Easy veg to grow outdoors: part two

Posted on July 31, 2017 by Helen Field

Plants being watered in the garden

In part 1 we had a look at how to grow your own carrots, Swiss chard, spring onions and peas. See if you can eat your way through the next lot of easy veg to grow outdoors!

Opulent onions

White onions, shallots or red onions are all easy to grow. You can plant baby onions known as 'sets' or even seeds but you might want to try growing onions from 'sets' first as they are more reliable. Make sure you keep them clear of weeds so they don't get taken over.

Your onions will be ready to pick when the plants start dying back and going yellow. You can store them with foliage intact for around three to six months, making sure you dry them out first for about two to three weeks or until the outer skin becomes crisp, otherwise they'll rot.

Tasty ways to use onions

Fry them in with your sausages and add the gravy near the end, for a comforting flavoursome meal to go with your super healthy green mash.

You can't go wrong by roasting veg - why not put sliced onion in one end of a baking tray of other veg and add a slosh of balsamic vinegar to them for a yummy, juicy, oniony accompaniment?

Beautiful beetroot

You don't have to plant beetroot seeds into the ground - you can grow them in pots too. They'll need watering every day until you start seeing leaves. From then on they'll only need watering every 10-14 days if it's dry weather, otherwise leave the rain to work its magic!

As your beetroot grows you'll begin to see the root emerge. We eat this bit - although you can eat the tender leaves too by mixing them into a salad. When the beetroot is about the size of a small orange, it will be at its tastiest and it's ready to pull out. Loosen the surrounding soil with a gardening fork and pull it out gently by its leaves.

Tip: Don't cut the leaves off, twist them off about 5cm from the beetroot. This helps it hold onto the flavour and colour as well as stopping you getting red hands!

Tasty ways to use beetroot

Borscht is a traditional Polish clear broth served with boiled potatoes or rye bread. If you fancy a thicker kind of beetroot soup you can whizz it up in a food processor after cooking.

You'll love the rich redness of these fudgy, chocolate beetroot brownies. What more tempting way to get your five a day?

Incredible kale

This winter green is one of the most disease resistant vegetables, so it can almost grow on its own without you having to do anything. As with all crops though, it's helpful to keep an eye on weeds and make sure they have enough sun and water. Dwarf varieties of kale aren't bothered by windy weather, unlike tomato plants for instance, and it will even give you a nice supply in frosty months.

Kale leaves are ready to pick when they're about the size of your hand.

Tasty ways to use kale

Are you a big fan of crisps? Why not try a healthier homemade version using kale? All you need is a little oil, salt and cinnamon to make a leafy green snack or party nibble. Or try it simply steamed for a nutritious side to sausage and mash.

Copious courgettes

Courgettes are a great veg to grow - if you have the space for them, as the leaves and courgettes grow outwards. Courgettes grow quickly - you could be tucking into them after around 12 weeks, and  you can even eat the pretty yellow flowers. Courgette plants aren't too happy in windy weather so they'll need a sheltered spot. They're hungry too, so keep them topped up with rich soil and feed them with seaweed or poultry manure pellets.

You can pick courgettes when they're very small and tasty, or let them get to the size of marrows. As courgettes grow quickly, you could be picking them around three times a week. Slice them at the base without damaging the plant and they'll keep coming back.
Tip: If you start seeing greenfly appear under the leaves, spray a very weak solution of washing up liquid over them - literally a drip into a spray bottle of water and shake it. This means you can just rinse it off when you come to eat the courgettes.

Tasty ways to use courgettes

Sliced lengthways they're great grilled with a drizzle of olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Heard of courgette spaghetti? If you have spiralizer you can make tasty thin spirals to go with your pasta sauce. If you don't have one you can create courgette ribbons with a potato peeler.  Stuff courgette flowers with herbs and cheese or mix them into a risotto.

Fill your plate with home grown food from the heart

Whether you have one acre or one metre of space, you can have a go at growing some tasty, healthy vegetables. You don't even need a garden. You can do some amazing things just with containers and bit of inventiveness! Think vertical gardens, upcycled furniture like old an old chest of drawers, glass jars, or rain gutters. Whatever you choose to grow your veg in, you'll be able to enjoy a special sense of achievement knowing you've grown something with natural goodness, ready to eat. What's more, you've grown it yourself.

Come on, get growing!

See what delicious delights you can grow in your garden. With a little effort you could be filling your dinner plates with more fresh veg than you ever expected!

Want some recipes for your tasty home-grown veg? Check these out:

6 Delicious dips to dress up your raw veggies
Carrot soup
6 great ways to cook with courgettes

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