It is far more satisfying to grow veg than to buy them in the supermarket. The pleasure of using your home-growns in the kitchen will add so much to the experience of preparing and cooking your meals. And, here is the real secret, it is easy. Whether you have a small indoor garden or an acre to till, growing your own vegetables is hugely pleasurable, yielding fast rewards. And the quality is undoubtedly better than what you will find in the supermarkets.
Growing your own vegetables removes worry about chemicals and pesticides. There is a lot of preoccupation these days about the integrity of fruit and vegetables sold in the supermarkets. They are sprayed with pesticides and waxes which help protect and beautify the produce, but which are inevitably harmful for human consumption.
Planning your garden
Preparation is key and planning your garden will make things much easier further down the line. Picking a sunny spot is vital. For guaranteed success dig your garden in a place that will get six hours or more of full sunlight. It should preferably be close to the house and a water supply, so it is easy to monitor. Finally, your garden should be sheltered enough, getting good air movement, but certainly not windy.
Preparing the soil is also important. Dig and rake the soil so that it is well aerated and free of rocks and debris. The soil should drain well, never leaving puddles after heavy rainfall. You will probably also need to add compost for nourishment. Your end result should be a nice crumbly texture.
Sowing seeds is really easy. Usually it is just a case of following instructions on the packet. Some seeds can just be sprinkled on to the soil, whereas others need to be covered up. As a general rule, the bigger the seed, the deeper it must be planted. Be sure to keep the soil moist by watering regularly and gently. When the seedlings are growing make sure that they all have enough space, this may mean pulling some out and replanting.
Courgettes grow in startling abundance. If you dont know your neighbours already this will be your opportunity. You will be desperate to give away these little (and large) green veggies to whoever crosses your path. Sow them from seed directly into the soil in late-May until early summer. You should water these little plants well to boost production. The courgette flowers can also be eaten, they are delicious either battered or fried.
Onions are the staple ingredient to any good meal, adding substance and flavour to sauces and stews. They are, therefore, a welcome addition to your garden. Onions can be grown from sets or seeds, but planting sets is infinitely more fun and relatively risk-free. Sets are immature onion bulbs that are planted in the soil. Dig a small hole in the soil, enough to fit your bulb twice, and cover it. Space your sets around 15 centimetres apart for the best result. Plant in early spring.
Carrots are another staple to the kitchen. Dice them to add substance to a stew or soup, grate them into a salad or just chop them up and eat as cruditees. Plant your carrot seeds as soon as the soil can be worked after winter. Carrots are ready for harvest when you see their tops peeking over the line of the soil.
Peas in a pod are the perfect plants for kids. They will love popping them Sugarsnaps are perfect for this. Sow three rows of pea seeds at the very beginning of spring and harvest them when the pods are fat. These little plants are fairly low-maintanance and can survive on the moisture from rainfall.
There is nothing better than a fresh garden salad from your own garden. The quality is better. The leaves are crunchier. And there are so many varieties of lettuce the only difficulty will be in deciding what you want. Try buying salad bowl, spinach and rocket seeds. These are easy to plant and maintain. You will, however, need to keep an eye open for garden pests, especially slugs, who love these tasty greens. Sow every two weeks in order to space out growth and to ensure that you always have fresh leaves on your kitchen table.
Radishes are great for the novice gardener. They are easy to grow and are often ready in only three weeks. Plant in early spring, sowing the seeds around six inches deep. They will be a spicy, crunchy addition to your gourmet salads.
Whatever your level of expertise, gardening should be a fun, pleasurable experience. There is nothing like the feeling of eating a meal you planted and prepared yourself. And once you start, you will be guaranteed your thirst for learning will increase.