Veg Patch Advice: Getting Started

With lockdown, quite a lot of people will be growing their own veggies for the first time this season. Here are some of Sam's ideas for those who are keen to get started but unsure where to start.

Start with plug plants

It's really easy to get going using plug plants rather than trying to grow your own from seed. Hopefully garden centres will be allowed to open again soon, and usually they are well stocked with veg plug plants. If not, a google search should reveal a few online veg plant suppliers!

When to plant out

You can plant most of your veg plants anytime in spring after the last frosts have been, so usually mid May to late June. Planting out earlier than that is risky business as frost and strong winds can really harm baby veg plants!

What to grow

I'd advise not trying to grow too many different things if you are new to growing your own. Start with 4 or 5 things, and make sure they are vegetables that you really enjoy eating.

For me, I find salads and leafy greens (like spinach or chard) really easy and useful in the veg patch. Leeks and onions are easy and relatively pest-free, and beetroot is very easy too. Courgettes are incredibly good croppers and very easy to grow, and I don't think any veg plot is complete without some climbing beans - runner or French - and some tomatoes. Potatoes are great fun to grow, but be quick as they should really be  in the ground by now. 

I'd avoid brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) as they suffer quite a few pests and diseases and can be a faff until you've got slightly more experience under your belt.

Growing Space

You can get started with very little space - a few pots/planters of compost or some grow bags will be enough to grow several things. If you want to build a raised bed quickly, I'd really recommend searching Charles Dowding's website as his method of 'no-dig' makes it much less work.

Essential Tools

This is my list of bare essentials:

  • Trowel and/or hand fork
  • Full size garden fork & rake
  • Hoe for weeding
  • Garden Twine & Bamboo Canes
  • A bucket or plastic trug for weeding/clearing
  • Watering can or hose
  • Tough gloves for weeding nettles and brambles

Slugs

I have 2 tactics for keeping slugs off my veg - one is to keep the plot quite tidy and free from hiding places that slugs use, like big stones etc. The other is to put down beer traps - an old ramekin or yoghurt pots filled with cheap lager is very attractive to slugs!