Grab those wellies, wrap up and get outside, it’s the perfect time to prepare your new veg patch. The ground has softened up enough to tackle those weeds. After working the ground in this weather you’ll want to clean your tools too. I like to clean off forks and trowels and wax their wooden bits or if they’ve reached the end of their career treat yourself to new models.
I’ve found it’s better to under plan than over plan, especially when you’re getting started. It’s better to have a bit of space which you can always add to rather than having an over packed patch where you may need to get rid of some plants.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a garden for your grand design, you can still successfully grow veggies in pots and planters. You can grow potatoes in dustbins and tomatoes in growbags both readily available in garden centres or even from your milkman! Other veggies that grow well in pots are beans, lettuce, carrots & radishes. But the list doesn’t stop there, cauliflowers and beetroots may take a pot each but if looked after properly (daily watering), they will flourish in pots. You can also buy raised planters from most garden centres or even build your own to create mini raised beds which will make great homes for most vegetables. Just make sure you can invest the time in tending to your veggie babies and water them every day.
This spring I must admit that I indulged somewhat and hired a wonderful gardener to weed my soon to be veg patch. If you can spare the cash this is a good option if like me you have a weed infested bed with lots of deep roots. Sam from ‘Samantha Jones secateurs and The City’ did 3 4-hour afternoons for me which included a hedge trim and the removal of a very well settled snowberry bush all for £225. If I had tackled it myself, I may not have found the time to have it all done in time.
In fact, as soon as she finished, we rushed to the garden centre and bought some veg plugs to start us off. Vegetable plug plants are pre-grown vegetable seedlings which have been started under cover and should already be strong enough to survive bad weather and are great to give you a head start on the season.
Andy was keen to grow carrots; I would normally save the space for something more unusual but compromise is good for a marriage and so we have 3 rows of carrots. Also, carrots are wonderful when small and popped in salads. You can even make them into pesto! Find a recipe for delicious carrot top pesto in Fast & Free on page 238
Kale was our next choice. I haven’t grown it before and am not sure I have the patience for it, like most brassica you grow it through the spring and summer for an autumn crop, I’m also waiting to see if it will last the slugs. The chickens will also like nibbling on the kale leaves for something different to eat. It is also awesome in a Kale Caesar salad, find the recipe on page 105 of Happy Salads, a delicious replacement for the more traditional cos. If however the slugs, or the chickens, get your crops you can always buy our Kale Caesar Salad in any LEON restaurant.
Broad Beans were my choice. A beautiful bean that isn’t so common in the supermarkets. I just adore the velvety almost fluffy feel of the pod case insides as you slide the beans out with your fingers. Lightly steamed or sautéed with a little olive oil and lemon juice, delicious.
After we got the veg plugs in, I set up my bean poles. Runner beans are a super rewarding vegetable to grow. Initially needing regular watering, at least once a day, and keep an eye out for those slugs. Runner beans just keep growing and growing, producing beautiful red or white flowers that’ll transform into deliciously long bean pods. Often more than you can keep up with. The in-laws end up freezing a lot and extending the season.
Every year Mrs Malley produces jars of the most wonderful sweet runner bean chutney, jars of which are coveted by the entire family. This year I intend to try and replicate it and to get the Mrs Malley seal of approval. So keep those peepers peeled for the recipe in a future Urban Farmer blog.
As always please get in touch if you have any questions, and please send us any photos of your veg patch, we’d love to hear about your adventures.