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29th March "Grow your own" newcomers welcome here

(774 Posts)
TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 17:13:55

In light of lots of posts on lots of other threads I thought I'd start one for those who are looking at their gardens in a whole new light this spring.

Rule One of starting to grow your own
do not be over ambitious
A couple of growbags and pots at the start will give better results than trying to dig up the whole garden

Rule Two of starting to grow your own
grow stuff that will actually cope with your conditions
Look at where the sun shines on your garden at different times of day and what access to water you have

Rule three of starting to grow your own
grow what you will enjoy eating fresh from the garden
as the crops will be smaller but tastier

Rule Four of starting to grow your own
prepare to develop an obsession with the weather forecast

Tomatoes against a wall of the house are easy in most of the UK
Herbs in small pots on windowsills are easy in most places
Lettuce / salad greens can work in pots, tubs or even hanging baskets
Spinach can be seeded soon and every few weeks from then on to keep you in greens for months
Baby carrots are quick fun and easy to grow in a tub
Beetroot ditto
Dwarf french beans later in the year are well worth growing even in a tiny garden

If we assume that the biggest newcomer plot is 2m by 1m (or 8 feet by 4 feet in old money)

How much yummy veg can Mumsnetters produce?

bellinisurge Sun 10-Feb-19 17:17:45

Nice one. Thank you.

OhHolyJesus Sun 10-Feb-19 17:18:33

Thanks for this - really needed a push to get started!

sackrifice Sun 10-Feb-19 17:19:10

Don't sow too early if you can't protect your crops.

Grow what you like to eat, even if it is a small amount, and learn to grow them properly before moving on to the next thing.

Incidentally...Why the 29th of March?

PostNotInHaste Sun 10-Feb-19 17:26:31

Good idea TIP. Outdoor cucumbers are easy (get Marketmore). I grew 2 plants up an obelisk and had loads, they so,times need peeling and seeds scooping out if bigger, Some bamboo sticks made into a wigwam (Wilko) with twine and then twine twisted round from top down would do job and if you have flower beds could go in there. Alternatively buy a grow bag, cut in half and use as two pots,

Keep fruit and veg containers, yoghurt pots etc to start seeds.

Speak to anyone you know who already grows their own as they may have bits they can give you eg strawberry runners and herbs. Plant fares at Schools, Churches etc in Spring good place to get cheap plants.

Definitely take notice of rule number 1.

TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 17:26:42

I bought mine from this company this year ....
based on the amazing results I saw a friend get last season

But any of the big seed companies should be OK
"Heritage varieties" will crop lower yields but over longer periods

A deeply cool trick for lettuce is to buy one of those silly trays of live lettuce from the supermarket, soak it in water and divide it into about 20 pots .... you'll have all the lettuce you can eat for about three months
Lettuce is not Frost Hardy so either do that under cover or wait till mid March

bellinisurge Sun 10-Feb-19 17:28:48

Currently got garlic and perennial spinach on the go outside. I've been rubbish at garlic - this is about my third attempt and finally looking good.
Planning to start some pea shoots indoors. I know from bitter experience that starting anything until late March is pointless up here in the frozen north.

bellinisurge Sun 10-Feb-19 17:29:26

Real Seeds are fab!

PostNotInHaste Sun 10-Feb-19 17:30:34

Realseeds are great and I believe owner was a MNetter in the past (may well still be). are good as are Lidl will have some soon an Wilkos good for basics too.

SisterOfDonFrancisco Sun 10-Feb-19 17:35:05

Is there anything you can grow indoors in a shady flat?

sackrifice Sun 10-Feb-19 17:36:18

Lettuce is not Frost Hardy

Depends on the variety. I've been harvesting lettuce from my outside beds, all winter. It was all sown in September.

Knowing your varieties and growing at the right time is half the battle.

morejumpingfrogs Sun 10-Feb-19 17:37:05

Watching with interest - growing some of my own veg has been a new year's resolution of mine for, um, at least the last 3 years!

bellinisurge Sun 10-Feb-19 17:39:40

Does your shady flat have window sills?

PostNotInHaste Sun 10-Feb-19 17:40:05 I haven’t done it myself but think you this all year round and would be good for shady kitchen SisterofDonFrancisco

TheMammothHunters Sun 10-Feb-19 17:49:28

Any tips- hoping to grow
Strawberries, tomatoes or cucumbers, courgettes. Maybe put a rhubarb plant in and possibly perpetual spinach
Where to buy- would rather get plants than seeds. Containers/ pots/ grobags?
What feed?
Thank you

bellinisurge Sun 10-Feb-19 17:54:15

Most garden centres will have starter plants nearer growing time. Some supermarkets actually will - Aldi surprisingly good in normal times.

TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 17:59:58

Forget Rhubarb. Its huge, slow and grown in the UK. Support the Yorkshire growers.

Strawberries : the new varieties are amazing but the are VERY thirsty

Courgettes : I always grow yellow ones as I'm less likely to miss them at the pre marrow stage

Cucumbers : DH hates them so others will need to help out there grin

TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 18:13:55

I am old so I love books
and most of the websites are actually a rehash of the old books.

These are the ones I would suggest that every food gardener has on their shelf

(1) Geoff Hamilton's Ornamental Kitchen Garden
He was the best ever presenter of Gardeners World and encouraged environmentally sound practices when they were deeply uncool

available in charity shops and online or through any allotment / gardening club

(2) The Growers Guide
From the Percy Thrower era of gardening so very out of date on varieties, but unbeatable for explaining aspect and planting
again, Charity shops are your best bet

(3) The Vegetable Expert by D G Hessayon
A criminally underrated series of books, often in Charity shops
but really, really clear and simple
again, varieties are out of date but principles are sound

And if you are lucky enough to have garden with trees and shrubs that you have only regarded as a backdrop for parties before, this book is a MUST

(4) The RHS Pruning book
It is the absolute best book ever. My copy is knackered but my plants fruit and flower well
again, charity shops

Grinchly Sun 10-Feb-19 18:45:01

Thank you so much for this!

Last spring I decided to have a go after some off putting failures years ago. I planted stuff I like - so kale and purple sprouting from plug plants I bought online from Thompson and Morgan. Also some Tom plants round the front - very sunny very small place - those were a sensational success, and the kale is going strong.

Re Purple sprouting- will it keep producing if I keep harvesting? Do I cut the main floret thing or the side shoots?

Those are in one 2 m square raised bed. I have room for one more, same size.

What to plant in that? I could do a double depth one if that gives more options. No room for greenhouse or space for germinating really.

I love broad beans and spinach ( tho I tried growing salad from seed - didn't work)

Strawberries in a pot? Raspberries?

I am lazy and the main plot not immediate accessible from back door so nothing requiring too much nurturing or attention.

Thank you!

QueenOfThorns Sun 10-Feb-19 18:52:49

Thanks for this thread! I put up a little greenhouse last year and it went amazingly well! We had more cucumbers than we could ever eat, cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers.

This year I’m putting even more growbags in it, and trying two different types of tomatoes (we have some seeds left from last year, but the fruit came very late, so I thought I’d get some early ones as well).

We’re also starting a vegetable patch (not huge) and will cram in as much as we can. I’ve seen fantastic growing bags that include supports for runner bean canes, so anyone with a small amount of outside space and a bit of sun could grow oodles of beans!

I start my seeds off indoors in the spare room - does anyone know roughly when to expect propagators etc in the Aldi special buys? Wilko is also brilliant, I got loads from there last year.

TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 19:00:08

Broccoli is the unopened flower buds of the plant
so the more you cut from the top the longer it will keep sprouting from the sides
personally I prefer Kale as I harvest it from July to March grin

strawberries : yup, worth doing a pot
raspberries take three years till a good crop so only for the bigger garden

bellinisurge Sun 10-Feb-19 19:02:42

Dare I make a gentle suggestion of a dehydrator for any produce you grow that you can't store.
Most of my kale and spinach from last year that I didn't eat fresh is stored dehydrated in glass jars. I added to the jar bit by bit.

TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 19:03:40

Here is an old book that is CHOCK FULL of great ideas for small spaces

Its very similar in approach to the utterly wonderful Geoff Hamilton book.

boldlygoingsomewhere Sun 10-Feb-19 19:07:10

Thanks for this thread. I’d really like to have a go at growing a bit more although my garden is small. Last year, I did well with mint, thyme and some dwarf beans - all grown in containers.

I’d like to try more ‘proper’ food this year like spinach.

TalkinPeece Sun 10-Feb-19 19:10:16

Leftover kale ? does not compute

the coolest food storage idea I had - and have used incredibly successfully with gluts of basil and coriander is this

Put the leaves into a freezer bag. Zip it almost shut. With a straw suck ALL the air out. Freeze flat.
Later in the year just crumble bits into whatever you are cooking and it smells like summer

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