Growing your own salads, vegetables and fruit is easy and it’s fun. There’s been a massive increase in the numbers setting aside a section of their garden to grow vegetables. It’s also a great way to get children to eat what they grow, interested in enjoying fresh produce and to develop green fingers for life.
GIY is back with a vengeance this year, especially among those who want to grow handy, tasty vegetables, salads and herbs for cooking. It’s really easy to do and you don’t need loads of space.
Recent Bord Bia research shows that 87% of gardening enthusiasts now sow and plant herbs. A vegetable patch or area is the most popular planned feature to have in a garden in the next 3 years (19%). This is higher amongst 25-34 year olds (25%). 70% of those surveyed say that growing fruit/vegetables that they could eat would encourage them to garden more. It’s no surprise that among the most popular vegetables people want to grow are the Irish favourites – onions, carrots and potatoes!
Tips for growing your own
At this time of year, we get loads of people coming into CountryLife looking for advice about growing their own. My starting point always is – well, what do you like to eat? There’s no point growing things for show and leaving them rot into the ground because they’re not used.
I encourage beginners to start off small. Prepare a raised bed or vegepod in an accessible part of the garden or start your new adventure in a bedding tray on a patio. You can even buy bedding trays complete with everything you need to grow your own cauliflower, sprouts, carrots, parsnips, beetroot and so much more.
If you have space and budget, I’d recommend investing in a little glasshouse or tunnel. They’re fantastic, they provide shelter, warmth and cover. They’re also brilliant for starting off seedlings that can be hardened off for growing out of doors.
Other fantastic starter crops you can grow from seed include lettuce, scallions, tumbling tom tomatoes and potatoes. Children in particular love to grow their own potatoes in buckets. They don’t take long to grow and depending on the variety, they’ll be munching on their own spuds in jig time.
Protecting your vegetables against pests
If you’re planting a salad garden, keep a close eye out for slugs. They can do mega damage in jig time. I like to squash up egg shells and place them around my own salad patch. Slugs don’t like crawling over them so it keeps them at bay.
Alternatively, you can use a huge variety of organic repellents. Neudorff Organic Sluggo Slug & Snail Killer contains a naturally occurring active ingredient, iron phosphate. This stops slugs from eating your plants and they return to their burrows where they die. It also stops slugs from leaving a trail. The iron phosphate is suitable for use around children and pets. This product is certified for organic farming.
Another product that we like to use to prevent slugs and snails from eating our plants is Slug Gone. It is also certified for organic farming. The pellets are made from sheep’s wool and are an irritant to slugs, and they also release nutrients into the soil.
If whitefly or greenfly are an issue, protect our pollinators by not spraying. You can use your hands to dust or pick them off and move them elsewhere in the garden. If you’ve got caterpillars in your garden, you can also move them on in a similar fashion. Lots of people grow garlic around the edges of their patch to keep the bugs out. Marigolds are also great for keeping green and white fly away from tomatoes, lettuce and more. Alternatively, we use Unipro Root Fly Control. This liquid insecticide targets and controls the eggs of cabbage root fly and carrot fly. The garlic juice is 99.9 per cent pure and fully biodegradable.
Growing your own strawberries
As our summers get that bit warmer, lots of families are also choosing to grow strawberries. They provide fabulous fruit just as the summer holidays begin. If you hang onto the runners you can also replant these to replace older stock.
Birds love the lush red fruit so keep an eye on your patch. Drape a plant protection net over delicate plants, trees and vegetables.
And if it’s damp, perhaps put a little straw underneath the plant to keep them aerated and keep the fruit from going bad.
Growing an instant salad
Growing instant salads are a great way of getting children munching on their greens. You can either pick what seed varieties you want to grow or choose from starter packs which have everything you’ll need to grow your own. They provide an instant meal when visitors call unexpectedly and your fridge is empty.
The beauty of growing such a mix is that it comes up quickly and keeps children engrossed, entertained and interested in GIY.
We’re here to help
If you have any questions about growing your own salad & vegetables talk to any of our horticulturists in store. If you have a specific problem like pest damage on a plant, it’s really helpful to bring us a photo of it. We’d love to help.
Vegepod Raised Garden Bed
Super effective garden to get growing your own food! Suitable for all spaces and large enough to grow any vegetable you like. It is the perfect solution for anyone interested in growing their own chemical-free, nutritional fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Neudorff Sluggo Ultra 650g
Sluggo Slug & Snail Killer Ultra is an powerful and biodegradable pelleted slug and snail killer certified for organic use. It is effective against all varieties of slugs and snails on all edible and ornamental plants and there is no waiting time until harvest, the active ingredient is converted into the plant nutrients iron and phosphate. The pellets are extremely resistant to rain due to innovative bait technology.
Plant Protection Net 8m x 4m
This plant protection net will protect plants, fruit and vegetables from animal, insect and pest damage. It’s fine mesh grid size of 10mm x 10mm will prevent even the smallest pests from damaging your plants. The black mesh blends in with the plants it is protecting.