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    Grow your own vegetable garden

    How to grow fresh vegetables and herbs in your own backyard

    Alex | Oneflare

    More and more people are growing their own vegetables at home as an alternative to buying from the supermarket. There are many reasons for this, not least the fact that it can be quite a considerable saving from your weekly grocery bill. In addition to this, if you grow your own, you’ll know for sure that they haven’t been chemically treated and can harvest them at the peak of their freshness for that extra special taste. You don’t even need a large garden or plots of soil, as there is a large number of vegetables which can be grown in pots.

    Choosing which vegetables to grow

    Of course, the first consideration when growing your own vegetables is your personal taste, so you’ll want to pick some of your favourite greens. Another thing to consider is the requirements of each plant; most need different amounts of sunlight and water, plus their own pot, but some veg can be grown together, like tomatoes and cucumber.

    Potting your vegetables

    Any type of pot is usually adequate for growing vegetables, even old buckets or cans, but you’ll generally want to use a clay pot with holes in the bottom so surplus water can drain out. These pots can be sealed to prevent too much water escaping. The colour of the pot is important too; for vegetables that need a lot of heat, you should use a dark pot and for those that need less heat, a lighter coloured pot is preferable. The size of the pot you use will obviously depend on the size of the veg you are growing, with larger greens such as tomatoes and squash needing large pots. The final thing to consider before planting your seeds is the type of soil that the plant will need in order to grow. Usually, this will be indicated on the seed packet, but most pots should be filled with a sterile, pH adjusted soil with fertiliser and water retention granules.

    Pots with vegetables and herbs on a balcony
    Vegetables and herbs growing in pots / Source: Shutterstock

    Growing your vegetables

    Once you’ve selected and planted your vegetables, it’s time to let them grow. They obviously need sunlight and water, but care and attention are the most vital ingredients. Regularly watering your plants will keep them from becoming dehydrated and give them the best chance to flourish. 

    How to grow cucumbers

    Cucumbers are classified as fruits as they take well to warm weather and come in a wide variety of types. Nonetheless, cucumbers can be a staple food item and are a great plant to grow in your first vegetable garden with numerous health benefits: 

    Plant in early spring

    Plant cucumbers early in September as a seedling or newly planted seeds.

    Pick a spot with lots of nutrients and organic matter

    Cucumbers need lots of water while growing so plant seeds in moist, loose soil that’s well-drained.

    Give them space

    Distance your cucumbers half – a metre apart to give them space to grow.

    How to grow potatoes

    Potatoes are a versatile vegetable with a wide range of uses. While potatoes can grow from an existing potato, planting seeds from a local garden centre will give you a better yield of crops.

    Timing is key

    Plant potatoes between late Feb- September and you should see growth within a week to ten days. Potatoes will mature in four to five months. Potatoes should be planted at least 10cm deep and at least 50cm apart from each other.

    Additions will help

    Loosen up your garden’s soil with additives like manure that provides the needed phosphorus for potatoes.

    Keep your crops covered

    During the early growth phase, keep potatoes covered with soil and mulch because sunlight can render potatoes inedible. Keep potatoes moderately watered but overwatering can cause rotting.

    Harvest when vines die

    The ideal time to harvest your plants should be when the lower half of the plan begins wilting, approximately a month after the flowering has begun. Store your harvested potatoes away from the full sun and ensure they’re completely dried before storing them away.

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    How to grow garlic

    Garlic is easy to grow all year round and while it’s a tiny addition to your recipes, a small clove makes a big difference in flavour and seasoning.

    Plant in full sun

    Choose an area of your garden that receives full sun all day. Garlic doesn’t use seeds and a clove can be planted in a pot or a patch as it won’t harm plants nearby.

    Garlic blooms in March

    The middle of March when the days are shorter and nights are cooler, make it an ideal time to plant garlic. Plant a garlic clove two to three centimetres under the soil with the narrow end upward facing. Separate your cloves about a fist distance apart in rows that are about 35cms wide. Water garlic generously about twice a week.

    Harvest garlic cloves when the leaves die

    Simply grab the stalk of the plant and pull the bulb from the soil. Simply brush the dirt off rather than washing a garlic clove.

    A person pruning seedlings with scissors
    Pruning herbs and vegetables can encourage their growth / Source: Shutterstock

    Growing herbs

    Many herbs are seasonal and will only survive until the growing season is over. Basil is a fast-growing herb, and its growth is encouraged by pruning. Try putting this in a window during the summer months. Remove flowers from cooler-climate herbs like coriander and dill, and they’ll last much, much longer. The pruning helps to keep them compact and will help keep the herb yields higher. 

    A more inexperienced gardener might want to go for herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme. The less attention paid to them, the stronger they’ll be. One thing to watch out for when you start to plant – lookout for pests. They can quickly become a problem. In order to combat insects, be sure to use natural products or solutions to get rid of them once and for all.

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