Growing your own vegetables is rewarding, healthy and fun. But it can be daunting knowing how and where to start.
Some vegetables can be tricky to grow, requiring more time and effort than others. But others are easy, making them a great introduction into the world of Grow Your Own.
So, when you start growing veg for the first time, choose crops like courgettes, beans, beetroot, rocket, radish, chillies and potatoes. These require little maintenance, are ready to harvest within a short time, and suffer few pests and diseases.
Make the best use of your time by growing the easy-care crop varieties recommended below.
Beetroot can be sown direct into shallow drills in the soil, and are ready to harvest within a few weeks. ‘Boltardy’ is a popular and reliable globe-shaped beetroot. It has good resistance to bolting (running to seed), making it a perfect choice for beginner growers. It produces medium-sized roots, with smooth skin and deep red flesh. Find out all you need to know in our beetroot Grow Guide.
Cut-and-come-again salad leaves
Salad leaves like rocket and oak-leaf lettuce can be sown in pots and harvested on a cut-and-come-again basis, so you don’t need to tend the plants for long. Find out all you need to know in our salad leaves Grow Guide.
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. Find out all you need to know in our tomato Grow Guide.
Early potatoes ‘Anya’ or ‘Red Duke of York’
Early potatoes can be harvested in July, before hot, humid weather increases the threat of potato blight. Grow them in the ground or in containers. ‘Red Duke of York’ is an attractive red-skinned variety and ‘Anya’ has long tubers with a nutty taste. Find out more in our potato Grow Guide.
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. Discover more in our pea Grow Guide.
Radish ‘Scarlet Globe’ or ‘French Breakfast’
Radish seeds are fairly large, so they are easy to sow and don’t need thinning out. They are ready to harvest within just a few weeks. ‘French Breakfast’ has crisp, oval, red and white roots while ‘Scarlet Globe’ is bright scarlet with white flesh.
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. Find out how to grow winter salad.
Japanese and Chinese salad leaves
Japanese leafy crops such as mizuna and mibuna and Chinese mustard 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. Watch Monty Don sow Japanese and Chinese leaves for winter.
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. Find out more in our chillies and peppers Grow Guide.
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. Read more in our courgette Grow Guide.
Tips for growing vegetables
- Only grow what you have space for. If you don’t have a large garden you can grow some salad crops in window boxes, pots or growing bags. Aim for as much soil depth as you have space for, to prevent the plants from drying out quickly in dry weather.
- Always choose a sheltered, sunny spot for growing your beg. Exceptions to this rule include salad leaves and some herbs, which can bolt (run to seed) in full sun, and therefore do better in partial shade.
- Ensure your soil is packed with nutrients to aid plant growth, by adding annual dressings of home-made compost, leaf mould and well-rotted manure.
- Use physical barriers such as copper tape to deter slugs and snails. If possible, start off vulnerable plants, such as salad leaves and courgettes, indoors, and plant them out when they’re big enough to withstand attack.
- Don’t grow plants too closely together and prick out if necessary – always follow the spacing suggestions on the seed packet.
- Water plants well and stake if necessary, to stop them flopping over.