Creating a vegetable garden at home is a great way to eat fresh, healthy food, while teaching your children where their food comes from. Starting a new vegetable patch is easy to do. You can start at any time of the year, but spring and autumn are the best times to begin work.
The best way to start a vegetable patch is to work on one area at a time. Dig the soil thoroughly to remove weeds and stones, and rake it level so it's easy to manage. You can sow some seeds direct into the soil from March onwards – read each seed packet for instructions. Pre-warming the soil using a cloche can improve germination rates and mean you can sow seed sooner.
More on growing fruit and veg:
Find tips and advice on creating your own veg plot, below.
Find the right spot
Some veg thrive in dappled shade, but most need sun to grow well. No crops will grow under a tree or in deep shade. Pick an area that's level, has good levels of sunshine and is sheltered from the worst of the wind. Access to a tap or a water butt cuts down trips with a watering can.
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Design your plot
Drawing out a plan of your new vegetable garden helps iron out glitches early. Plan beds in groups of four to make it easier to rotate your veg around the plot, so that pests and diseases don't build up. You can include flowers for cutting, too, such as gladioli, sunflowers and sweet peas.
Prepare the soil well. Dig out perennial weeds like couch grass and bindweed before you start planting your vegetable garden. Where possible, leave the soil for a couple of weeks after weeding, so that any annual seeds brought to the surface germinate. you can then simply hoe these off before sowing. Discover five ways to deal with weeds in our guide.
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Tackle a bit at a time
Start small – don't dig up the entire garden, only to realise you've taken on too much. Dig up a small area instead and get that right. Cover any unused areas with membrane or thick cardboard to keep weeds under control.
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Get the soil right
If your soil contains a lot of chalk or clay, it's easier to grow veg in raised beds. Fill the beds with a mixture of soil-based compost, council green waste and topsoil. If growing in soil, it's a good idea to do a pH test with a kit, to find out how acid or alkaline it is. Neutral soil is best, as most vegetable crops will grow well here.
Grow easy crops
Some vegetables are easier to grow than others. If you've never grown your own vegetables before, or if you're growing vegetables with children, it's a good idea to grow easy-to-grow crops first. Courgettes, potatoes, beans, strawberries, radish and beetroot are some great veg crops for beginners.
Discover more veg crops for beginners