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Updated: Jan 14, 2021

“If you would like to eat more fresh veg then why not have a go at growing your own?”. George Havers, sports coach and amateur gardening enthusiast, shares her tips for getting started with growing your own.

When is a good time to start?

NOW is a great time, with the additional time at home and the warmer weather on its way it is a perfect time to plant all sorts of veg from salad crops, some ready to start picking your first leaves in just a few weeks through to others such as Kale that will crop later in the year but give you greens until next Spring...

How to get started?The basics that you need are seeds or young plants, pots and compost. With the lockdown closing garden centres to the public many have switched to a home delivery service check out the local companies first as they need the business to survive (and many larger companies have sold out or got long waiting lists per their websites).Alternatively you can ask around (our neighbours what’s app group has been agreat source as many gardeners have surplus pots and seeds and are happy to share) or you can improvise with toilet rolls and plastic food containers or re-use takeaway coffee cups (make a hole in the bottom for drainage).

Step-by-step planting seeds:

  1. Assemble pots or tray; compost (ideally moist); seeds; label (or wooden lollypop stick)

  2. Read all instructions on the packet!

  3. Sow seeds (approx.. double the number of plants you want but thinly don’t go mad you can save the rest of the packet for later sowings) and cover with compost

  4. Press down to firm the seeds into the compost

  5. Place the pots on a tray somewhere light (but not in direct sun) and warm e.g. windowsill or conservatory but where you will remember to water it.

  6. Water (tap water not water butt) either with a spray or sit in tray with water in the tray

  7. If it’s cold cover with clingfilm (or see through shower cap) or glass but remove cover once seedlings emerge

Is it a weed? If you are not sure if you have plants or weeds growing, check the seed packet there is often a picture of the seedling and what shape the leaves are. If you have not used compost or have sown directly onto the soil it is likely you will have a lot more weeds than plants to start with. Wait until the seedlings have grown at least 4 or 6 true leaves before weeding otherwise you will be damaging their roots as you pull out the weeds.

When can I pick my salad? Some salad veg will be ready 2 to 3 weeks after planting, use scissors to snip off a few of the leaves at a time, a good rule of thumb is to pick 1/3 of the plant and every day / 2 days. It is best to cut leaves in the morning and then keep fresh in the fridge like you would shop-bought veg.

What next? Set yourself a calendar reminder every 6 weeks to sow a new batch of salad seeds. Try planting some of the following: radish (ready in 4 weeks); chives; dwarf French Beans; Kale and if you have more room or Gro Bags a couple of courgette plants and 3 tomato plants will give you lots of produce later in the summer (but also needs a lot of water!). As a longer-term project you might want to think about constructing a raised bed or greenhouse if you have space! Good luck!

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