago.

TheSpottedZebra Wed 07-Jan-15 17:59:24

Ooh, ta Funky. I think I am hooked already tbh. I've only got the back garden for now, but one day I'll hopefully have enough time for an allotment. Til then - more trying of varieties and new things.

BoffinMum Sat 10-Jan-15 09:43:38

I've just spotted this thread. I have literally just written a blog post about converting a conventional garden to a fruit and vegetable one, and it might be interesting. It's based on a wartime book that you can buy copies of on Ebay very cheaply.
how to adapt your garden in periods of austerity

BoffinMum Sat 10-Jan-15 09:45:17

BTW my best advice would be to set up an automated Hozelock irrigation system otherwise in a hot summer you'll go nuts trying to keep on top of the watering. And make sure your soil is really well fed before you start.

MollyAir Sat 10-Jan-15 16:30:05

I got that blogpost this morning, Boff, and much admired the book cover.

Partly inspired by this thread, I've decided to do tomatoes and courgettes this year, and herbs. The first two I'll buy as young plants from Mr Tesco. I have a single carrot still in its pot from last year. Too precious to eat.

BoffinMum Sat 10-Jan-15 18:30:15


It's hard getting courgettes wrong, tbh.

funnyperson Sat 10-Jan-15 22:04:48

Thats a nice book cover
Maybe I'll go for
runner beans

What is a hozelock irrigation system?

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