Fresh fruit and vegetables picked straight from the garden have a flavour second to none. Every small garden or patio can produce some healthy vegetables even if you need to grow them in pots.
If you have children or grandchildren, growing vegetables is a great way to get them to help you sow the seed, identify the plants from the weeds and get to gather, cook and enjoy eating them.
Vegetable plot or allotment
A traditional plot devoted solely to fruit and vegetables is a luxury in most small domestic gardens, but well worth space. If you have enough room such as an allotment you can grow all the fruit and vegetables that appear in the seed catalogues, selecting the tastiest varieties that provide unusual servings.
Unless you have space to spare, avoid growing maincrop potatoes, as a wide variety of them are always on sale in every supermarket at reasonable prices. Instead, grow your favourites such as asparagus (always expensive to buy) peas (picked fresh they taste different to anything you’ve ever bought) and pull carrots early (when they are bursting with flavour). You can also try the exotics that are rarely found in the shops such as globe artichokes, salisfy and scorzonera.
Improve your soil whenever you can, following the directions in the mulching section of this site.
Move your vegetables around your plot so that they are not grown in the same spot year after year. In this way, you can avoid encouraging soil pests and diseases and provide the right nutrients and conditions that keep your soil in general good heart. The same crop on the same spot will lead to unbalancing of nutrient reserves and is best avoided. Follow a crop rotation plan for long term cropping. See crop rotation explained for more details.
Many allotment owners follow the standard 3-year crop rotation system so that the same type of vegetables are not grown on the same spot year after year. Divide your plot into 3 sections and each year grow a different group of vegetables on each.
Growing a few tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and carrots between your flowers will add another dimension to your flower border which can also be backed by raspberry canes, blackberry plants interspersed with gooseberry bush or blackcurrant. Brightest veg in winter will be chard ‘Bright Lights’ with yellow and red stems that deserve front line display space in December.
The keen vegetable grower, however, can usually find some extra space at the back of a flower bed where tucked away he or she can plant less attractive but worthwhile crops such as sprouts, cabbage, leeks and parsnips.
Pots, tubs and gro-bags
You can grow your own fruit and vegetables even if you only have a patio, small garden, yard or just a couple of window boxes!
Nearly all types of fruit and vegetables can be grown in tubs, pots and containers. Just ensure that it is big enough for the crop to grow and expand, has sufficient drainage and a good quality compost is used.
Gro-bags are another great option for growing a wide range of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Just position, cut open and plant your crop and before you know it you will be producing tasty homegrown produce!