The Starting Point – Top 10 Beginner Veg

Want to grow you own but don’t know where to start? Or just simply baffled by the varieties out there?

Then stress not.

Below you will find my top 10 things for any new comer to try.

I have grown and still grow these. Every year they consistently give me a superb yield whilst also being quite forgiving. They are also perfect for beginners as they practically look after themselves only needing a little input.

This is just a rough guide based on my experiences and methods vary from person to person. There is no rule. If you find a way that suites you go with it. The only elements that stay the same is watering, protection & enjoying the experience.

French Beans (Ferrari)

Skill: Easy

One of the best varieties I use and perfect for small spaces. Can even be grown in pots. Produce perfect string-less beans which can be eaten raw.

Method: Sow in Modules indoors around end of March. Plant outdoors when first set of true leaves are visible. Average time sow to pant out is 4 weeks. Soil should stay intact when lifting plant out of module and roots visible.

Top Tip: When plants start to flower at around 8 weeks after sowing, give plants a comfrey liquid feed at a ratio of 1 parts comfrey to 9 parts water.

 

Calabrese F1 (Brocolli)

Skill: Easy

The most reliable variety I have grown and one of the easiest. Calabrese is often mistaken for broccoli, yes it is the same as the supermarket style but I couldn’t be more different. The difference is not the taste but the appearance. Traditional broccoli grows in spears. This grows a large head which is easier harvested and quick to grow.

Method: Sow in Modules indoors around end of March. Plant outdoors when first set of true leaves are visible. Average time sow to pant out is 4 weeks. Soil should stay intact when lifting plant out of module and roots visible. Ensure you firm them in when planting as they like a good footing.

Top Tip: When plants start to produce the main head at around 10 weeks after sowing, give plants a comfrey liquid feed at a ratio of 1 parts comfrey to 9 parts water.

 

Sprouts (Crispus)

Skill: Easy

Another reliable variety. Sprouts are very easy to grow if you follow a few steps. Pigeons love them along with slugs so giving them the right protection is key. Ensure they are netted up at all times to ensure the best harvest. Spouts traditionally stay in the ground for a long period of time and usually up to 6 months. They are at their sweetest after a frost.

Method: Sow in Modules indoors around end of April. Plant outdoors when first set of true leaves are visible. Average time sow to pant out is 4 weeks. Soil should stay intact when lifting plant out of module and roots visible. Ensure you firm them in when planting as they like a good footing.

Top Tip: If you find you get a crop around autumn before frost, simply harvest and freeze for 48 hours before use. This will sweeten them up ensuring you can have a harvest at any point of the year! Sprouts are not just for Christmas 😉

 

Peas (Kelvedon Wonder)

Skill: Easy

Peas are very easy to grow. They can vary in size from only 2ft right up to over 7ft depending on variety. There are two types of seed. Autumn and Spring planted. You can usually tell by the pea seeds. If they are wrinkly then they are spring, Smooth is for autumn. The only pointer here is support. Bamboo canes are perfect. If you can afford it chicken wire.

Method: Sow direct outdoors around end of March for spring and October for overwintering varieties or autumn. Cover with chicken wire to protect from mice & birds until shoots are around 3 inches.

Top Tip: Pick the pods as you go. The more you pick the more it will produce.

 

Carrots (Nantes)

Skill: Easy

Scatter and leave! Done. Honestly that’s it although small; they take a while to germinate but eventually they grow. They germinate best when soil temps stay around 20c. The main problem is crusting. This is when the soil forms a hard layer on the surface of the soil. The easiest way to deal with this is applying a small layer of compost over the seeds and keep damp.

Method: Sow direct outdoors between March and July. Sow every few weeks to have a good supply.

Top Tip: Mix a small amount with sand so they get sown at a more even rate. Benefit is you also get to see where you planted them!

 

Onions (Red Barron)

Skill: Easy

I always use onion sets. These can be picked up very cheap and resemble a small bulb. Just ensure that the bulbs are firm. If you can squash them, chuck them.

Method: Grow in modules. Simply push fat end down half way into the soil and water. Keep warm and in a week you will start to see them growing. Plant out when the roots are well formed. The soil should lift out in full when you inspect them.

Top Tip: Keep the soil weeded and evenly watered. A good starting point is to give a generous amount once per week. This will allow the roots to go deeper ensuring they are more resilient to drought.

 

Parsnip (Goliath)

Skill: Easy

Exactly the same process as carrots. Scatter and leave! Done. Honestly that’s it although small; they take a while to germinate but eventually they grow. They germinate best when soil temps stay around 20c. The main problem is crusting. This is when the soil forms a hard layer on the surface of the soil. The easiest way to deal with this is applying a small layer of compost over the seeds and keep damp.

Method: Sow direct outdoors between March and July. Sow every few weeks to have a good supply.

Top Tip: Mix a small amount with sand so they get sown at a more even rate. Benefit is you also get to see where you planted them!

 

Beetroot (Boltardy)

Skill: Easy

Beetroot is one of the best root vegetables you can have. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing beetroot grow. Always reliable, perfect for the beginner.

Method: Sow direct outdoors between March and July. Sow every few weeks to have a good supply.

Top Tip: Keep the soil weeded and evenly watered. A good starting point is to give a generous amount once per week. This will allow the roots to go deeper ensuring they are more resilient to drought.

 

Climbing French Beans (Cobra)

Skill: Easy

French beans are very easy to grow. They can easily grow to over 7ft. Supports are essential here. Bamboo canes are perfect. Just ensure you give them enough space as they like to tangle up and jump canes!

Method: Sow in Modules indoors around end of April. Plant outdoors when first set of true leaves are visible. Average time sow to pant out is 4 weeks. Soil should stay intact when lifting plant out of module and roots visible.

Top Tip: Pick the pods as you go. The more you pick the more it will produce.

 

Sweetcorn (Minipop)

Skill: Easy

Part of the grass family; Sweetcorn is very reliable. Their biggest enemy is slugs. They easily grow to 7ft and produce various cobs. There are two varieties, open pollinated and self-fertile. For beginners I say to use self-fertile as you get the growing experience with the increased chance of a crop. ‘Minibel’ will produce mini corn that can be used for stir fry and salads.

Method: Sow in Modules indoors around end of April. Plant outdoors when around 6-8 inches high and all risk of frost has passed. Average time sow to pant out is 4 weeks. Soil should stay intact when lifting plant out of module and roots visible.

Top Tip: Pick when tufts (Stringy part) are brown to black in colour. Enjoy.

 

So there you have it.

 

Of course there are thousands of varieties each of which you may find better for you. But that’s the point.

 

One thing I encourage is experimenting.

 

You have the power to choose what you want to eat and get the satisfaction of watching it grow and mature.

 

The saying really is true. If you grow your own food, it tastes different. It tastes better and this is a guarantee.

 

Just remember you cannot fail.

 

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

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