Your Guide to Growing Fruit and Vegetables

fruit and vegetable gardeningGrowing fruit and vegetables at home is many people’s idea of the perfect way to cook and eat. Fresh vegetables taste fantastic, and the knowledge that you’re the person that has grown them can be incredibly exciting. Growing your own vegetables so that you constantly have a supply of food year in, year out, is also a very inexpensive way to live. Once you outlay the initial expense of buying plants or seeds (which isn’t very much!), and the time spent planting and nurturing the plants, you’ll be rewarded with crop after crop of lovely food.

One thing I’m going to point out is that when you grow produce at home, you’re never going to have perfect looking fruit and vegetables. They may be knobbly, funny shapes, lopsided or just a bit dodgy, but they’ll taste perfect. Don’t expect the perfect shapes of the vegetables that you get in the supermarket.

How to Grow

What you grow vastly depends on the weather you have and the soil you have. For pretty much every fruit and vegetable, your soil needs to be well-fertilized and rich. Make sure that you don’t just plant things in soil, as your plants won’t flourish. How often you water your plants depends on which plants you have – a good indicator is when the bud or the leaves are drooping slightly, give them a good shower with a watering can. When you first plant the seeds, plant them in a mound of soil that’s probably around a foot higher than the ground to either side of the mound. This ensures that they don’t get bogged down in water as this can rot them. When the plant begins to bear vegetables and fruit, if they’re too low in the ground, they’ll rot straight away.

With plants that climb, like cucumbers or strawberries, poke a few sticks into the ground near to where you plant them. Join the sticks up with some twine. This will mean that when they begin to grow, they can attach themselves to the sticks and twine, keeping themselves away from the soil and water.

Growing Schedule

If you follow this schedule of planting and harvesting, you should have enough food to keep you going all year. If you don’t have a lot of space, try just planting a few shrub plants, like currant brushes, as they’ll keep bearing fruit year after year, and a few potato crops. Think about the things you use the most and try to make space for them.

January

This is a good month for harvesting root vegetables like swede, parsnips, and leeks. Dig up potatoes and keep them in sacks filled with soil. Dig over your garden to create good, fresh soil. Harvest apples and pears from trees if you have them. January isn’t a good month for planting.

February

Plant broad beans and peas to harvest in the summer. Plant Jerusalem artichokes and shallots, and harvest any parsnips, swedes and potatoes that are still growing. Again, leeks can be harvested. If you have a greenhouse, you could start things like onions, rocket and radishes, and you could also start off aubergines and peppers. You can plant fruit trees and bushes, and you can begin to prune currants and gooseberries.

March

As the weather begins to get warmer, you can begin planting the following: turnips, beetroot, parsnips, radishes, lettuces, leeks, and Brussels sprouts. If you have a greenhouse, you can start growing tomatoes and cucumber. For cabbages, carrots and cauliflower, plant them but keep them covered so that they stay warm. You can harvest leeks and the last of the parsnips, as well as the last of the winter Brussels sprouts. You may also have spinach, chard, cauliflower and kale.

Read on tomorrow for the rest of your month by month growing guide.