Growing your own food is not just a trend among environmentalists and people who want to switch to a more organic lifestyle. Folks who wish to save a few pennies on buying fresh greens and veg also look into spending more time in the garden and growing their own. So, we’ve decided to check out a few cost-effective vegetables and share some tips with you on when to plant them and how to take care of them until they are ready for harvest.

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Read on, if:

  • you wonder what veggies you can plant in the spring.
  • you are a green-fingered enthusiast who has plenty of time on their hands.
  • you want to have a go at growing your own vegetable garden and need some expert advice.

What easy-to-grow vegetables to plant this spring or early summer

With the weather warming up in the UK and the current situation of all of us doing our best to observe social distancing, it’s maybe a good idea to think of how we can put our time at home to good use. And starting a vegetable garden is one of those good examples of combining pleasure with doing something useful and practical that is also beneficial for the mind. Now, let’s see what delicious and cost-effective veggies can be planted in the UK in the spring or early summer! 

  • Broad beans – You can sow your broad beans in small pots until the end of April. They will germinate within a couple of weeks, at the latest. Try not to over water the seeds during the germination period. The seedlings can be kept under direct sunlight. We recommend transplanting them after a month in bigger pots or directly in your garden. By mid-August, you should be harvesting your fresh beans. 
  • Lettuce – Lettuces are so easy to grow and quick to germinate (4-10 days) that you shouldn’t skip them from your veg garden planning. You can sow them directly in your vegetable bed throughout spring and early summer and then space the seedlings out at 30cm gaps. You will easily enjoy eating your crunchy greens until late November with the right care and attention. Good veggies to combine growing with your lettuces are the tasty radishes, which the lettuce tenderises if grown next to them.
  • Cabbage – This is another great veg to plant this April, providing you’ve got the space. Harvesting goes on throughout July till the end of September, depending on when you’ve planted the seeds. Take precautions against slugs and caterpillars to ensure that your cabbages grow their best. The plant is “spinach- and broccoli-friendly”, so you can have the latter sown next to your cabbage.
  • Courgettes – Not everyone likes eating courgettes but if you do, you’ve got until mid-May to start them from seeds. Sow them in small pots and keep in a well-lit greenhouse for a month until you transplant them outdoors at a 50cm gap. Courgettes like frequent watering and will be ready for harvest within a couple of months. You’ll be picking these great-tasting vegetables until the end of October.
  • Leaks – Sow your leeks at a 1cm gap this April directly in the garden. They should germinate in approximately 10 days. After about a month you can space the plants out at a 15 cm distance from each other. Your leaks should be ready to pick in about three months and you’ll have a good supply for your soups and stews throughout late autumn and well into early winter. Note that slugs are your biggest enemy when growing leaks.
  • Spinach – The good news about spinach is that it is a perpetual crop, meaning you will enjoy its fresh taste, vitamins and beneficial minerals throughout summer, autumn and winter, i.e. for a good six months. Naturally, to achieve this, you’ll have to start new plants from seed every couple of weeks from April till July. Spinach germinates and reaches maturity fairly quickly, as well as it’s not that capricious to grow. Don’t forget to space out your spinach seedlings after about a month from sowing (at gaps of 15-20 cm).
  • Tomatoes – British climate might not be the best for growing your own tomatoes but if you live in the southern parts of the country, you can have a go at starting them up indoors from seed in March or April. Transplant the tomatoes in your garden in a month’s time in an area with good sunlight exposure. Ensure that there’s a space of 50cm between each plant if you’ve decided to grow them directly in your vegetable patch. Watch out for powdery mildew problems during wet weather conditions.
  • Potatoes – It makes sense to grow your own organic potatoes as they are “staple” vegetables worldwide. Start early (salad) potatoes from seed potatoes in March and maincrop potatoes in April or early May. Plant them at a depth of 12 cm and about 30-40cm apart. You’ll need to leave a good 60cm between rows, as well. They should germinate in about 8 to 15 days. You’ll be harvesting them from July till September, depending on what variety you’ve chosen to grow. Pests like wireworms and eelworms are the ones to watch out for and also beware of moles damaging the plants, as well. Of course, if you don’t have a huge garden you can try growing your potatoes in containers.
  • Carrots – Nothing can compare to the taste of home-grown carrots – sweet, tender and crunchy! Sow directly in the garden through April till July. Germination doesn’t take any longer than a couple of weeks. Soil should be well-drained, meaning you may need to add some sand if you happen to have clayey soil. Carrots grow well next to cabbages, lettuces and onions. Crops will be ready for harvest between July and October, depending on when you’ve started them from seed (60-80 days).
  • Broccoli – Brits love their broccoli and we have to say, the vegetable is suited well to our climate. You’ve got until May to sow the plant under direct sunlight, which will germinate within about 10 days. Seedlings should have enough space between each other (40-50cm). Harvesting occurs in the summer until the end of September. Water regularly your broccoli but try not to wet the heads. Watch out for caterpillars as they commonly cause issues with this super-food veg. 

Of course, the above list can go on but we’ll stop here. After all, you probably don’t have the space to grow lots, anyway, or have a rich variety of veggies in your garden. So, just make the most of your green outdoor area and plant your favourite ones! The seeds of vegetables cost pennies, so you’ll be reducing your food costs in the long run, as you’ll be only using your own labour and a bit of water to produce these edible plants.

Related: Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Why try growing your own vegetables this year

Well, we’ve been seeing a surge in articles on growing your own veggies and herbs in these dire times of social distancing and at the backdrop of empty supermarket shelves, pricey fresh produce and shortage of workforce across British farms. And we’ll all agree that it makes sense to grow a few of your favourite varieties if you have a garden for the above reasons, but also because they would taste so much better than those, sold at your local store. 

So, let’s sum up the advantages of producing your own fresh food!

The benefits of having a vegetable garden

  • Organic food – When growing your own vegetables, you can resort to using various bio methods, in order to deter pests and plant diseases.
  • Therapeutic effect – Gardening is deemed great for our mental health in any stressful situation, let alone during global lockdown circumstances.
  • Eco-friendly pastime – The fact that you’re considering to eat produce, grown in your backyard, or in other words, it’s not been flown to you for miles from across the globe, is a great nature-conscious decision to make.
  • Healthy outdoor activity – Collect some Vitamin D while doing a bit of physical work out in your garden that will tone your back and muscles in no time!
  • Money-saving choice – Well, small-sized gardens with a patch of lawn can’t save you lots of money if you grow a few lettuce plants and some carrots. But you’ll still get this “feel” of cost-effectiveness when you harvest your own veg instead of paying for it at your local store.
  • Smart move in times of shortage – We’ve mentioned above empty shop shelves and the harvesting troubles of British farmers, so growing your own fruit and veg can save the day in times of economic hardship.
Related: The Ultimate Herb Gardening for Beginners’ Guide

How much will I save if I grow and eat my own vegetable produce?

Look, let’s be honest here! Unless you own a smallholding, a plot that is at least 250sq.m in size or an allotment, you can’t really save tonnes by growing your own vegetables. Also, it’s soft fruit really that will give you the best return, as tiny quantities of red berries cost quite a lot to buy. Still, as an estimate, a relatively large space (300 sq.m), planted with vegetables can be “worth” about £500-600 a year, depending on what varieties you grow. Apparently, aubergines, courgettes, brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes are the biggest savers, in terms of seed cost vs. veg if purchased from a shop. 

To sum up, we can’t actually answer this question, as many factors are at play when talking about the cost-effectiveness of growing your own edible plants. But what we know for sure is that there isn’t a better sense of achievement and pleasure than eating your home-grown delicious fresh greens, tomatoes and carrots. 

Do you need help with planting and caring for your garden?

Right then, if you have time on your hands and some enthusiasm, you can’t go wrong with trying to grow a few herbs and some vegetables this spring. But if you’re busy, or you’re a total newbie who doesn’t own a single gardening tool, then we can help. Fantastic Services provides expert planting and garden maintenance services, which are performed by skilled and experienced gardeners. The experts can bring all the plant seeds, upon request, if you specify beforehand what varieties you are keen to grow. They can help you prepare a designated veggie patch or build a raised bed, as well, as they come fully-equipped with various tools for the job at hand.

Furthermore, you don’t have to be even present during the service, be it because you’re at work or you prefer to stay inside your home. As long as the gardeners have access to your garden and a list of the tasks you need completing, the team will just get on with the work without disturbing your daily routine. 

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Takeaways

  • Growing your own fresh food has a number of benefits – you’ll enjoy eating organic vegetables and save some money in the process.
  • Did you know that you can grow various herbs and veggies in containers if you live in a flat or you have a tiny garden?
  • Gardening is a proven therapeutic activity, but creating an edible garden is also practical and kind to the environment.
  • You can build a raised veggie bed as a shortcut to growing your own greens and skip all the hard work of digging.
  • And if you’re able to grow vast quantities of fresh greens, you can always sell or give some of your excess produce away to friends and neighbours.

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Have you thought about having a vegetable garden? What varieties would you like to grow? Please, tell us in the comment section below and feel free to share our post with your friends!

Image source: Shutterstock / gpointstudio

  • Last update: July 20, 2020

Posted in Garden Advice, Life Under Lockdown

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