The Handbook
The Handbook

With an impending Boris announcement and things on the cusp of returning to a little normality (whatever that might be), you may think you’ve missed the boat when it comes to growing your own.

But lockdown has forced us all to sit back, slow down and take stock. Even if the restrictions are soon to be relaxed, many of us can see the positives in taking things a little slower, the joys of reacquainting ourselves with our kitchens and eating a more varied, colourful and dare we say it, healthier diet?

It’s been reported that time spent gardening and doing DIY has risen by 147% in the UK – that’s an impressive 39 minutes a day – so if you’ve the space and the time, now’s the time to try and become a little more green fingered.

We’ve enlisted the help of gardening experts, Evergreen Garden Care, to talk us through the top 20 easiest and quickest fruit and veg to get you going.

What you’ll need:

  • Basic gardening equipment: trowels, gardening gloves, watering can.
  • Something to help them grow: Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Fruit & Veg Compost, Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Fruit & Veg Planter or Levington Tomorite Giant Planter with Seaweed.
  • Somewhere to plant your fruit and vegetables: pots of various sizes and/or raised beds and/or a vegetable patch.
  • And the seeds or seedlings.

Top tip: Not every fruit or vegetable requires all of the above equipment, so check instructions for chosen plants before you get started.

The Top 20 Fruit & Veg To Get You On Your Way

  1. Radishes

When to sow: fortnightly from March to June for a continuous crop.

Ready: Harvest from 3-4 weeks after sowing.

Great for: Adding a peppery hit to summer salads, dipped in hummus for a healthy snack or roasting in the oven as an alternative to roast potatoes.

2. Salad Leaves

Top tip: Trim the plants by cutting what is needed for the kitchen, then allow to grow before cutting again.

Ready: Harvest from 6-8 weeks after sowing.

Great for: Often referred to as ‘cut-and-come-again’ salad leaves, these will leave you with an endless basis to your working from home salads.

3. French beans

When to sow: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June.

Ready: Harvest 8-12 weeks from sowing.

Great for: The people pleaser of the veg word, french beans literally go with everything, from steaks to fish or trimmed and topped to salads.

4. Spinach

Where to sow: They grow best with lots of sunlight and should be kept well-watered at all times.

Ready: You should have big and strong spinach plants in just 8-12 weeks.

Great for: Add a handful of spinach to your morning smoothie for a hit of greens. As long as there’s some apple or pear in there too, you won’t notice the strong green taste.

5. Spring onions

Where to sow: Spring onions can be grown in pots or the ground and they’ll self-seed.

Ready: Ready in just 8 weeks.

Great for: Adding to salads or as bases to Asian-inspired stir-frys.

6. Carrots

Where to sow: Sow the seeds indoors in a pot or outdoors in the ground.

Ready: Ready in 12 weeks

Top tip: If you can’t wait the full 12 weeks when they are fully developed, you can eat the baby carrots when they look ready.

7. Tomatoes

When and where to sow: These can be grown in a growbag, pot or ground, as long as they have a sunny spot. These can be planted after the last frost which happened in April so now is good.

Ready: Your tomatoes will be ready to eat in 12 weeks.

Great for: Everything from pasta sauces to classic caprese salad.

8. Peas

When to sow: These can be sown anytime from March to June.

Ready: Can be harvested in 8-12 weeks.

Top tip: If you have little ones to home school, make this a fun science activity by creating the structures to hold up the stalks using canes, string or chicken wire and teaching them about where our food comes from.

9. Lettuce

Ready: Harvest from 8-14 weeks after sowing.

Great for: The freshest Caesar salads and sliced between homemade burgers.

Good to know: Small lettuces, such as Tom Thumb or Little Gem, take up less room and there is less wastage.

10. Bell Peppers

Where to sow: Start your bell peppers early by growing them indoors initially until after the last frost. They need sunlight, so make sure they go in a sunny spot.

Ready: Ready to harvest in 8-16 weeks.

Great for: Slicing and dipped in hummus or tzatziki or stuffed with rice, herbs and spices for an easy midweek meal.

11. Beetroot:

When to sow: Sow at intervals from mid-March.

Ready: Harvest from 11 weeks after sowing.

Great for: Adding to your Sunday roast veggies for a hit of colour or pickling to keep the goodness going for longer.

12. Courgettes and Marrows

When to sow: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June.

Ready:Harvest from 10-14 weeks from sowing.

Top tip: Compact, bushy varieties are better for small areas and containers.

13. Potatoes

When to sow: Plant seed potatoes from mid- to late March for first earlies, early to mid-April for second earlies.

Ready: Harvest in 12-14 weeks.

Top tip: Early varieties are the best and give that new potato taste.

14. Cucumbers

When to sow: Cucumbers are best planted outdoors from April into deep pots.

Ready: Ready in 12-16 weeks.

Great for: Adding to water for a healthy alternative to juice or smashed up with chilli and feta for a great BBQ side.

15. Broad beans

When to sow: Best sown in spring so you best be quick.

Ready: Harvest around 14 weeks from sowing.

Top tip: Dwarf varieties need less space and no staking.

16. Strawberries

When to plant: Strawberries really need to be planted in early spring so you have missed the boat this year. Bring on 2021.

Ready: Harvest in June and July, approximately 12-18 weeks from planting.

Top tip: Strawberries are can be grown in hanging baskets, containers or in the ground.

17. Raspberries

When to plant: Similar to strawberries, these need to be planted soon but the rewards will be reaped come summer. Best growing in raised beds but will also grow in containers.

Ready: Ready in 12-18 weeks but will regrow year on year.

Great for: Breakfasts, from berry smoothies to crunchy granola.

18. Runner beans

When to sow: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June.

Ready: Harvest 12-14 weeks from sowing.

Great for: Delicious in a salad with gooey burrata and salty parma ham.

19. Shallots

When to sow: You’ll have to wait until next year as  shallots are best planted in February or March.

Ready: Sets are quick to mature, producing a further 8 to 12 shallots each. Ready to harvest in 18 weeks.

20. Onions

When to plant: Early Spring.

Ready: They are best grown in the open ground and will be ready in 18-21 weeks.

Great for: A no-brainer really – how many recipes start with “chop an onion..”?

To find out more visit www.lovethegarden.com


Want to receive more great articles like this every day: sign up here