For all you aspiring green fingers out there this is for you. Ever wanted to grow your own fruits and veggies but not sure how or where to start? Then check out our Veggie Vagabonds guide to gardening for beginners. Don’t worry if you’ve never gardened in your life, this guide will take you through the process step by step give you all the knowledge and know how on to grow your own. Starting off with the basics join me on my foliage based adventure and together we can grow some delicious foods in our gardens. Plus I’ll be basing the upcoming ethical eating recipes on the stuff grown in my garden so you too can make the most of what you grow as the harvest process commences. Also let me know if there’s anything particular you want to see featured in my garden and any questions or advice give me a shout!
My grandad has been gardening nearly all his life and when it comes to plants and vegetables he knows his stuff alright. When he was only 8 years old, after showing such a keen interest and hanging around the allotments all the time, he was gifted his own plot to grow on. Since then it’s been like second nature to him and at 80 years old, although his plot has decreased in size compared to his younger years he can still be found bumbling about in his veggie patch, or pottering around with seedlings in his greenhouse. So I guess gardening and growing is in my blood right? Well as much as I love plants, I’ve never really grown anything. Ever the optimist I decided that whilst back in England this summer I’m going to unleash my inner green fingers!
So I’ve never gardened before. I’ve owned indoor plants and have managed to keep them alive so I’m hoping that luck continues. Growing my own fruits and veggies has long been something I’ve wanted to do so I’ve decided to go for it! I’ve always admired by grandad’s ability to grow what he eats and he would always by gifting weird and wonderful things to me. By growing your own produce you cut out all the pesticides and preservatives that supermarkets use on their products. Plus it’s a lot more sustainable as by growing your own you cut out all the production and transporting associated with supermarket products.
If you too wan to grow your own but don’t have a clue where to start well you’ve come to the right place. I’m a complete newbie and although I have the wise words of wisdom from my grandad this is all untrodden ground to me. I hope that using the few nuggets of advice from my grandad and my sheer determination to be a gardening god we can go on this journey together growing our own fruits and veggies to feast on! I am by no means an expert but I am going to start with the basics giving you all the low-down and keeping you updated on the goings on in my garden and hopefully getting updates from yours also.
As this is all about reaping what you sow I will be basing a loft more of the recipes on the blog around what I grow so if you too want to impress with your home grown, home cooked delights then stayed tuned for the upcoming weeks for the veggie vagabond green fingers gardening extravaganza a.k.a gardening for beginners.
Starting with an easy one, courgettes are pretty easy to grow. You can grow them from a seedling indoors or you can plant them straight in to the soil and go from there. I grew them from a seedling indoors then in May planted them in the garden. Courgettes need a lot of room and once they start growing you’re going to find that you’ve got more courgettes than you know what to do with. To coincide with the harvesting period I will be including recipes for what to do with all these courgettes to make the most of eating them at their best.
In pots: Sow in pots from March to May by filling a 7.5cm (3 inch) pot with compost. Sow the seeds vertically about 2.5cm (1 inch) deep and cover packing the compost tightly. When the roots start to show out of the bottom of the pot, transport it in to a bigger pot roughly 12.5cm (5 inches) deep.
In soil: Sow directly in to soil late May to early summer. Make sure the spot gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day and sow the seeds on their side about 2.5cm (1 inch) deep.
Spacing and planting:
Courgette plants need a LOT of space. You wouldn’t believe it looking at them when their young but boy do they grow so you need to plant them about 1 meter apart.
Courgette plants can be hungry so be sure to keep the soil well fed with plant food to make the most of your plants. This isn’t essential but will mean you get the most from them. Also keep the soil around the plants moist, try to avoid watering the leaves themselves. They will also benefit from some mulch around the plants to keep the soil moist. Mulch is material such as decaying leaves, straw or compost that can be based around the plants to keep the soil moist and gives the fruits something to rest on. Courgette plants aren’t that strong so will benefit from a bit of shelter from the wind.
Once courgettes get going, they don’t stop and you will need to be harvesting 2 to 3 times a week when the fruits are about 10cm (4 inches) big to enjoy them at their best. Depending on when you planted your plants will depend on when you can harvest them. Some that are planted earlier may be ready in June but July and August provide the best picking opportunities. To harvest cut the fruit at the base being sure not to damage the plant as this will affect new fruits growing. It’s important to harvest regularly to keep the plant productive. The flowers are edible also and can be used for salads or as a garnish.
Tomatoes are a good choice to go for if you’re a beginner. You can get many different types of tomatoes and some of the plants grow differently. I’m not an expert in tomatoes, far from it in fact. But I know that some plants grow up, reaching up to 1.8m (6ft) in height requiring a stake to support them, whereas some grow in a bushy manner and don’t require staking.
In pot: You can grow tomatoes indoors, in a greenhouse between February and March. Sow the seeds about 2mm deep and keep them at about 18 degrees Celcius. Once two little leaves start to appear you can transfer the plants in to pots about 9cm (3 ½ inches).
In soil: If you’re growing the plants straight in to the soil you will need to do so in about late March to early April. You need to be sure of frost-free conditions when planting tomato plants.
Spacing and planting:
When the first flowers begin to open transfer the plants to 25cm (10 inch) pots, growing bags or plant 45 – 60cm (18 – 24 inches) apart in soil. Tie the main stem to a vertical pole such bamboo, this keeps the plant upright and ensures it doesn’t droop. Remove the side shoots regularly when they reach about 2.5cm (1 inch) long.
Tomatoes need plenty of sunlight, roughly 6 to 8 hours daily so make sure you consider this when planting them. They also need to be watered regularly, roughly every 7 days or 5 days when it’s hot, when doing so water the base of the plants and not the leaves. Be sure to keep your plants well fed with some tomato food every 14 days roughly.
The best time to harvest your tomato plants are when they’re ready and this will depend on each individual fruit. When they are deep in colour and feel firm when squeezed lightly they are at their best to be picked.
I hope this introduction of a gardening for beginners help all you aspiring green fingers out there. Stay tuned in upcoming weeks for updates, plus more vegetables coming soon! Also let me know what you would like to know more of and if there’s anything you want me to plant. Peace & love, V V.