Veg patch diaries: part two – an update

Green shoots poking through soil

Growing our own food has been a dream for a long time, and it’s great that we’re finally renting somewhere with a garden, and a vegetable patch that we can cultivate.

Our little patch is not the brightest in the world. It’s quite shady and probably acidic, due to the evergreens nearby. But when was life ever perfect? Here’s some of our progress…

We planted broad beans in February, and the shoots are now up! This photo was taken last month, and the beans are even leafier now.

How to plant broad beans: make a hole a couple of inches deep, plant your beans, and cover with soil. Give them a good watering-in. As with everything seed-related, just follow the instructions on the packet so that you know when to plant them.

Our indoor seedlings

Pinto beans that we sprouted from dried beans in our cupboard

We have no idea how the pinto beans will turn out. But they’re looking good so far!

Broccoli seedlings

Yes, these are in plastic pots. We did our best to reuse lots of egg boxes for our seedlings. Plastic is widespread in gardening, and these were pots we already had. My husband (the actual gardener) has convinced me that he’ll reuse these pots for as long as possible, and won’t mistreat them so that they get damaged (they’re so flimsy!).

Plastic is a big problem in gardening. But there are things you can do, like making your own compost (and using your compost bin to home-compost waste packaging), reusing as much as possible, and trying not to buy new plastic items. Garden centres have started to sell bamboo pots instead of plastic pots.

Sowing potatoes


How to grow potatoes: leave your potatoes on a sunny windowsill until they grow greenish shoots, then plant them in trenches. Growing good strong shoots before you plant them means that your spuds are less likely to die in the soil. Once they’re planted, the same rule applies: every time you see a shoot, cover it in some of the soil to strengthen it. Repeat until the trenches are filled in. This way, the shoots keep generating more roots (the edible potato is the plant’s root) and you get more lovely potatoes to eat.

Things we’ve planted so far

Some of these were planted from seed; others from seedlings. Either way, I couldn’t be more excited to eat them when they’re ready!

We’re growing:

  • Aubergine
  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut squash
  • Coriander
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumbers
  • Gooseberry
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Rocket
  • Spinach

How to grow your own veg (a very general guide)

Here are some general guidelines that will help gardening novices (like me) get started:

  1. Good crops start with good soil, so add manure and compost before you begin (and choose a spot that already has good topsoil).
  2. Pest prevention is essential in organic gardens, so be vigilant (e.g. copper tape to keep slugs at bay).
  3. Stay on top of your watering (make sure to check your veg patch regularly, and see what needs help).
  4. Plant stuff in neat rows, so that you know which seedlings are weeds and which are your lovely lined-up veggies.
  5. When you first plant seeds and seedlings, give them a good watering-in to help them get started.
  6. Some things will work well in your garden, and others won’t. Trial and error is part of the process.
  7. Companion planting is your friend. For example, marigolds are a natural insect repellent and will help with things like blackfly.

Do you grow your own veg? Any tips you want to share? Comment below to let me know.

What do you think? Let me know!