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Friday 1 May 2020

Easy Herbs, Fruit & Veg You Can Grow At Home

Last year was the first time I really embraced growing my own veg and boy was it an enlightening experience and with my belief that everything I grow should be organic, soil, fertilisers and pest controls all had to be considered.

There were a fair few lessons learned and a numerous guides and books read in the process to try and learn what an earth I should be doing. So I thought, I'd share what I learnt as you enter into the veg and herb growing season.

One thing to remember though, it doesn't have to look super neat! Just look at my mayhem from last year below!

Time of year to grow veg?

April is often the time that most people will start considering planting out veg. Be careful though of frosts as these could kill of your seedlings. If you are wanting to grow from seed you may therefore need to just consider whether you can cover your plants to stop them from getting frost bite, or whether you have a small space inside for seeds which are not very hardy to get growing in the warmth. Once the weather is a little water you can then get planted out. If possible though, buy them from a garden centre.

Why Grow Organic?

Wit hall the talk of growing our own food, one thing that I believe to be really important is ensuring what we grow is organic. We do not need our food to look perfect, it can be any shape or size. By growing organically it means you can avoid harmful chemicals which are not good for your body and also means that you are not having dangerous chemicals leach into the environment around us which is causing severe damage to our water systoms. So please, always opt for organic options if you can afford it. There are also lots of organic pest control methods as well which should always be your first point of call! We want to work with nature, and that should mean we try not to kill other organisms that live there! Deter yes, kill no! For more info on organic though, there are lots of good online resources including this guide for reasons why to eat organic.

Easy Herbs to Grow at Home

One lesson to mote below starting with herbs is that if purchased from a super market, they will not be suitable for the outside. They will likely also need a lot of love and care, and very little harvesting in the first few weeks of ownership to allow the plant to become properly established. After this time period you can then introduce them gradually to the outside (by leaving them out only in the day). Alternatively, you can just keep them on the kitchen side. 


Super quick growing, Mint in some ways can survive on a fair amount of neglect. One thing to be aware of though is that have roots that love alot of space. This means they can kill of other herbs if planted in the same space. Therefore, be sure to keep mint in its own pot and avoid window boxes (unless there are clear separations).


Best bought as a plant due to slow growth (like Lavender), Rosemary is a great herb to grow which will leave a lovely scent in the garden. The plant can be kept in small or slightly bigger spaces and this makes them the perfect windowsill plant.


Another absolute cooking classic, tyme us super easy to look after and can be grown from plant or seed. The benefit is that they are evergreen and so can last all year round. Perfect for when you need some extra flavour in food in winter!


Basil, unlike other herbs should really be kept inside as they do not like the cold. If you live in cities, where the summer temperature will not fall very low though, you can leave them outside during this period should you like. Their love of warmth also means they will take as much sunlight as possible. Just remember to water regularly due to soil drying out!


Obviously if you hate the taste of this plant, growing it is probably not going to be for you, but if you do like the taste, its a super easy herb to grow. All it needs is sunlight for some of the day and regular water and a medium depth pot.


A pretty sturdy herb, sage just like tyme last throughout the year and can be picked well into the winter seasons! 

Some maintenance tips for herbs

1. Most herbs will want well drained soil (where water will not pool and can easily run off). If you do not have this it is best to plant your herbs into large pots or window bays. One way to guarantee run of is place some pebbles at the bottom of you pot before adding your compost and plants, this will prevent the roots from sitting in any water if there is a lot of rain.

2. Regular water is essential. This may sound obvious but watering in summer time is an intense process and if you forget you could risk them drying out. Best times are to water first thing in the morning, or at night. Pretend its like having a rabbit who needs to be checked on once or twice a day. If the soil feels to dry, it probably is!

3. Provide organic fertiliser feed every 2-3 weeks to give them a boost. The one often recommended is Seaweed fertiliser but there are other alternatives.

Easy Fruit & Vegetables to Grow at Home

Veg and fruits can be a little more demanding due to the nature of what they are growing. You need to be more aware of pests, ensuring they've have plenty of fertiliser, that they are in good soil and are encouraged to grow in the right places (tomato plants can get out of control, I found this out last year!).
One great thing about veg though is you can buy seedlings from many garden centres if you do not want to grow from seeds yourself! 
One word of warning, if you have regular cat visitors to your garden be careful to make sure everything you grow is not near where they spray or sleep. I lost all my courgettes and a strawberry plant to this which was heartbreaking!


Provide them with a spot where they get both some sun and shade and if possible slightly clay like soil and they will thrive. You may need to protect them once they are a little further developed as birds may try and grab them and as they sit very low on the ground, you could need to put some fleece down to protect them against the frost. 

One idea I love, why not plant them in a hanging basket, this means the fruit can then grow down over the sides! A pretty sight and a space saver if you only have a small outside spot. 


My mum has been telling me to grow cut and grow lettuce for the past 2 years and I'm still to fulfill this objective, but I will certainly be trying to this year. The super easy crop can be continuously harvested throughout the year allowing you a steady stream of fresh veg!


So long as you dont let cats squish the seedlings, you will find courgettes expectionally easy to grow. If you're planting straight out as a seed, best to wait till May time, they will need a fair amount of space between each seed (each seed can grow 3-4 courgettes each) and so better to give more space than not enough! If you want to plant in containers, just be sure to one plant one plant per container instead of multiple in the same spot!

French Beans

Another classic which I learnt the hard way how not to grow (my plant grew a singular bean and it was adorable!). Climbing french beans will need a support and something that they can climb up as they grow, this could be a few canes to create a triangle over the plant so that it can weave through. I would recommend planting in their own pot, and be sure to put down organic slug wool (or if you're vegan there are other alternatives to wool), because snails and slugs will try their best to much on your seedlings!


My greatest success was without a double by 3 tomato plants (that did get a little out of control). Like beans Tomatoes are best if they have something to grow up and so when possible place them on a frame where you can ensure they grow straight. When you have enough offshoots (3 or 4 is enough) be sure to brake off any of the other new branches trying to grow. This will prevent the plants energy into growing bigger and instead encourage the fruits to grow! You can just strap to canes but be sure they're sturdy as the plants will have some weight when the fruits are nearing maturity. 

Just like with strawberry's you can also grow tomatoes in a hanging basket, just be sure not to end up with too many branches hanging down! 


One of my successes last year was definitely my broccoli plant. Be sure when planting out as a seedling that you provide it with protection against snails and slugs until it is slightly more developed and off the ground! One thing to remember is to harvest as soon as the head looks ready, this will allow the plant to then grow another head. If you do this too late, the second sprouts will not grow. The plant only takes around 12 weeks to grow and is super rewarding!

Some maintenance tips for fruit and veg

1. Most veg, like herbs will want well drained soil so be sure that where ever your planting water can drain away. That includes grow bags as well!

2. Regular water is essential. I'll stick with my pet analogy from earlier!

3. Provide organic fertiliser feed every week. More fertiliser is required due to the highly nutrient crop that is being produced. Different crops will respond better to different fertilisers. Organic Seaweed fertiliser is recommended in general, but specific tomato and potato fertilisers are also available for those crops.

Other Fruit and Veg that you could try growing at home

1. Potatoes - perfect for a grow bag, a big pot or if your got enough depth the garden soil! Be sure to buy potato seedlings just to gaurentee no diseases on your crops! Better to be safe than sorry.

2. Beetroot - Easy for container growing or the soil, you can continue to plant seeds through out the summer so that you have crops all season long.

3. Radish - Be sure to give space and beware of slugs and snails as the crop starts to grow!

4. Chillies - So long as they're kept warm chillies can be easily grown in the UK. So just sow seeds inside and grow indoors until summer time before putting them outside! Be sure to harvest regularly to ensure the plant puts the energy into growing seeds not just branches.

So there you have it. Some garden inspiration that I hope will show you whether its just a windowsill or a garden, you can try your hand at growing any food you fancy!


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