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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy crops for beginners for gardening


Easy crops for beginners to grow in the garden
Growing veg plants in the garden is an easy task. No, really, it is.
I can do it, and I'm fairly useless at most practical things. It's a bit like cooking: the first time I turned a hob on, I was terrified I would burn down the whole house, and then give any survivors salmonella. Looking back, I think I left the hob on for about an hour after I had served the food, which just goes to show you can be pretty gormless and still grow plenty of veg.
But when you start cooking, you start with the simple stuff: an omelette here, the odd bolognese there, and after a while, you're serving up roulades and stuffed pheasant galore.
And so with vegetables. If you're growing your own for the very first time this year, start with these five easy crops to build your confidence, and you'll find the fancy crops far less terrifying. Of course, there are a few caveats to saying growing veg is easy. You do need to water the things, and keep an eye out for odd pest. But on the whole, these crops will make you burst with pride, and hanker for more veg-growing exploits.
Radishes
These are marvelously simple and quick to grow, and are often the first vegetables to crop on your plot. Start sowing in March, and thin to 5cm apart, watering well during dry spells. Within three weeks, the radishes will have sprinted their way to a harvestable size, and you'll be crunching away happily. Sow every three weeks for continuous crops.
New potatoes
Leave tubers out to sprout in a warm, light room until the sprouts are 2.5cm long. Then plant 15cm deep, with the end that has the most sprouts facing up, 30cm apart. When the new shoots reach 20cm tall, pull earth up to their tips. The potatoes are ready once the plant has flowered for a couple of weeks, but have a grub about in the soil to check the buried treasure first.
Garlic
A very forgiving crop that really just asks to be planted in either autumn or spring (check the variety), four inches deep, and then left to its own devices.
It isn't a big fan of heavy soils, but other than snipping off the lovely, edible, loop-the-loop flower buds of hard neck varieties, you'll find the next thing you do is harvest the big bulbs in mid-summer.
Courgettes
Even if you are a courgette-eating fiend, you'll find yourself rapidly overwhelmed by the number of fruits these plants produce.
Soak the seeds overnight in warm water before sowing on their side in pots of compost in early May.
Plant out in rich soil once all danger of frosts has passed (probably early June), and feed once a fortnight.
Chard
This is easy-peasy, and something you can't buy in the shops. Just sow the seeds outdoors from April, and thin to about 20cm apart.
You'll have beautiful spinach-like leaves and multicolored stems all the way until the next spring.
Are you planning to grow veg for the first time this year, or are you a seasoned GYO-er? We want to hear what you're sowing, and what vegetables you'd recommend for newbie.

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