Sowing the Seed
The popularity of ‘Grow Your Own’ continues to rise, with 38% of British adults saying that they use their garden or outdoor space such as a balcony or window box to grow their own herbs, fruit and vegetables (according to a YouGov survey for the HTA in 2020).
Growing your own fruit and vegetables from seed is sometimes made to sound harder than it is. But all you really need to do is to pop a few seeds into some seed trays or pots filled with compost, place indoors in a propagator, or in a greenhouse if you have one, water well and watch your plants grow! In no time they will be ready to be planted out (usually after the last frost).
There’s no greater reward than growing your own fresh fruit and veg, and now is the time to plan what you are going to grow and choose your seeds. Of course, the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing what to grow but here are a few ideas.
- Chillies and tomatoes – can be started off indoors from March through to mid spring. Plants will be ready to go outside in a sheltered, sunny spot from May or after the last frost.
- Potatoes – are a family favourite and are very easy to grow. Buy seed potatoes, which are small potato tubers that are certified disease free (don’t be tempted to use old potatoes from the vegetable rack) and start chitting them in February or March. Chitting involves letting the potatoes grow shoots by placing them in trays or egg cartons and standing them in a cool, light spot until 1-2cm long shoots have formed. Work organic matter and a general fertiliser into the soil of an open sunny site. Potatoes do not like frost so don’t rush to plant out too soon. Water regularly and you should be able to harvest after 10-12 weeks.
- Broad Beans and Runner Beans – can be sown indoors or straight in the ground outside as the soil warms up. They are easy to grow and you’ll be able to enjoy delicious freshly picked veg this summer.
- Cress – have some fun and create your own crackin’ cress heads with the children! Carefully remove the top of your eggs, wash the shells and dab them dry. Draw faces on your shells with felt tip pens. Dip some cotton wool in water, squeeze out the excess, then place one cotton wool ball inside each shell. Sprinkle a few cress seeds on top. Sit your cress-filled shells in egg cups or an egg box on a sunny windowsill and watch them grow!
If you are new to growing your own then Squire’s Garden Centres has a ‘Grow Your Own Selection’ pack (£45) that contains everything you need to get you gardening. It includes an electric propagator to keep your seeds warm as they get going, seed trays, seed sowing compost, plant labels, a transplanting trowel, and packs of runner bean, tomato and carrot seeds. The pack is available online here, for local delivery and instore.