Hi everyone! Welcome back to all our readers, we hope you are all keeping well and safe. Today we wanted to write a blog that was completely different to anything we have done before. We know how hard times are right now and it can be difficult to find positive things to do. One of the things that many of our accommodation providers find enjoyment in is gardening. Whether you have a big garden, a small courtyard or even just a windowsill there is something you can all do in the garden. Today’s blog will take you through some gardening projects you can get stuck into. This week we are specifically focusing on the vegetables you can grow from home, all of which you can start sowing now. Many of the photos from today’s blog are from West Down Guest House who are keen gardeners and enjoy growing their own veg. If you want to learn more about what they do over at West Down Guest House be sure to take a look at their page on our website.
For those of you who enjoy the idea of growing veg then carrots are a great choice. If you have a vegetable patch then you can sow this directly into the ground from seed. All you need is a trowel to make a channel across the bed around 1cm deep. Sow the carrot seeds thinly across the channel. Cover back over with the soil and water in well with a fan/rose headed watering can. Make sure to make a label so you remember what you planted where!
Did you know that you can grow carrots in containers too? This means that even if you do not have a vegetable patch you can still enjoy growing your own produce. Any shape container will work so find something at home that is deep enough to allow a full-length carrot to grow. Make sure the container has some holes in the bottom to allow drainage. Fill your pot with a good compost and then sow the seeds 1cm deep, covering back over with a light layer of compost. Water well, label and watch your seedlings begin to pop through within a few weeks.
Another great crop to grow that makes us all think about summer is of course tomatoes. There are a couple of different ways to grow tomatoes depending on what facilities you have. You can grow them in a greenhouse or in pots/grow bags. Whatever way you can grow them get your fingers green and give it a go. The whole process from starting with seeds to picking your first few ripe tomatoes is a very therapeutic exercise. No matter which way you choose to grow your tomatoes the starting process is all the same. Fill a few small containers (small enough to sit in a warm greenhouse or on your windowsill in your house) with compost. Depending on how many tomato plants you want, put that number of seeds into your small containers. Put them in at around 1cm deep, cover lightly in soil and water well. The containers need to be relatively warm to start the germination, temperatures of around 18C are best. They can take anywhere between 7-14 days to germinate.
Once the plants have sprouted and are looking healthy in their small container they will need to be potted onto larger individual pots. To do this simply get a few of the larger pots, fill them with compost and make a small hole using a pen or your finger in the centre of the pot. Then prick out your tomato plants individually. You want to be careful when doing this not to disturb the roots too much. Our top tip would be to use something like a pencil to dig down into the soil and gently lift up towards the plants. Once the plants are loose pick them up from the leaves as opposed to their stem. Place each tomato plant into their individual pot, patting down the soil to secure them. Give them a good water and depending on whether you have seen the last frost of the winter keep them inside or place them in a sunny spot outside (unless you are keeping them in greenhouses). Let them grow on for a few weeks to allow them to become strong plants. Then when you are happy with their sizes they can be potted on for the final time. This is where it is slightly different depending on what facilities you have and how you want to plant your tomatoes.
If you are planning to keep your tomatoes in the greenhouse then all you will need to do is pot the tomato plants individually into even bigger pots. When the tomatoes begin to gain heigh,t you will want to help support them by tying them up. You can either use canes to tie them to or some people choose to tie them with string to the top of the greenhouse, guiding the plant upwards. Finally, all you will want to do is feed your tomatoes with a fertiliser feed once a week to help produce delicious tomatoes.
If you are planning to grow your tomatoes in containers or grow bags outside then all you will need to do is transfer the tomato plants into a grow bag or container that has plenty of soil. Do not do this until you are sure there will be no more frosts. Place them in a warm sunny spot in your garden, patio or courtyard and water well. Make sure your containers or grow bags have small holes in them to allow drainage. As the plants begin to grow you will need to support them with canes. Then you just need to remember to feed them once a week with a fertiliser feed to help produce delicious tomatoes.
Potatoes are another great vegetable to grow at home. Again, you can grow these in a vegetable patch but if you do not have one, they can easily be grown in a container/grow bag. There are several types of potatoes you can purchase to grow depending on what size, colour shape ect you want. However, the main thing you want to do is purchase seed potatoes rather than using potatoes brought from the supermarket. This is because they will produce a more reliable crop. Before you plant out your potatoes you want to ‘chit’ them. This is a process by which you let the potatoes grow shoots. You can achieve this by placing them in seed trays or egg containers and place them in a cool light spot until 1-2cm shoots have formed.
If you are planting your potatoes into a vegetable patch, then you want to plant them in rows at around 12cm deep and 30cm apart with 60cm between rows. You want to plant the potatoes with the shoots facing upwards. Water your potatoes regularly and keep them weed-free. As the potato leaves shoot out of the ground and begin to grow upwards you will need to cover the shoots to stop the developing potatoes becoming green and inedible. This is called ‘earthing up’. You can harvest your potatoes when they begin to flower and enjoy.
If you are planning on growing potatoes using containers or grow bags, then the process is similar but with a few alterations. Find a large pot or purchase a bag online, try to find a fairly large one if you can. Add a bottom layer of around 10cm worth of compost and place three to five chitted seed potatoes a hand width apart on the surface. Cover with a further 10cm of compost and water well. As the shoots begin to rise to about 8cm above the compost add another 10cm of compost. Keep doing this alongside watering until you reach the top of the pot. Harvest your potatoes when they begin to flower and enjoy!
We hope you have enjoyed this blog post and perhaps we have inspired you to get out into your garden and get planting. Many of our accommodation providers love to grow veg. Like West Down Guest house, who even serve the vegetables they grow in their evening meals. For more information on West Down Guest House be sure to take a look at their page.