I expect you’ll have heard about our poly tunnel as we’ve mentioned it a few times now. One of the reasons we’re continually talking about it is because we’re so excited about it ! It’s been a lifelong ambition to be self-sufficient with fruit and vegetables and last year with a lot of hard work that ambition become a reality. Throughout the summer and autumn months, myself and Angela were able to eat fruit, vegetables and herbs solely grown from our poly tunnel. It really is an incredibly rewarding project!
Although a poly tunnel the size of ours can be very time consuming, we are now growing produce to sell and this turns the time and dedication required into a considerable investment. However, you don't have to invest a huge amount of time, effort and money to grow a few simple veggies of your own. I often talk to customers about starting their own kitchen garden as it's something I’m very passionate about (Can you tell? ). People often don't know where to start and so I give them all the same advice, “Start small and grow what you like to eat.” There’s no point wasting your time and effort on vegetables that are either difficult to grow or that you’re unlikely to eat. I also tell customers that they shouldn't get disheartened if it takes a few times to get it right. Planting and soil conditions can have a huge impact on the success of your veggie patch and the temperamental Scottish climate certainly doesn't help. Also, you don't need to have a huge amount of space. Some items - herbs in particular - can be grown in window boxes and planters which can fit on balconies or terraces. One thing you do need to consider seriously when starting out, is when planting, I would suggest that you don't sow your own seeds. You can pick up ready sowed seeds that are ready to plant outdoors in most garden centers.
That said, I’ve suggested a couple of easy to grow veggies that are just right for first time kitchen gardeners. Here are my top three suggestions for easy ‘grow your own vegetables’ to plant in late spring.
Onions are incredibly versatile and have so many varieties. I love growing shallots, but as a first timer I would suggest the good old white onion as a sure winner. I use onions in everything - sauces, stews, chutneys, etc. You probably will too and that's why they tend to be a great return on your investment. The easiest way to grow onions is from sets. These are onions that were part grown the year before and stopped growing during the planting process. You can pick up bags of sets from most garden centres. Onions need fertile, well-drained soil, and to be placed in a sunny, but well-sheltered spot. Plant them six inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. They only need to be gently pushed into the soil and should have their root still visible. Don't plant any sets that have green roots as these are unlikely to grow. Once your onions are settled and have begun to grow, avoid watering or feeding any which have become rounded and started to swell . Ensure you remove soil around the top so they can get sufficient sunlight. They should be ready for harvest around August.
Potatoes are a Scottish staple with most people using them at least once, if not more, during weekly meal times. They’re perfect for your Sunday roasties or a really good chip. Who doesn't love chips? Potatoes are best planted in a trench, so you’ll probably need a fairly good sized planter if you're not planning to plant them in the ground. You should plant your potatoes around six inches deep and around 12 inches apart. In the garden centre you will be looking for Tubers which are small potatoes that can be planted to grow in the ground or containers. We would also recommend chitin potatoes to allow them to sprout. When you plant the sprout should be facing upwards. Once planted, back fill the trench with soil. The soil should be well-draining as potatoes will rot if there is too much clay in the ground. Potatoes need good sunlight and to be kept away from frost. Potatoes planted in May should be ready around September time.
Originally popular in Asian cooking, garlic has become another Scottish kitchen staple. Although it’s normally recommend to plant garlic over the winter, it can be also planted in spring for an autumn harvest. The bulbs tend to not be as large, but you can still grow some quality garlic if you plant them now. As with onions, you can buy garlic in sets from your local garden centre. Garlic prefers well-nourished soil, so get as much compost and as many worms in the soil as possible. Garlic should be pushed into the soil as deep as the clove itself with the pointed end facing upwards. Plant your garlic three inches apart in rows around 10 inches in distance. Garlic likes sun and doesn't need much shade, however can be susceptible to damage from weeds so be careful if you are planting in the ground. Garlic is very low maintenance and doesn't require too much watering unless it has been very hot.
Go on, get planting
Don't forget that J.R Evans can offer you assistance with growing your own vegetables. We can build raised planters for you and help you get started with your own kitchen garden. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for further details.