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Revisited! Great 'Grow Your Own' Hunt: share your top tips on home cultivation

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  • We moved into a flat with a (shared) back garden recently and after living in a top floor (no garden) flat for 6 years i was keen to grow some veg. Have been growing stuff in containers - mostly lettuce (for baby leaves, cut and come again crop) as well as herbs and radishes (cherry belle). Chose these as I eat lots of salad in summer and I wanted something which grew fast and was suitable for containers. Also the ready made bags of mixed baby salad leaves sold at supermarkets are ridiculously expensive so growing your own made sense. You can get 'mixed salad leaves' seeds or just pick your own favourites.

    Anyway, I have found the following sites useful, perhaps others will too?

    WilkinsonPlus (Wilkinsons online if you don't have a local shop): Got plastic windowboxes for £1 each as well as some cheap plastic containers (this is before I heard about getting the flower buckets cheap/free from supermarkets) and some vermiculite (£1 a bag to mix with compost for improved water retention). There was a money off /free delivery code on mse. Pound shops (Poundland) also have window boxes for - £1. ;)

    I got seeds and peat free compost as well as a seaweed feed from Tamar Organics:
    http://www.tamarorganics.co.uk/pages/catalogue.php?status=2&cat=10&typename=COMPOSTS+%26+FERTILISERS&prod=625

    This site (More Veg) was also good for small amounts of seed at 50p per packet: http://moreveg.net/

    I also used ebay (premier seeds direct) Nicky's (http://www.nickys-nursery.co.uk/) and suffolkherbs.com for some more unusual seed varieties and have heard that Real Seeds are very good (will try them next year):
    http://www.realseeds.co.uk/

    There are more suggestions/recommendations for seed companies here:
    http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/grapevine/vegging-out/seed-companys_2963.html

    I got polystyrene for free on freecycle and broke this into pieces to put in the bottom of containers for drainage.

    I mixed the compost with vermiculite and some worm cast from http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/ and filled the containers with the compost mix then sowed the seeds thinly and covered with a little compost. After 5 days or so (and regular watering, with water mixed with a tiny amount of seaweed feed) the little seedlings started popping their heads through. :)

    Watering regularly and in as little as 3 or 4 weeks you will have baby salad leaves to cut (they will regrow for another couple of crops) and radishes etc.

    Self adhesive copper tape was recommended for slugs - the cheapest place for this was ebay at £7 for 3 rolls (each roll was 4 metres long).
    I did read somewhere that WD40 sprayed on the outside of plastic pots is also effective and a cheap alternative.

    Ecover washing up liquid diluted (5 or 10 ml in 500ml of water) and used in a spray bottle was suggested for other pests as was a garlic spray.

    Here and the forums at Grow Your Own were very helpful, which was where I got most of the above tips and advice:
    http://www.growfruitandveg.co.uk/grapevine/ ;)

    If you want something very fast and easy grow mustard, cress or peas (for pea shoots) in those plastic containers you get strawberries and other soft fruit in (one with holes for drainage placed inside one without holes: for water) - will grow on a windowsill/ kitchen counter and give you fresh greens for salad in as little as 2 weeks.

    Or if you are lazy you can get a ready made kitchen garden or herb garden -
    http://www.thenaturalgardener.co.uk/kitchen_salad_garden.php
    (a biodegradable coir trough filled with salad plants or herbs).

    I am still very much a beginner but it's good fun and quite addictive once you get into it. :cool:
    "The happiest of people don't necessarily have the
    best of everything; they just make the best
    of everything that comes along their way."
    -- Author Unknown --
  • Hellbell_2
    Hellbell_2 Posts: 23 Forumite
    I've been growing my own in my back garden for the last 3 years. My biggest problem has been keeping everything watered as I don't have an outside tap, so have to do it all by hand with a watering can.

    Inevitably I ended up planting far too much, and although most of the plants seem to cope with being ignored and just fend for themselves, I have lost some due to the ‘drought’.

    My advice would definitely be to make sure you have a hose or automatic watering. It takes up a lot of time otherwise.

    I love growing my own veg but I keep ending up growing a little bit of everything, instead of concentrating on a really decent crop of just a few veg.

    My biggest successes so far have been potatoes, courgettes and runner beans. Still haven’t managed to grow a spring onion!
  • kazwookie
    kazwookie Posts: 13,837 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Photogenic First Post
    Patch of earth, spade and fork and away you go.

    Spuds in tubs / compost bags, been doing a bit of firkling :rotfl:

    Strawberries in a small area.

    Pumpkins on their way.

    The Spud club :j
    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=1032771

    And this thread has been a great inspriation

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=903763
    Breast Cancer Now 2022 100 miles October 100 / 100miles
    Sun, Sea

    2024 7/28 lbs to go.
  • jenfa
    jenfa Posts: 125 Forumite
    last year we moved to a property with a 3/4 acre plot, the house needs lots of work so we said we wouldn't do much in the garden, but it does have a v large greenhouse.

    However, we decided to see what we could grow, in the greenhouse we have courgettes, they take a lot of room but we have had very good return and of course they are quite expensive to buy. Not much luck with cucumbers, we learnt you need to cover any type of pea or bean seed as the voles and mice dig them up. On a window sill we have 6 large chilli plants, they are supposed to be birdseye but seem to be growing very large.

    One of the most successful has been 3 mange tout plants grown in a plant pot, supported by canes and against a wall so it gets the heat, we have done so well with these that as they are now coming to the end we have planted some more to take over. In long trough pots we grow pac choi and kai lan (my husband is Chinese) and these veg cost a fortune in the supermarket. Grow only a few then resow in a few weeks so that you have continued veg.
    We have also sown spinach in a pot plus of course tomatoes.

    We have strawberries in pots and when they put out runners we shove them in pots to create new plants so doesn't matter if you lose a few in the winter.

    Most of the seeds we bought were from Wilkinsons and were their own brand they have a large selection and had unusual varieties too.
  • I grow things that are expensive in the shop - like Mange tout or sugar snap peas - you can keep picking them for weeks every day or 2, there's no waste - and you can eat them raw. Lettuce grow well in containers and don't mind a bit of cold weather, they don't like getting hot and dry though. Onions can be planted in between your flowers without looking too strange. Winter Curly Kale planted now will keep you in cabbage like leaves through the winter months - 6 plants will be plenty for a family of 4. Perpetual spinach also lasts the winter, but grows in the summer as well - plant in spring for summer, and in summer for winter!!!

    Runner beans grow in big pots - give them some liquid feed. Grow the more expensive tomatoes - cherry size ones seeds cost the same as the bigger sized moneymaker tomatoes which you would buy in the supermarket for less. - feed with liquid tomato food - even cheap supermarket branded tomato food works nicely. If you only have room for a grow bag, put the soil into pots - you increase the surface area - if you want to grow lettuce in a grow bag, it spills over the place when you water. If you have enough ground to start a veggie patch - try to keep the weeds down with a hoe every week - don't plant things closer together than the hoe's width, or you will have to hand week. Hoe all the ground - it keeps a ';dust mulch' which stops the water evaporating quickly.

    Read the packets for the correct spacing, this year there was a spelling mistake on my sprouting brocolli - it said 2" rather than 2' - and they didn't do so well. watch the weather - some plants hate cold - it may be better to wait a couple of weeks until the weather warms up in May, rather than be too eager and have your beetroot seedlings slowed down - they never seem to catch up.
  • sarahemmm
    sarahemmm Posts: 116 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Particularly if you don't have a lot of space or a lot of time, I recommend you concentrate on things which are expensive to buy. Potatoes, carrots and onions are great if you have an allotment, but if you only have a small space, start with herbs and things which are best when absolutely fresh (lettuce, radish, etc).

    Don't grow stuff that you don't use, so if you don't use herbs normally, don't grow them!

    The 'flower' bed in my front garden is a herb bed. I have rosemary, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, lavender, curry plant, fennel. These are all easy to grow and are perennial, so they will go on for years. If you have any experience, or a gardening friend, you can start a new plant from cuttings. Take a small plastic bag when you visit a garden - you can often 'borrow' a cutting.

    I am fortunate enough to have a greenhouse, and this year it is filled with chillis (fruiting already), tomatoes, tomatillos (I've never seen these in any shop, so this is trial run), physalis (very expensive to buy), basil (shall be making pesto soon) and coriander. All of these are in growbags which cost £1 each (Roys or Lidl). I also bought a large container of tomato food and apart from the seed, that is it for costs.

    I have also tried a cucumber, which is nice, but doesn't really seem worth it to me. Ditto for potatoes and courgettes.

    Good value is baby leaves or cut and come again lettuce. Many of these will go on well into the cold weather if you sow more seed every few weeks.

    Don't forget watering: most herbs are tough and need little care, but veg tend to need daily watering in dry weather.
  • Those with hens should think about using crushed eggshells laid around plants or beds, slugs hate the texture of it.

    If anybody can get hold of old coffee grounds (your local cafe?) this also works to keep slugs of plants. Just lay a strip of it around the plant or bed again.

    This along with the old slug pub should keep them to an acceptable level, keeping everything organic and saving some money on cat litter and chemicals.

    Save money on fertilzer by picking 2lbs of nettles and add it to 1 gallon of water in a covered bucket. Leave it for 2-3 weeks and give it the odd stir, it's supposed to stink so don't worry. Strain the mix and dilute the fertilizer with water on a ratio of 1 to 10. The plants love it.
  • JWF
    JWF Posts: 363 Forumite
    Tips I've learnt

    Don't forget to thin stuff out BEFORE it gets massive and the plants grow all over each other!

    Earth up your spuds while they're still small, my plants quickly got so big and straggly that I couldn't get on the plot any more.

    Leave your greenhouse door open a bit - I have loads of hoverflies in there most days and they are doing a grand job at keeping the greenfly at bay.

    And last but not least - have a think about how big the plants will be when they are mature - so that you don't plant things far too close together and have your spuds cover up loads of other stuff before it got chance to grow.
    All I seem to hear is blah blah blah!
  • kprice580
    kprice580 Posts: 269 Forumite
    Hello, my first post/reply on here!

    My DH and I want to clear an area so we can have a veggie patch, But I have a few questions for you budding greenies first!

    How do I prepare the ground/soil?
    What is best to start with??
    How do I make it so my two children 5 & 2 dont ruin what we do? (I want them to help not hinder)

    I have trees & plants and they pull them up & break branches off. I had a strawberry plant last year they pinched the soil to make slob dosh! so my plants died!!

    I need help!

    Thanks in advance
    Kate x x
    If you dont ask you dont get to know....
    Sealed pot no277
  • spookyness
    spookyness Posts: 10 Forumite
    i have grown my own this year
    potatoes and broccolli are cropping now .. along with peas and broadbeans
    later in the year i have a second potatoe crop .. leeks and beetroot,
    and at then start of winter we have cabbage and cauliflours aswell as my xmas sprouts
    i paid £14 to plant them .. and have already made my cash back and im now in profit
    we have a local charity nursery that has special needs adult learners working there and they only charge a £1 a tray of veg plants
    so while i get cut price veg plants from them .. i recycle all my old pots back to them to help them keep thier costs down too
    and i must say ..... it's damned fine veg and tastes like real veg .. not some alien mutant wrapped in plastic from other side of the planet via a supermarket warehouse
    u need
    1 spade
    1 garden fork
    plenty of muscle rub
    and get stuck in, when the veg gets to your plate you will know it was worth all the hard work, and you dont need a massive garden .. plant broccolli in with your flowers in the borders , ive got runner beans on my rose arch..lol..
    and same can be done with peas and broadbeans .. you can even grow them in hanging baskets if you live in a flat .. but water them well , dont let them dry out , tomatoes and pepers .. chillis courgettes cucumber .. can all be grown on a sunny windowsill and if you dont have enough sill .. plonk an old garden table or cover a indoor table with plastic cloth infront of a sunny window .. and get growing
    and gordon brown can keep his mutant veg with exorbitant prices
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