Grow yourself healthy!
As avid gardeners, we know there is no better way to start leading a healthier lifestyle than growing your own produce! It’s packed full of vitamins, encourages us to eat more of the healthy stuff and it tastes delicious. This is our beginners guide to growing your own leaves, fruit and veg, which you can start today…
Rocket, spinach and lettuce are known in the gardening community as ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves because, quite literally, you can use them and they grow again very quickly.
The great thing is you can pick them around 21 days after sowing. If you water the plants regularly and pick leaves from around the outside of the plant, you will achieve a constant source of fresh leaves to devour!
You can start sowing most salad seeds from around March.
If you plan to sow your seeds in pots (20-45cm in diameter), you will need to fill the container with compost and press it down with your fingertips. Try to create a level finish with about a 2cm gap from the top of the pot.
It’s up to you whether you want to scatter the seeds finely on top of the compost or sow them in rows. Regardless, you will need to cover them with compost and water.
When the seedlings are around 2cm in height, thin out the rows to give them space to grow. We recommend checking the individual seed packets to find out how much distance to leave between them, as it will differ for each variety.
TIP: Once your plants begin to flower, it’s time to put them out and throw them in the compost heap, as the leaves will begin to turn bitter.
Fruit & Vegetables
Potatoes are perfect for beginners – they are easy to sow and versatile in the kitchen!
Potatoes are grown from small ‘tubers’ that often resemble a tiny potato and sometimes have ‘eyes’ on them. These ‘eyes’ are where the stems will sprout.
Varieties we recommend:
- Salad potatoes: ‘Charlotte’
- First Early potatoes: ‘Maris Bard’
- Second Early potatoes: ‘Maris Peer’
- Main Crop potatoes: ‘King Edward’, ‘Maris Piper’, ‘Desiree’
- Salad potatoes: March – April
- First Early potatoes: February – April
- Second Early potatoes: March – May
- Main Crop potatoes: March – May
- Salad potatoes: From April to July depending on the type
- First Early potatoes: April and May
- Second Early potatoes: June and July
- Main Crop potatoes: September onwards
Ideally, you should start them off in a bright frost-free greenhouse or shed in February, or you can plant them in a large tub in March. As they grow, bury the stems with fresh compost.
Potatoes need lots of moisture, especially around flowering time, which is when the tubers start to form. We recommend occasional heavy watering, as opposed to little and often. Once in flower, they are ready to tip out and eat.
Onions are most definitely one of the easiest crops to grow & we don’t know about you, but they are one of the most used vegetables in our households!
Small baby onions are sown into ground from late February and they should be ready to harvest from July.
First, make V-shaped trenches in the soil, leaving around 10 inches between each one. Take your ‘sets’ (tiny onions made for planting) and place them upright in the trenches, about 4 inches apart.
Next, fill with soil right up to their necks and give them plenty of water, whilst being careful not to over water them.
Your onions will be ready to harvest and use when the leaves turn brown. Gently lift them out and put them somewhere to dry.
A true staple in many households – great in salads, with roast dinners and dipping in houmous!
Do some research - certain types of carrots can be sown as early as February under clotches or in greenhouse borders. We have a huge range of veggie beds & planters here.
You should sow carrot seeds thinly at a depth of around 1 inch in drills 12 inches apart.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out within each row to around 4 inches apart.
TIP: Where space is limited, try to grow carrots in containers. If successful, they will also produce a decent crop.
The humble English strawberry – is there anything that encapsulates the summer better? Whether they are freshly picked and added to a jug of Pimms or a delicious pavlova, everyone will love your home-grown strawberries!
Strawberry plants are best planted in the spring or autumn, in a sunny and sheltered position with fertile, free-draining soil.
Method (for hanging baskets or containers)
Of course you can plant your strawberry plants directly in the ground, however this method keeps them away from the greedy mouths of slugs and snails! It’s also a better way for those with limited space.
For a 12 inch hanging basket, it’s best to only grow about three strawberry plants at a time. This is prevents them from competing too much for light, nutrients and water.
Ensure you feed them every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertiliser and only water when the top half-inch of compost feels dry.
This gorgeous Hanging Basket would do the trick!
For this time of year you might want to invest in a good quality cold frame – you can check out our range here.
There you have it, Buttercup Farm’s beginners guide to the easiest salads, vegetables and fruit to grow in your garden.
It’ll make healthy eating in your family more tempting, delicious and cost effective, so we suggest you start today!