Posted: 27/09/2013 at 11:03
I started this year and tried to plant stuff I like and always buy from the supermarket without any real consideration of how hard they are to grow, but then added a couple of others that I like but never think to buy.
I used raised beds - I only have a spade of topsoil over what looks like industrial slag! Being all compost the soil has held moisture well - I check it before watering and have never found it dry, on days when it rains I haven't needed any extra watering and if it has been cool and the soil still feels damp I have sometimes skipped watering if I have been short on time. I have never watered more than once a day. Mind you, I am in Scotland....
I started late in the season and not everything is ready yet!
My main crops of frequent buy stuff are peas and carrots, apart from outgrowing the supports the peas have been easy to grow and nearly twice the height on the packet. I have loads of flowers turning to pods now so as long as the frost stays away I should get a good crop.
Carrots are a bit trickier, I didn't spread them very well and have had to thin a couple of times, I was aiming to use my dads trick of waiting until they are baby sized and then pulling alternate ones for the pot leaving others to mature but I was finding 2 or 3 basically growing together so had to thin them out. Also best to water often to prevent roots cracking. Mine are just getting to baby size, some haven't filled out at all so I may not do very well this year.
Spinach is something I like but never buy, I eat it cooked or instead of lettuce. Seedlings come up quick and then grow very slowly for a while before suddenly bulking out. Had several pickings of the larger leaves leaving the small ones so the plants continue to grow, more than packet suggests! Very easy crop if you like it!
Radishes take about 4 weeks from sowing to picking so can grow between rows and have them eaten before main crop needs the space/light - I think they are a bit marmite, love them or hate them, but if you like them they are another very easy crop. I think some varieties of radish and spinach can still be sown for another week or so if you have a bare patch amongst your flowers.
I also like strawberries, and knew they send out runners after cropping so bought a discounted plant that had cropped, put it in a pot (half whiskey barrel) and have potted up 7 or 8 runners already (there are more nearly ready to pot) - so next year I will have 10-12 strawberry plants. Definitelty easy to grow, the trick is keeping the fruit off the ground so it doesn't rot, traditionally straw was put under them hence the name but it looks like fleece from a garden centre is an easier modern alternative. I will have to build another raised bed and it will be filled with just strawberries looking at the spacing they need.
My final buy was a raspberry which I also like but tend to find they are often ruined from the supermarket. I knew least about these so bought it at completely the wrong time! It has however survived (planting depth is critical) in the same half barrel as the strawberry (it will get it to itself next year), there are only 2 canes but they have grown tall and finally started to flower last weekend (it is an autumn variety) - since the brambles around here are still going I have renewed hope of a few raspberries off it yet. It seems that once established strawberries and raspberries will spread easily and need little maintenance, but for raspberries the planting out is critical (I must have been lucky, although I did read up first so was aware of the depth issue).
Since I started my own growing patch I have paid more attention to the brambles that grow over the top of the wall all down one side of my garden - I have had a couple of kilos off them already and it looks like there is another kilo or 2 ready to