In this post, we share our top tips for starting a veggie patch at home even if you have never grown vegetables before.
There are so many advantages to growing veg. Not only are homegrown vegetables far fresher than the ones in the supermarkets, but they also taste better and contain more nutrients too.
Growing your own food means you know exactly where it’s come from and how it’s been treated. Having a veggie patch means no food miles and produce as fresh as it can be. Did you know that as soon as vegetables are picked they start to lose the nutrients, they contain?
Finally spending time growing veg is great for your wellbeing. It gets you outside, counts as exercise and teaches you all about how nature works. It’s a chance to appreciate the natural world, get some fresh air and to de-stress.
So if you’ve decided that this is the year you grow your own, here are our tips for getting the most out of your first season of growing vegetables.
Our top 10 tips for starting your first veggie patch
1. Start with a small veggie patch
My top tip for starting your first vegetable patch is to start small. Falling into the trap of trying to grow every vegetable imaginable is easily done, and you can end up feeling overwhelmed.
Starting with a small patch or just a couple of raised beds will feel much more manageable when you start on your homegrown adventure.
Learn the basics of growing veg and find out if you like spending time outside planting, watering, and weeding before committing lots of time and space to them.
Don’t forget there are many types of vegetables and herbs that will grow quite happily in pots. So not having much space isn’t an obstacle.
2. Grow vegetables you like to eat
There is little point in growing vegetables that no-one in your household will eat.
Instead, choose easy to grow crops that you often eat to make the most of your new vegetable patch.
Cut and come-again crops like salad leaves and spinach are super easy to grow, can be harvested every day and taste amazing freshly picked. They also grow happily in pots outside and even do quite well on a sunny windowsill.
Salad crops are expensive to buy in the shops and tend to use a lot of packaging, so I think they are particularly useful crops to start with at home.
3. Pick the right location for your veggie patch.
Most vegetables need lots of direct sunlight to flourish. The more sunlight vegetables receive, the better they will grow and taste.
Protecting your patch from harsh winds will avoid the plants getting battered and encourage pollinating insects to do their work.
Rich, well-draining soil that isn’t compacted will mean better root growth and healthier plants.
Finally, vegetable plants need lots of water, especially when grown in raised beds. Having a water source nearby rather than at the other end of the garden will save a lot of leg work.
4. If space is at a premium, consider growing veg in raised beds and containers.
The fertile, deep soil in raised beds and containers enables crops to be grown closer together, meaning more food from the same amount of space. Raised beds are particularly useful in an urban vegetable garden where room is at a premium.
The aim is to space vegetables so that when they are fully grown, their leaves just touch each other. Growing veg like this creates a microclimate which suppresses weeds, and conserves moisture, cutting down on work and increasing yields.
For more information about growing vegetables in raised beds check out our article 20 Advantages Of Growing Veg In Raised Beds (And 6 Disadvantages)
5. Plant your seeds in batches
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of planting a whole packet of seeds in one go, then ending up with far more plants than you could ever eat maturing at one time.
By planting rows in succession a month apart, you’ll lengthen your cropping season and make far better use of your beautiful homegrown veg.
6. Plant flowers and herbs alongside your veg.
Not only do they look beautiful, but flowers and herbs will also encourage the pollinators to visit your garden, resulting in higher yields from your vegetables.
Many herbs also act as great companion plants to veg by masking their smell and deterring pests.
7. Keep records
Growing vegetables is a learning experience. What grows well for one person or in one garden depends on a whole host of factors. Weather, soil, pests and quality of seeds all play their part, and every year is different.
Make a note of when you planted, what did well and what grew where. It’ll be a huge help with planning and crop rotation in subsequent years.
8. Start a compost patch.
Vegetable plants have high nutritional requirements, and if you grow them in the same place each year, the soil soon becomes depleted. Crop rotation goes some way to combat this but vegetable garden soil benefits from being fed regularly too.
Homemade compost is a great way to recycle weeds and kitchen waste. Not only does it reduce what goes to landfill; it’s a great way to add nutrients back into your soil.
If you don’t want to put food waste into a traditional compost heap, wormeries are a great alternative. Check out how we made our DIY wormery for just a few pounds.
9. Make space for wildlife
Starting a veggie patch will encourage wildlife into your garden. Expect to find slugs, worms and toads and bees and butterflies too.
Planting herbs and flowers is a great way to support local wildlife, and providing a water source like our bee watering station will help them too.
10. Enjoy your garden!
Spending an hour looking after your vegetables is a great way to unwind.
Start small, enjoy the process and appreciate the results of your hard work. Remember, gardening should be fun.
We hope our top tips for starting your first veggie patch have been useful. If you’d like to check out some more of our gardening crafts and tips you’ll find a selection of our favourites below.
Easy step by step instructions to make a wonderful chicken wire sculpture shaped into a moss and succulent toadstool – a beautiful living garden sculpture.
Plantable seed paper is paper ready-impregnated with seeds. Although expensive in the shops it is super easy and cheap to make at home using simple household items. Using seed paper avoids all the hassle of planting tiny seeds as well as having to thin out seedlings.
Have you heard of a spring bulb lasagne? It’s an easy way to create a beautiful spring bulb potted display that will reward you with flowers from late winter through the whole spring season.
DIY Birch bark covered flowerpots are an easy and cheap pot decoration idea and fit perfectly into a rustic home decor theme.