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Growing for Grown-Ups. Allow the kids to grow too!

Growing for beginners Fancy trying a bit of growing for the kitchen this year? Here's an easy guide to help you get started. Grow vegetables and fruit - it isn't difficult. Experiment with what fits in with your lifestyle and you'll be guaranteed to have a lot of fun 'having a go'.

Start chitting your potatoes now and you'll soon be ready to plant.   This is the perfect time to get organised. Top tip: if you can possibly organise a raised bed or two, your task will be so much easier. It means you can import any type of soil and you have an instant retaining system. You can work in some of your own soil too, for excellent all-round combination compost.

Growing vegetables in a raised bed is easy! You can do it almost anywhere.

What to grow? The main focus for your first attempt should be based on simplicity. Firstly, think about the amount of space you will dedicate to your vegetables. This will provide a limit for your activities. You can consider dwarf selections and bush forms in order to save space.

Secondly, prepare your soil. Make sure it is nutrient-rich so add compost (well-rotted) if it's poor.

Consider growing tomatoes and potatoes in containers if space is limited. Should you grow from seed or buy plants? If you want to keep it really simple, buy small plants that have already sprouted. Then you are already half way there! Here's six of the easiest vegetables to grow: Courgettes: You only need one or two plants to feed one person. Courgettes are heavy croppers. All they need is space. Don't be tempted to plant your young courgettes until all danger of frost has passed. Late May/June is good, and allow about 90cm between each plant (yes, really!). Just pop them in the ground; water regularly and wait! Your courgettes should be ready for harvesting in late July/August and beyond.

Courgettes are great to grow and delicious to eat. They make brilliant vegetables for the first-time grower. Onions: Buy onion sets which are tiny onions now. Make a v-shaped trench in the compost and pop one onions in the trench, spaced about 12cm apart.  Cover with soil right up to their necks. Water and watch them grow! They will be ready for harvesting when the leaves turn brown around August time.  Then just lift and allow the onions to dry before storing.

Onions are easy to grow. Buy sets for the simplest option. Salad leaves: You can grow these indoors or out during the warmer months. Just fill a seed tray with rich compost, sprinkle a teaspoon of salad seeds over the compost and cover with a very fine layer of compost. Water using a fine mist or spray and don't allow the compost to dry out. Your salad leaves will begin to appear very quickly. When the leaves reach about 6cm tall or so, cut them and eat! The shoots should still keep growing.

Salad leaves grow quickly and you can grow these indoors on a windowsill. Mint: Buy a young plant there are many varieties of mint including chocolate mint; spearmint and even banana mint! Just pop it in the ground when danger of frost has passed and keep cutting the leaves for the kitchen. A word of warning: some mint is rather invasive so you might want to contain its roots. Other than that, it's fool proof!

Mint is delicious in salads, with vegetables and in drinks. It's easy to grow. Just contain its roots as some is invasive. Potatoes: There are earlies, second earlies and main crop. Don't worry too much about the descriptions, when you come to buy your seed potatoes you will see what's in season. You will need to 'chit' them first. Just allow them to sprout, then allow one or two sprouts to remain. Pop them into a trench and cover with soil. As the potatoes grow you will need to 'earth up' the mounds so they aren't exposed to the light. The foliage will grow strongly and it is this that tells you when your crop is ready to be harvested. When the leaves are wilted, dig up your garden treasure and enjoy the flavour!

Underground treasure! You can grow potatoes really easily and they are great to harvest with the children! Runner Beans: They take a little more effort in terms of preparation, but they are well worth the time. You'll need to erect some sort of system up which your climbing beans can twine. You can plant young seedlings, but you might need to keep the slugs at bay as they establish. Then, watch them go! Allow them to twine until they reach a height at which you will be comfortable during the harvest, then simply pinch out the tops. Water regularly and watch for your flowers it is these that precede the beautiful beans!

Runner beans need a wigwam or other climbing support network. Otherwise, they are easy! And delicious to eat.

By Perfect Plants


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