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

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  • This year my partner and I acquired an allotment, which has been incredibly hard work to prepare, but we are now enjoying the fruits of our harvest.

    Potatoes - I would say potatoes are one of the easier things to grow and if you havent got space, you can grow them in bags, large pots etc at home. We did this before we had an allotment and they are very easy to grow. You have to watch out for potato blight but you can get powder to control it called 'Bordeaux Mixture'.

    Tomatoes - easy to grow at home in grow bags. Just look on websites to know how break off the right branches to get the goodness into the growing tomatoes and increase light to them.

    Onions/Leeks - another easy veg to grow. You can buy onion sets, which look like tiny onions and they grow really well. We now have a ready supply of red onions. The leeks have to be grown initially in a warm place i.e. greenhouse or conservatory or windowsill. Then planted out when they are a good size and when the weather is warmer.

    Beetroot - Have planted, and look as if they are doing well but havent dug any up at mo. Just plant from seed.

    Carrots - Plant seeds into soil. Watch out for carrot fly. Plant marigolds to keep pests off.

    Good luck to the beginners. Dont be afraid to have a go, what have you got to lose. The rewards are fresh, organic veg and there's nothing like pulling up a few veg and 20mins later you're enjoying them on your plate. Have fun!
  • I subscribe to the Freecycle site and have been able to get some old plastic guttering and compost from the site, so now growing all my salad leaves, radishes, etc in them. Plus packs of seeds are cheap considering the amount of plants you can get from them. Sow every few weeks for succession of food. My back yard is full of beans, tomatoes (just need the sun to ripen them), beans, etc, all growing in a variety of pots amongst the flowers. Be careful when thinning out the seedlings; replant them and watch them grow instead of throwing them away. I was so proud of my first picking of spring onions and radish!!! My next job is to grow potatoes in an old compost bag;
    perhaps new potatoes for Christmas?
    :D :hello:
  • pjomara
    pjomara Posts: 72 Forumite
    Complete novice here. Wondering if any creeper style veg/fruit would suit a spot up against the south wall of the garden? I want it to eventually cover the bottom part of the wall (2 - 3 feet high). Slightly damper than the rest of the garden as well.
  • I have been growing veg since 1970. I retired last year and increased the veg space in my garden by two thirds.

    It is best to weed thoroughly when seedlings in open ground are in their earliest stages. Whilst not overcrowding, the closer the rows of plants are set, the less chance for weeds to take hold. Weeding then becomes light and the soil can be moved around with a gentle hoe. (weeds hate that).

    Sowing in trays and pots under glass or plastic and then planting out,- French and Runner beans, courgettes, leeks and tomatoes etc,- pays off. Do not neglect watering regularly in dry spells (ahem).

    Natural fertilizers really pay off, but the lawn turf I removed to increase my patch, I stacked upside down along a border and boarded off with planks as a raised bed. I planted courgette, sweetcorn and tomato plants in this patch and they are thriving. (Cropping courgettes for two weeks and plenty more coming).

    My runner beans are thriving and they were seed that I saved from my crops last year. I let them dry out thoroughly on the plants before removing them in November. I plant three to a pot to ensure one good germination.

    Weeding, feeding (organic), watering and plants (as above) are my advice for substantial worthwhile crops.

    My Question:- I have always grown onions successfully until last year. They ran to seed, despite being good sets. The same happened this year although I have picked the flower heads off immediately they appeared to ensure a reasonable crop. I think that the manure was too fresh and the possible cause. Does anyone know?
  • jaquivander
    jaquivander Posts: 35 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Just thought I'd mention Mare... had a bit of a problem with using the toilet roll inners , they act just like expensive root trainers which is great, however, I have had quite a few sprout fungi, actually quite attractive toadstools. Seemingly, according to hubby they have the spores as they are mostly untreated paper waste. Just to keep an eye out for the little blighters, especially if it's a food crop.
    I must say though, pea seedlings love the tubed root system from the loo rolls
  • Kantankrus_Mare
    Kantankrus_Mare Posts: 6,104 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Yes I had "mushrooms" growing on the sweet peas I started off in greenhouse lasy year but cant say it has affected the flowers. They are the best Ive done so far :D

    Cant remember where I read it but you can put toilet rolls in microwave for a minute and it prevents fungus growing.
    Make £10 a Day Feb .....£75.... March... £65......April...£90.....May £20.....June £35.......July £60
  • troubrs
    troubrs Posts: 110 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker Mortgage-free Glee!
    I've had an allotment for 7 years & am now on the waiting list for another. I work & have 2 children but can honestly say that once you've got going it's about 2 hours every other weekend & pop down for picking/watering in the light evenings as necessary.

    I cover up unused land with black covers which stops weeds growing & then lightly dig it over.

    My allotment rent is £10 per annum & my strawberries & raspberries alone more than pay several times over for this (they cost nothing now they're established as 1/4 of them are replaced every year with the runners they put out. I buy almost all of my seeds at the end of teh season when Wyvale halve their prices (yet most seeds still have at least a years' date left on them).

    I grow very early new potatoes (plant Jan, harvest April) in old acid drums at home - move them inside if frost threatened. I do everything I should NOT do & grow them in spent compost from my tomatoes the year before (tomatoes & potatoes are vulnerable to the same diseases as they're related). I also grow tomatoes & runner beans in the garden at home, my allotment is just too exposed.

    I plant lettuce far too close together then thin them out & use the thinnings as baby leaves, & transplant some to come on later. Spring onions are always successful, Leeks are great - so versatile & you can grow them in soil cleared from potatoes, plus you just harvest them as you need them.

    I could go on & on but nothing beats the satisfaction of coming home loaded with fresh home grown fruit & veg. Last night we had carrots, onions, beetroot, runner beans & new potatoes for tea with out meat, all home grown & picked less than an hour beforehand!
  • Please be aware that many farmers use the above herbicide to kill weeds on pastureland, used for grazing horses, cattle etc. It has been found that the manure from horses using such pastures is contaminated with the chemical and kills many valuable crops. Your veg growing area cannot be used for at least 18 months. Many allotment holders have inadvertently used the manure and had disastrous results.

    It is made by Dow AgriSciences and has various trade names.

    see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

    and we try to be organic!!

    These cowboys again!
    Welcome to the butchers of Bhopal.

    http://www.bhopal.net/icjbworld/archives/2006/10/cambridge_counc.html

    If this muck goes right through a horse and is still toxic, what is there to stop it getting into the water supply so we can all drink it.
    No wonder the farmers cannot get rid of their stable manure any more - its toxic waste.

    Call me over sensitive, but I can remember when there was a leak in a factory a hundred miles away and everyone's tomatoes in Essex were killed or made very sick by drinking the tap water !
  • I rent my Allotment from the local Council and was lucky that last year they had a small waiting list and I managed to get one within a couple of months. If there is a waiting list then don't be disappointed - register and even if it takes a year or longer to get one you will still have one and be able to keep it for life. Make sure your Allotment has a water supply - not all do.

    I chose to spend the first year testing out various easy-crops including Salad crops like Rocket, Lettuce, Baby Spinach, Land Cress, Radish. With all of these you just need to drop the seeds into the ground. This lets you see what you get out of a packet and how much the slugs enjoy them! Cost wise this virtually eliminated my need to buy any packeted salad from the Supermarket - and don't forget your not saving on a packet of 49p basics salad, you are saving £1.99 on the Organic version as it is not srayed with chemicals, washed in chlorinated water. And no airmiles!

    I would also encourage people to put in some crops that you don't need to replant every year, e.g. Raspberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Current Bushes, Blackberry. I managed to get Aronia Berry, Blackcurrent and Redcurrent Bushes for £1.00 from Wilkinsons in April this year - they have fruit on them now. You can easily put fruit bushes in your garden borders!

    Don't spend lots of money on spades and rakes etc - ask friends and family if they have an old one you can have.

    Try to aim to replace the need for buying at least one thing from the Supermarket - a row of Lettuce has cost me £1.00 in seed - I have about 40 (yes I grew way too much but honestly thought the slugs might get more of them!). OK you won't eat 40 as they may have gone to seed by then but next time I will spread my sowing out. Since each lettuce will cost you 50p+ in the shop then you do the maths. Yes, it saves. My Allotment rent is £15.00 per year or 29p per week. Although I'm not in London where it can be £80.00 I believe).

    Time wise, the first year is challenging and will need a few weekends to clear the weeds and dig over the allotment but after that simple weeding perhaps for 1/2 hour per week has certainly seen me though. Any more hours you spend down there will be sowing seed/watering and general leisure time with family and kids or on your own pottering. Don't make it a chore - it's not the gym (but can be!). It has to become part of your lifestyle so you must be in tune and want to stick with it - have a go but if it's not what you expected then let someone else have a go. Why not ask to rent 1/2 a plot?

    Hassle? Definately not.
  • nodwah
    nodwah Posts: 1,742 Forumite
    Has anyone said about saving seed?

    I know it's on other threads, but it's worth mentioning that you can save seeds from stuff like peppers and squashes that you buy in the supermarket and sow them for growing.

    I also allow some plants to run to seed eg, rocket and pak choi so that I can save the seed.

    You can do this with flowers too!
    Just call me Nodwah the thread killer
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