Get Growing-your-own for a Happy Healthy New Year!
Above: a new year project, growing your own is SO rewarding.
Whether you plan to start the 2024 with renewed intentions, try new hobbies or commit to eating differently (after the season’s excesses!), we all crave something to look forward to as we start another year. Something that ticks all these boxes, and is rewarding, is ‘growing your own’. You can start simply and easily by growing indoors in January.
Here are some ideas from Squire’s Garden Centres to easily set yourself up for grow-your-own success:
- Grow from Seed – Consider getting going with some easy veg that can be grown from seed – salad leaves, radishes and chillis are just a few easy to grow varieties to start with!
- Chillis are a fun crop to start growing in January-February, needing a warm, bright position, they are great to grow indoors or in a greenhouse. Chillis are a crop better suited to containers and pots, which makes them ideal to nurture indoors. Hot chilli pepper varieties do best under cover, as it helps them develop their intense heat, taste and flavour (and if you want them to be as hot as they can be, allow them to go red!).
Top Tip: A soil-based loam seed compost should be used for germination and best results.
- Grow sweet, flavoursome peppers indoors in January, using containers and pots and is straightforward for experienced and new gardeners alike. A versatile crop, the growing process is simple and, once established, requires little attention.
Top Tip: Peppers like lots of light and constant warmth, so this needs to be reflected in their location and how they are cared for.
- Garlic grown in pots or containers is a good crop to try when space is limited. It will give a great return – flavoursome and suitable for use in many recipes, it’s an excellent kitchen staple to grow yourself. Pot-grown garlic will do well producing a good crop without the need for preparing a site in the ground for planting. It is an easy growing process and therefore great for gardeners of all skill levels to have a go at growing.
How to Grow from Seed
Preparation is key – When it comes to ‘growing your own’, for best success a little bit of preparation will help smooth the way. Gather a few essentials – small clean seed trays or several pots to start the seeds off, (once sprouting they can be transferred to their final pot) seed-sowing compost and plant labels. You might also choose to have a heated seed propagator too.
- Getting started – Fill trays with compost, such as John Innes Seed Sowing Compost – which enhances seed germination. Plant seeds and place the seed trays in a light position such as the windowsill. Lightly water the seeds using a watering can with rose head, then cover seeds with glass to help keep them at a warm temperature. Now the fun starts, with the daily checking for signs of growth emerging from the compost!
- Germination Time – this refers to signs of growth from the seed. Once this has occurred, the lid or clear film covering the seedlings can be removed to increase ventilation to the growing plant. Keep compost moist, but not soaking, to assist steady growth of the seedlings. When they are large enough to handle, they can be transferred to larger individual pots to continue growing indoors.
- ‘Seed Potatoes’ – The start of a new year is the time to try your hand at ‘seed potatoes’ starting these off indoors. ‘Chitted’ before planting – which means to encourage them to sprout – this should lead to a better harvest. Place seed potatoes in trays or egg cartons with the most ‘eyes’ facing upwards then wait until 1-2cm of shoots appear, which may take up to 6 weeks. The seeded potatoes can be planted outside once temperatures improve and there is no nighttime frost.
Top Tip: don’t start the process from old potatoes as they won’t produce a reliable crop.
- Herbs – these will deliver a great win with their growth, with the bonus of something tasty which can be added to winter cooking too! Good ones to nurture are basil, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme. While easy to grow, they will need a sunny window that will deliver about 6 hours of light per day. Keep checking them regularly to ensure that soil doesn’t become overly dry.
Sarah Squire, Chairman, Squire’s Garden Centres, comments: “The new year is an exciting time to start planning ahead for the new season. It’s a great opportunity to have-a-go at nurturing your own crops for the very first time, observing the fascinating growing process and be able to look forward to your crop.”