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Vegetable plants for beginners

Alys Fowler's top 10 veg plants

With increased awareness of organic farming, food miles and healthy eating, many more people are trying their hand at growing vegetables. We caught up with Alys Fowler at the Chelsea Flower Show for some tips on the best vegetables to grow for beginners.

How to... grow fruit and vegetables

Alys Fowler has picked out her top ten vegetables for beginners to grow. These plants require minimum maintenance, suffer from few pests and diseasesand will produce a decent yield with little skill or effort required.


Top ten vegetables for beginners

Beetroot 'Boltardy'

'Boltardy' is a popular and reliable globe-shaped beetroot. It has good resistance to bolting, making it a perfect choice for beginner growers. It produces medium-sized roots, with smooth skin and deep red flesh.

Cut-and-come-again salad leaves

For an easy-to-grow, fresh salad, try growing cut-and-come-again salad leaves. Leafy greens and lettuces can be harvested for their young leaves instead of mature hearts. Because they are harvested when young, they don't need much space to grow, so you won't need to thin them out. They also grow over a long period, so you can harvest the leaves in winter and early spring.

Bush tomato 'Gartenperle'

Bush tomatoes are easier to grow than cordon varieties, as they don't need supporting and their side shoots do not require pricking out. Bush tomatoes grow well in a hanging basket or pot, both in a greenhouse and outdoors.

Early potatoes 'Anya' or 'Red Duke of York'

Potatoes may be grown in a container or in the ground. Early potatoes can be harvested in July, before the hot, humid weather increases the threat of potato blight. Wait for the flowers to die down and poke around the base of the haulms, then dig out the golf-ball-sized tubers with a blunt-ended fork.

Peas 'Half Pint'

'Half Pint' peas are smaller than regular pea plants, so don't require staking. They can even be grown in a container. The young tips can be trimmed and added to salads for a delicious spring treat, and are followed by flowers and pods.

Radish 'Scarlet Globe' or 'French Breakfast'

Radish seeds are fairly large, so they can be sown at the correct spacing, without the need to thin them out. They are ready to harvest within a few weeks, and just require a little hand-weeding and watering in dry weather.

Miners' lettuce/winter purslane

Miners' lettuce is so easy to grow it has naturalised in some areas of the UK. It provides a steady salad crop from October until March, and tastes similar to spinach.

Oriental salad mix

Oriental salad leaf mixes can be grown as cut-and-come-again leaves. They require little attention and will provide you with a variety of flavours, colours and textures to enjoy in stir fries and salads. They may be grown in containers or in the ground.

Chilli 'Cayenne'

Chillies grow well in containers on a window sill or in a warm, sunny position outside. They have similar growing requirements to bush tomatoes and will continue to crop until the first frosts in autumn.

Courgette 'Defender' F1

Courgettes are renowned for producing an abundant crop from just a few plants. 'Defender' F1 is a British variety, ideal for small spaces, and is resistant to cucumber mosaic virus.





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Talkback: Vegetable plants for beginners
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charityshopgirl 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I wanted to say that I have Aly's book The Thrifty Gardener, and never before have I been so inspired!!! It is a fantastic book, on so many levels, I love the thrift element, and her advice has been invaluable, even though I have only had the book since Christmas. Thanks Alys, and Gardeners World............tele and mag.
x

chriswhite 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Brilliant - i love the cut -and -come again salad!

kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I like this feature, always up for easy, thankyou Gardeners World

nigelmalone 24/11/2011 at 15:28

just starting out - need to make my raised beds yet. i'll definitely look out for a copy of Aly's book! cheers

Nige

mitch1872 24/11/2011 at 15:29

i have only been sowing in my garden for 2years now and it is very small but every inch of it it taken up with something. I love it i grow my own veg,fruit and herbs. i have lots if bees and insects in my garden all the time and birds. its the best place in the world and my own grown food just taste the best. My mother always grew all her own stuff her garden is amazing so thanks mom for giving me the green finger.

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