If you’re new to growing veg, it can be daunting – how do you start, and which crops do you choose?
Growing veg can be quite time-consuming but if you choose your crops carefully, you will reduce your workload and still enjoy abundant harvests.
Short on space? Then discover space-saving crops to grow.
Some crops, such as tomatoes, need a fair bit of care in order to get a decent crop, but others need less looking after. These are a good bet if you’re short on time or can’t get to your plot or allotment very often.
Make the best use of your time by growing the easy-care crops recommended below.
Courgettes, squashes and patty pans
Courgettes, squashes and patty pans are easy to grow. Plant out in late May into well-prepared ground (buy young plants to save time). One or two plants are plenty – they stay productive for weeks (providing you keep picking, otherwise they will turn into marrows!).
Sow beetroot seeds 5cm apart, from late April to July. Remove alternate roots when they are half-grown, leaving the rest to grow on to reach maturity. Even these half-grown thinnings are useful and can be eaten as baby beet in salads.
Chillies are colourful, fun, stylish and trouble-free. Choose your favourite strength and grow three plants in a large tub on the patio with a cane for support. They’ll provide ample crops, with enough over to store over winter. Discover some hot chillies to grow.
Dwarf French beans
Sow French beans where you want them to grow, in open ground or containers, from mid-May to early August. They’re easy to look after as no thinning out or supports are needed. The same plants crop for three to four weeks, so sow a row every three weeks to keep yourself stocked all summer.
Potatoes in pots
Potatoes are surprisingly easy to grow in large pots, or even a large bag such as an old compost bag, and they require less maintenance this way, too. Simply add a few seed potatoes to a layer of compost, cover with more compost and leave to grow. When the leaves start to appear, cover with more compost. Find out how to grow potatoes in pots.
Once planted, strawberry plants should crop well for three or four years. Barely any maintenance is needed – just tidy the plants in spring. Find out how to make a strawberry bed.
Radishes are one of the easiest crops you can grow, and among the speediest, too – you could get a crop in as little as four weeks. Discover more fast-growing veg to grow.
Shallots are a gourmet treat and another easy crop to grow. The simplest way to grow them is from sets (small shallots) in spring or early autumn, that you grow on to cooking size. Weed by hand as they’re shallow-rooted.
Currants and gooseberries
Gooseberries and currants need pruning in winter, and that’s about it, apart from harvesting them! If you don’t have time to turn the fruits into jams, pies etc, they freeze well.
Rhubarb is easy to grow and will crop for many years. It provides a harvest when other crops are thin on the ground, and you can force rhubarb for an earlier crop. Find out how to grow rhubarb.
Tips for a low-maintenance veg plot
- Spread a black plastic mulch on areas that you’re not using – this will keep weeds down. You can also use a mulch around crops such as courgettes and strawberries to minimise weeds and slug damage.
- Keep your tools and ideally, a water supply, close to your plot.
- Grow veg in raised beds, and try the ‘no dig’ method, mulching with compost annually instead.
- Buy young plants at the garden centre in spring to avoid growing from seed.
- Grow companion plants to attract pollinators and deter pests.