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Started by AdonisBlue on Mar 20, 2020 7:01:42 PM
My Corona Garden

I'm not much good at growing food but it's looking like having an extra supply over the next 12 months might be handy. Previously about the only thing I've managed to grow well is radish but I doubt that's a balanced diet.

So any tips on easiest, most productive veg to grow for an amateur in a standard small suburban garden? Quite a heavy clay soil, east facing so not the best but gets a reasonable amount of sun. Garden currently all lawn or for flowers, except some raspberries and blackcurrants.

Yersinia - 21 Mar 2020 00:00:44 (#1 of 1751)

From your name, you like butterflies!

I grow quite a lot of salady brassicas like rocket, and also nasturtiums in containers. I eat a lot of young leaves, sow sequentially, and when they begin to bolt, I leave them to the large and small whites. The flowers are also good for bees. I grow salad leaves from other families, too, of course. Sorrel, beet family, etc.

Otherwise, I do well with courgettes and many sorts of legumes, which often also have pretty insect-attracting flowers, and taste far better from the garden. Many herbs are also dual-function for me in terms of taste and insect-attraction.

Corona has also changed my outlook. I had thought I couldn't be arsed with many veg this year, but the potential for disruption of the supply chain has made me think again.

WibbleAgain - 21 Mar 2020 00:51:33 (#2 of 1751)

This Coronavirus will certainly change everyone's life and growing your own veg will be a long term reward. You will love it long after this epidemic is over. You will wonder why you hadn't started years before, because home grown veges taste fantastic and nothing like supermarket bought things. Welcome to growing your own. From your header, I am assuming you relatively new to growing veges, and hope this advice isn't too patronising. Apologies if it is, but please forgive my zeal!

Firstly, if you have heavy soil and mainly lawn, but want to grow vegetables, you need to first improve your soil, and/or alternatively build some raised beds and fill them with compost and topsoil, or buy some very large pots. Because vegetables are by and large very greedy bastards in terms of soil nutrients. The good news is a heavy soil is nutrient rich and better to grow veges in once it's been lightened up with compost, aka well rotted organic matter.

First thing you should do is to start a compost heap with your kitchen peelings, coffee grinds, tea leaves, shredded paper, torn up cardboard, etc. but no cooked stuff to avoid pests. It is a very worthwhile skill so do make the effort to learn all about it: where to site the compost heaps/bins, beneficial soil micro organisms/worms, as well as pest/slug considerations, etc. Google and read books and watch videos, etc. The compost will be free goodness for your soil and essential for your veg growing.

Secondly, as you won't have time to wait for your home made compost to enrich your soil, you can use bought compost for the first season. Traditionally, you're supposed to dig up the turf, and then dig a trench 1ft deep, add compost or rotted manure, and mix the soil when refilling the trench. Even more traditionally, you're supposed to double-dig, but I shan't bother with that, because there's been quire successful trials of the "no dig" veg growing method. Some even advocate piling the compost on top of the turf and away you go. I haven't tried, and would recommend stripping the turf and turning it over, before piling the compost on top in order to avoid grass growing through your vegetables.

If you like books:

whatever you do, you'll be learning as you go along, but it doesn't hurt to try and get a grasp of the basics as you start. Everyone makes mistakes along the way, but initially consulting the experts in books and online will mean you'll make fewer than necessary.

I hope you don't find this too daunting. Courgettes are the easiest thing to grow provided they get a minimum of 6 hours direct sun. One plant will provide enough for two people if not four. So, if you don't have time to do all the stuff above but want to start asap, buy a great big bag of compost (Wickes is doing a discount this weeekend) dig a hole about 1 metre square, to at least 1ft deep, in your lawn, fill it with compost half way, turn the cut out turf upside down, and top up with soil and more compost plus a trowlful of organic chicken manure pellets (they come in boxes or buckets). You won't be able to plant courgette until what is known in gardening parlance as "all dangers of frost is past", which would generally be well after Easter. This will give plenty of time for the turf, compost and chicken manure to all rot away to make a rich bed for your 1 courgette plant.

A similar sized hole will be enough space to grow up to 6 runner bean plants, in a circle, up a 6ft wigwam made of bamboo sticks 7ft long. You will need to bury the sticks one ft deep because the beans will become heavily ladden and potentially top heavy.

These are the two easiest and heaviest croppers you can grow, and are perfect for beginners.

Happy corona veggy growing!

Tenesmus - 21 Mar 2020 00:52:41 (#3 of 1751)

Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum

My corona!

RosyLovelady - 21 Mar 2020 09:10:59 (#4 of 1751)

Broad beans are very easy to grow. If you can find the kind with red flowers, you'll get even better beans, by the way.

goldfinch - 21 Mar 2020 09:16:15 (#5 of 1751)

Swiss chard is a doddle to grow and keeps going for a long time. Rocket but try and get one that is slow to bolt. Spinach, you can either pick the leaves when they are very small or let them go. Lots of varieties out there, just read the blurb. Carrots are easy to grow in a tub.

bossab2 - 21 Mar 2020 09:16:46 (#6 of 1751)


Its one of the few salady plants that slugs dont decimate.

Spuds are easy to grow.

Snarlygog - 21 Mar 2020 09:27:15 (#7 of 1751)

You can grow spuds in tyre stack. Makes harvesting easy.

helbel - 21 Mar 2020 09:27:46 (#8 of 1751)

Grow things you like to eat.

Things I’ve had success with with minimal effort: radishes, beetroot, peppers (if it’s a hot summer), strawberries (buy plants when they’re at the garden centre).

Also one courgette plant will feed a family of four.

bossab2 - 21 Mar 2020 09:29:43 (#9 of 1751)

Only bother with tomatoes if grown under glass.

Otherwise a virus destroys them towards the end of August.

bossab2 - 21 Mar 2020 09:30:28 (#10 of 1751)

Runner beans seem quite successful.

RosyLovelady - 21 Mar 2020 09:30:47 (#11 of 1751)

Finding and collecting abandoned tyres to create a potato stack is a bit of a chore.

goldfinch - 21 Mar 2020 09:35:15 (#12 of 1751)

No so about tomatoes. My sister and I grow them every year and they often go on into November.

RosyLovelady - 21 Mar 2020 09:37:01 (#13 of 1751)

Some years there's a slight blight, but tomatoes are mostly easy to grow and an olfactory pleasure to look after.

Yersinia - 21 Mar 2020 09:39:41 (#14 of 1751)

I don't do well with tomatoes. My garden is very cool and shady, so that probably doesn't help.

Runner beans, yes, and pick them young, much smaller than shop ones so they don't go tough, but there are many other type of climbing and bush beans and peas. I rather like ones with purple and yellow pods, because they are pretty, and easy to see and harvest.

bossab2 - 21 Mar 2020 09:41:08 (#15 of 1751)

My tomatoes always got decimated by virus as soon as it got cooler and damper.

No problems when grown in a greenhouse.

RosyLovelady - 21 Mar 2020 09:41:42 (#16 of 1751)

If only it were easier to grow cauliflower.

browserbutton - 21 Mar 2020 09:42:52 (#17 of 1751)

In times of need, courgettes can be left to grow into GIANT ZEPPELINS.

Yersinia - 21 Mar 2020 09:43:54 (#18 of 1751)

Don't overcrowd the garden in an excess of zeal, as I did last year. Things grow better with some space.

But try to grow a variety of things, so that you have crops coming to maturity at different times.

Yersinia - 21 Mar 2020 09:44:37 (#19 of 1751)

Giant Zeppelin courgettes keep very well through winter. I am halfway through my last one from last year.

nemo75 - 21 Mar 2020 09:45:12 (#20 of 1751)

I’m limited to balcony growing but I think I should make a proper effort this year.

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