Easy veg to grow outdoors: part one

Posted on July 4, 2017 by Helen Field

Lady picking carrots

Growing your own veg

It's a broad subject and overwhelming if you've never tried it before. But start small and you could find yourself with a new hobby or even passion. So where do you start? Which type should you begin with and how do you make sure you grow vegetables successfully enough to fill your family's plates? 

This blog is your guide to starting your own vegetable patch outdoors easily, quickly, and successfully. Dig in and discover some easy vegetables to grow outdoors for a healthy, rewarding addition to your mealtimes. It's easier than you might think.

Crisp carrots

Carrot seeds are very small and it's easy to plant too many in one place!  If you do, you can very carefully pull seedlings out and transfer them so they have more room. Try to sow them three to four inches apart, with at least a foot between rows. Carrot plants like a lot of sun when they're growing so find a good, sunny spot. They can take around two and a half months to mature, although you can harvest them when they're smaller. You can leave mature carrots in the ground over winter for storage until early spring, as long as the ground doesn't freeze. This is known as overwintering. Pull them up before they begin to flower as this renders them inedible.

Tip: Stony or clay-like soil isn't much good for growing carrots - they need to be able to easily grow downwards without anything getting in their way. Light, sandy soil is ideal.

Tasty uses for carrots

Peel and slice them into sticks to dip in homous. Roast chunks in the oven to go with fish or a Sunday roast. Throw into a stir-fry for extra crunch. Combine in a stew to create delicious, soft hunks of carrot which absorb all the gravy flavours.

Sumptuous Swiss chard

Another easy to grow veg which just keeps coming back, even the following year. Chard can withstand cold weather which is always good to know, as our seasons can be a bit temperamental!  Sow some seeds in mid-July for the best chance of a winter crop and just keep cutting the chard to keep fresh leaves growing back. You can also cover it during 'hibernation' over winter so that you'll get a fresh crop for a while the following spring. It adds some colour to your garden if you pick plants with red or yellow stems and it grows fluffy, sumptuous emerald leaves. 

Tasty ways to use Swiss chard

You can treat it like spinach and steam it, stir it into pasta or curry, or use it in salad. It's versatile as well as being rich with vitamins and minerals - vitamins K, C, A and E, iron, magnesium and potassium. 

Swanky spring onions

Spring onions are a great, easy to grow veg suitable for small containers. They'll even grow happily between other plants if you only have a tiny space to squeeze them into. Spring onions grow fast so you'll be able to see some greenery in a matter of weeks. They don't just come in green and white - you can grow a red variety too.

Tasty ways to use spring onions

Try frying them with garlic for a mouth-watering topping on sausages and mash. Or how about a quick spring onion and sweet potato salad, or asparagus and spring onion tart? Great as a garnish too.

Plentiful peas

Peas are a great space-saving plant to grow in a small container or grow-bag on your patio. You can grow them against chicken wire, netting or sticks to help them climb. There are a couple of different types of peas you can have a go at growing. Shelling peas, which you take out of the pod, and edible-podded peas like mangetout and sugar snap peas, which you eat whole, pod and all.

Home grown peas can taste good enough to eat straight off the plant and the delicate white flowers make it a pretty plant to adorn your garden with. They like a sunny patch although they don't mind cooler weather.

Tip 1: Sow seeds from March to June. You can start harvesting your peas between 11 and 15 weeks after sowing, depending on the variety. Constantly pick the peas to keep them coming back all summer long.
Tip 2: Try growing a compact bushy plant like Pea Bingo.

Tasty ways to use peas

Try boiling them for the last few minutes with your rice. It makes the rice go further, while giving you one of your five-a-day. You could even blitz them up in a food processor with boiled potatoes to make a fun, green mash.

Fill-up on more veg

Want more ideas for growing outdoor veg? Keep a look out for part 2  where we'll be looking at some other easy to grow vegetables. Growing veg can be a fun and rewarding thing to do, with the bonus of saving money on groceries! Just keep picking your peas and chard, to keep them coming back again and again.

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