'Grow Your Own' Week

by Adam Pasco

There's nothing complicated about growing your own. Just decide what crops you'd like to grow, and get started...

Adam Pasco tending lettuce crops growing in a raised bedGrowing fruit and vegetables seems to have really caught the public imagination. I do hope this isn't just a fad and really becomes a practical, viable and rewarding way of life for millions of new gardeners.

That's one reason why we have launched the Gardeners' World 'Grow Your Own' Week - to give help and advise all those inspired to have a go at growing their own this year, but who lack knowledge and confidence.

There's nothing complicated about growing your own. Just decide what crops you'd like to grow, and get started. A greater range of young plants and seedlings are now available than ever before, providing a good alternative to anyone who thinks sowing seed is tricky. However, you certainly pay for the privilege of buying plants compared to the great value seeds offer.

Your creativity needn't be constrained by limited space. Crops can be grown in the tiniest area: in patio pots, baskets, window boxes, or even on a windowsill. The more space you have the more you can grow, and while few of us can be self-sufficient in the average garden, thousands of people have signed up for their own allotment that will allow them to grow far more.

So, what are the Golden Rules of growing your own? Of course you should only grow what you and your family want to eat, and do your research to choose the best fruit and vegetable varieties. Don't just buy the first packet of a veg seed that comes to hand as others may be available that produce bigger yields, have better flavour, or offer other benefits, such as natural pest or disease resistance.

The one rule that would be close to the top of my list is to make every effort to sow seeds at the right time. Often that means making time in your busy diary to prepare pots or soil so that you can actually sow the seeds (which only takes minutes). Delay sowing and you'll often either sow too late in the season to get a decent crop, or worse still, forget to sow altogether!

Keep a weekly diary of what needs to be done, tick off the jobs, and you'll be on the road to a productive year ahead.

Topical advice on just what crops to sow when, and how to care for them, can be found on this website and each month in Gardeners' World magazine.

'Grow Your Own' Week is just the start. We're here all year round to help you. You won't regret your decision to grow your own fruit, veg and herbs.

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Talkback: 'Grow Your Own' Week
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Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2010 at 09:59

Adam, this is good practical advice and I enjoy your tips in the magazine. But am I the only one who struggles with wanting to grow vegetables? I'm doing it because I feel that I should -- I want to teach our children how, and I've been persuaded by Alys's argument that it's "a slightly immoral" not to minimize your carbon footprint by growing some of your own. But as I was saying in this piece (http://www.stopwatchgardener.com/veg-gardening/), I'm enchanted by the beauty of the flowers that will come from the ornamental seeds I'm growing, and I find nothing enchanting about the vegetables. Not least because they need so much ugly protection (knitting, fleece, plastic) in the garden. I'm pushing through, but I'm finding little beauty in the experience. Sheila Averbuch -- Stopwatch Gardener

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2010 at 10:01

Gosh, I meant netting, not knitting! Maybe knitted protection would look nicer, come to think of it...

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2010 at 10:13

I understand what you mean about appearance. Why not try mixing some veg in with the flower? All the bean family have lovely flowers, make great annual climbers and don't need protection. I inter-plant peas and sweetpeas together and a lot of the lettuces are ornamental (if you can keep the slugs off!)I have put spring bulbs in round the fruit area and carrot and nigella foliage go well together. This year I am going to put annual flowers like Marigolds in amongst the veg and I am working out a plan for "drift" planting veg next year when I get brave enough to ditch the straight rows - after all they are only there to max produce and my space isnt big enough to give me large crops anyway.

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2010 at 10:40

Thanks Pixley! I've ordered some dwarf French beans and I'm looking forward to planting them. I was half thinking of putting them in the border instead of in my raised vegetable beds -- I think I will! And carrot and nigella (which I already grow) together is a great idea. You're a smart cookie. Sheila Averbuch -- Stopwatch Gardener

Gardeners' World Web User 30/03/2010 at 11:11

I gave up my front lawn 3 years ago, i now have four large raised beds, in which i grow fruit and veg, we still have the back garden to enjoy, but in my opinion, it's the best thing i ever did! In the summer i had lots of positive remarks from friends neighbours and passers by, on the veg garden, and thanks to some of the above posts will now consider adding a few flowers too. :-)

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