We can all agree that the past year has been a strange one… it’s most likely that your expectations when writing those New Year’s plans and resolutions back in January 2020 have not been fulfilled, But one positive thing which the pandemic has brought about for the British public is a greater interest in getting outdoors, and becoming more at one with nature. This interest has, in turn, brought about a resurgence of the “grow your own” lifestyle, with people looking to start their very own “good life” in a 21st century manner.
There are so many reasons why starting your own vegetable patch, or even getting an allotment is a great idea. If you’ve really started getting into your own garden, or you like the concept of living more sustainably, this is a hobby which well and truly gives back!
We’ve put together a list of the things you should do when taking the plunge into your very own Tom and Barbara style adventure…
Clearing space & Digging out
The first step to starting to grow your own fruit and vegetables is to choose your growing space and get it cleared and ready. Whether you are finding a space in your own garden, re-purposing your window boxes or have invested in your very own allotment plot, the first thing to do is get your area prepped.
Start by clearing any weeds and debris in the area, taking you back to the bare soil. Next, for best results, break up your existing soil, either by hand or using a rotavator. Add in fresh soil or compost matter to your original soil when you turn it. Alternatively, if you are planting in the ground you could choose to build upwards with raised beds and just use fresh, turned soil here instead.
Tools for the job
When starting to grow your own fruit and veg from home, you’ll need to consider whether you have all the tools you’ll need to get the job done.
Essentials you’ll need are:
- A Digging Spade– This can double as a shovel too.
- A Garden Fork– Great for moving compost around as well as breaking up soil.
- A Hoe – Perfect for easy weed removal. Top tip: invest in a sharpener stone too- a blunt hoe is hard work!
- A Garden Rake – Use to level your soil.
- Secateurs– Great for a whole host of jobs including pruning, trimming and harvesting.
- A Garden Trowel- Choose a good quality trowel that’s comfortable to use and is strong enough to dig without bending.
Make a plan
Once you’ve turned your ground and prepped the area, the next step is to make a plan of what you want to plant where. Getting organised with a drawn out plan not only means you can have a clear idea of how your patch is going to look- you can also use this to work out approximately how many seeds or plants you will have room for, to avoid overbuying.
Additionally, if you’re just starting to get to grips with growing your own, your plans will help in future when you need to remind yourself what you planted where.
Now’s the fun part! Once you’ve made your plans, it’s time to start planting.
The RHS recommend you invest in growing more unusual produce that is costly to buy from a supermarket, but very easy to grow yourself.
Once you’ve chosen your crops and started planting out, make sure you bed them in a good quality compost and fertiliser to give them the best start they can get.
Something you might not have considered – but is a great idea for an allotment or ‘grow your own’ patch – is to include a cut flower area too. Think of how much money you’ll save if you can grow your own flowers for your own bouquets!
Consider not only which are your favourites, but also when they will be in their fullest bloom, trying to have a selection available throughout the spring and summer ready for those last-minute gifts. The key is to choose your buds based on not only what will look lovely in your garden, but also pride of place as a bouquet in your home.
Put your stamp on things
One of our best tips when building your patch is to make sure you have some fun and don’t take it all too seriously. For every mistake you might make, there’s always an opportunity to turn it into a learning experience (and possibly a funny anecdote for friends and family!)
It’s also fun to include some extra personalised touches such as solar lights and ornaments; who ever said that allotments had to be boring and practical?!
Get in the community spirit
If you’ve embarked on a full-on allotment venture, make sure you take the opportunity to get to know your neighbouring plots. Allotments are a great place to make new friends, as well as get some great advice from local expert growers.
If your patch is in your garden, this is still a great opportunity to get in the community spirit. Why not offer any excess crops to your friends or neighbours?
Thinking of getting a full-on allotment? Find out where your nearest allotment is, here.
And here’s another great resource for choosing the right crops for your patch, including based on soil type, sunlight and your own personal taste.
Want more inspiration on transforming your garden or home? Discover more articles, ideas, and inspiration right here!