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Five steps to growing salad & vegetables at home

The unpredictable combination of lockdown restrictions and beautiful weather throughout 2020 lead to record demand for seeds, flowers, and gardening equipment as people across the country chose to spend their extra time at home enhancing their outdoor spaces. 

Growing your produce straight from your home has a range of advantages for your well-being. The most obvious benefit is that it can encourage you to add more fruit and vegetables into your daily diet, plus you get to know exactly where your food is coming from.

Gardening can also improve your mental health a great deal too. In fact, Mycobacterium Vaccae, a natural bacteria that lives in soil, can increase your serotonin levels and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

To celebrate National Garden Week, we’ve shared our five-step guide to growing salad and vegetables from your home.

Step One: Plan and Prepare

Before you rush outside with a packet of seeds and a shovel, it is a good idea to understand your garden a bit better. Firstly, you need to figure out whether your garden is north or south facing. Knowing where and when the sun will hit your garden will help you decide where you should position particular plants.

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You should also be aware of what type of soil is in your garden and its pH levels. You can do this by checking the plants that are already growing or using an at-home kit which is reasonably cheap to buy.

Step Two: The Right Equipment

If you’re new to gardening and looking to invest in some quality tools, the last thing you want is to spend hundreds of pounds of equipment that will end up sitting in a dusty shed for most of the year. There are new tools released frequently that are made for specific tasks or plants, but if you’re looking just for bare essentials, here are some recommendations;

  • Hand Trowel/Fork: very standard tools but come in very handy when planting and breaking up soil.
  • Gardening Gloves: protect your hands when pulling up weeds or handling sharp bushes or plants.
  • Secateurs: helpful for pruning plants, flowers and branches.
  • Garden Hose: a watering can do the job, especially when handling seedlings and young plants; however, when it comes to maintaining a large garden area, a hose is a much more efficient way to keep your plants hydrated.
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Step Three: Perfect Timing

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Whether they need planting directly outside in the ground or sowing indoors with heat, you must sow your seeds at the right time of the season. Most vegetables need to be sown in Spring (March to May), ready to begin harvesting mid-summer.

You can cut lettuce, rocket, spinach and other salad leaves as it grows as they continue to grow if appropriately managed.

Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and beans should be ready for eating by the summer. Whereas, some larger plants such as cabbages, leeks and brussels sprouts will not be ready until next year, around January/February.

Step Four: Protect your Plants

There’s nothing worse than spending weeks nurturing your plants, only for them to be demolished for unwanted insects. Although there are many effective insect repellents available, there are also plenty of natural, DIY alternatives to protect your veg.

A cheap and easy way to keep slugs and snails off your plants is to spread crushed eggshells around the area. The sharp shells will hurt the creatures and stop them from getting close to your produce.

Bugs are also susceptible to certain smells; consider planting aromatic plants such as citronella, basil, mint and lemongrass around your garden. Covering plant beds with netting will also stop larger creatures such as birds, squirrels or rabbits from helping themselves.

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Step Five: Attract Visitors

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Although there are many creatures you want to keep away from your garden, there is plenty of wildlife that can be highly beneficial to your plants. Some birds eat many garden nuisances, including slugs, snails, and caterpillars, whereas bees will help pollinate your flowers and crops.

Setting up bird feeders or tables, along with bug hotels and hedgehog houses is a great way to encourage more wildlife into your garden as well as a fun way to involve young children in the gardening process by creating them together.

 

And there you have it, five steps to growing your vegetables at home. Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram for more updates, tips and tricks today.

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