​A beginner’s guide to growing your own veg in the New Year

Courgettes are extremely prolific and for a family of four you won’t need more than one plantCourgettes are extremely prolific and for a family of four you won’t need more than one plant
Courgettes are extremely prolific and for a family of four you won’t need more than one plant
Resh believes that the secret to success lies in starting small.

Here’s her advice…

Choose your location carefully

“The most important thing is to start with selecting the right location, in your back garden or on your patio, deck or balcony, and make sure that you find the location that gives you the maximum amount of sunlight,” she says.

Then you can choose what to grow your veg in, whether it’s a regular bed, a raised bed or a pot.

Be cost effective

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When you’re a first-timer, you don’t want to go all out spending money on all the bells and whistles, so I highly recommend growing in containers when you start out,” she says.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, as long as you drill holes in the bottom of the container, you could grow veg in large buckets or other recycled containers.

“Growing bags are another option, or old breathable sacks (such as potato sacks). You might be able to get them at a farm shop.”

Think about soil

If you have tall raised beds or deep containers you don’t necessarily have to fill them up with compost.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I don’t recommend that you just go and dig up some soil from your garden because you might have very heavy soil that’s difficult to work or light soil which is lacking in nutrients,” she says.

“You want the soil that you use for growing veg to be high in nutrients and organic matter.”

For raised beds, the RHS recommends a general potting mixture of three parts organic matter (such as garden compost, leafmould or well-rotted manure), two parts sharp sand and seven parts topsoil.

Gala recommends five easy edibles for first-timers to grow.

Mint: The easiest edibles to grow are herbs, she says, and especially mint. “This is really hard to kill, but don’t plant it in the ground, plant it in a container as otherwise it will take over as it’s very invasive.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

People think mint is just for summer to put into wonderful refreshing drinks and to add as a garnish, but you can dry the leaves and then crush them, turn them into a powder and make delicious herbal teas.”

Lettuce: “Lettuce is extremely simple and cost effective. As a beginner you don’t want to feel overwhelmed about how deep you should plant and space the seeds,” she says.

“The advantage with lettuce is that you can randomly sprinkle the seeds on the soil, barely covering them and just make sure the soil stays moist, until you see the seeds start to germinate.”

You can easily grow lettuce in containers and they will also grow in lower temperatures in autumn and winter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Garlic: Garlic is among the easiest crops to grow. “You can just plant it and forget about it,” she says.

The only disadvantage is that it can take nine months to grow from seed to harvest, but if you plant cloves, each clove will turn into a head – a whole bulb – of garlic, she enthuses. Plant in late autumn and your garlic should be ready in summer.

Cherry tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes can be prolific – look for varieties like ‘Sungold’, Gala recommends. Grow the plant in a deep container, but you will need to plant them out in soil which is rich in organic matter.

If you’re growing them from seed, sow them indoors in spring. You can take a shortcut by buying tomato plants in nurseries and garden centres in late spring, but make sure you don’t plant them outside until all danger of frost has passed, so it may be the end of May or June, depending where you live.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I like to plant my tomatoes very deep in the ground, so when you dig your planting hole, make sure it’s quite large. Bury at least a third of your seedling (small plant) under the soil. Take off the lower leaves and bury it into the soil. The stems are a bit hairy – they can send out roots from those hairy bits. Burying it deep will help it create a strong root system.”

‘Determinate’ (bush) types require little or no staking, while ‘indeterminate’ (cordon) varieties grow tall (up to 1.8m) and will need staking with canes or other supports.

Bush types are shorter and wider, great for smaller gardens, pots and growing bags. They don’t need pinching out but stems may need a small stake at an early stage to prevent wind damage, she adds, and when they are laden with fruits.

Good bush varieties include ‘Red Alert’ and ‘Tumbling Tom’.

Courgette: “Courgettes are extremely prolific and for a family of four you won’t need more than one plant,” she says. As well as using the main vegetable you can fry the courgette flowers and stuff them with ricotta or other cheese.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Again, you’re best off sowing it inside and don’t plant it out until all danger of frost has passed. One courgette plant will grow happily in a large pot.

Vegetable Gardening Made Easy by Resh Gala is published by Cool Springs Press, priced £18.99. Available now.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.