Tag Archives: growing vegetables

Our potted allotment

1 Oct

You may have seen our earlier post on growing vegetables in containers. This was our second year attempting to grow some of our five-a-day in pots or raised beds. We had the best weather for growing this summer but it was difficult to keep up with the constant watering. That is the difficulty with container grown veg. It all dries out very quickly and to make matters worse our three water butts ran empty three times over the summer.

On the plus side, the garden was teeming with wildlife. Some good, some not so good like these pesky caterpillars!

caterpillar-1

Solomon Seal Sawfly - How disgusting?!

Solomon Seal Sawfly – How disgusting?!

And here are some photos of the good guys which are always welcome in our garden.

Our garden has been full of Hoverflies this year

Our garden has been full of Hoverflies this year

Damselflies feed on flies and other small insects

Damselflies feed on flies and other small insects

toad

Mr Toad lives in one of the grow bags containing our tomatoes

So, now to the fruits of our labour. We have had a fantastic crop of runner beans this year. They have been producing for months and are still showing no signs of stopping. Our freezer is full of them! They freeze really well, just prepare them and drop them into boiling water for one minute. Then transfer them to some icy cold water and cool before bagging them up into freezer bags. We grew these in some raised beds, about 4′ x 4′, I initially raised the seeds in pots and then transplanted them out in spring.

Our runner beans at the start of the summer

Our runner beans at the start of the summer

We grew Broad Beans for the first time this year, again in our raised bed and I was really happy with these. We planted them in the winter and they were ready to harvest in June. This was great as they were ready before the rest of the vegetables which all seem to be ready at once.

broad beans

We grew our Courgettes in pots and also planted a couple in a spare piece of flower bed. All of the plants were successful. the pot-grown ones did have the advantage of being better protected from the slugs.

courgette

We had a bumper crop of garlic and will certainly be planting some more this autumn. This lot should see us through until then.

garlic

Our potatoes were a bit disappointing this year. We grow these in old water butts. We had one that was leaking so we cut it in half and now have two giant planters. They usually work well but this year they got blight and a lot of them were wasted. Next year we will try a different variety. The ones that were successful were still very tasty and the children love digging them up!

potatoes

Other crops that worked well this year were salad leaves (the cut and come again variety), beetroot and carrots. We also had a really good crop of blackcurrants from just one plant that is grown in a pot. The children were picking these straight off the plant and eating them… yummy.

We will never be completely self-sufficient from our container-grown crops but we have certainly cut down on our food bill this year. For us though it’s about the satisfaction of growing your own food, knowing where it has come from and involving the whole family in growing it.

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Vegetable growing with children

2 Apr

No matter what size garden you have, there is always some kind of space you can use to grow things in.   If you have no garden you can use a sunny windowsill, a window box or even a pot outside the door.  Children LOVE to see something grow which they have planted themselves.  It is a good project for teaching them how to look after something and if they forget to water it for a few days it has less scary consequences then forgetting to feed the pet rabbit!

This year we thought we would attempt growing some vegetables with the children.  We wanted them to be able to see the whole process through from sewing the seeds to picking the crops. In an attempt to keep it fairly easy for them and to keep everything in one place, we invested in a raised bed from our local garden centre. It is easy for them to access and just the right height.

Watering in our seeds!

We decided to grow a few easy crops to start off with. Carrots, Beetroot, Lettuce and Green Beans. They are all vegetables that they enjoy eating, and I’m hoping this will help to keep them interested. We’ve also got a couple of half barrels which we have planted up with potatoes.

The following crops are all suitable for growing in pots or grow bags. If using pots then plastic is better than clay as they are less quick to dry out. Just make sure that your pot is deep enough to accommodate the roots and that the vegetables have enough room to grow.

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Herbs
  • Beetroot
  • Strawberries

If you have a greenhouse or a very sunny window sill, you could also try peppers or aubergine.

Of course you don’t have to use conventional plant pots, why not reuse other containers. You can use old baskets lined with plastic, old buckets and boxes and hanging baskets. As long as there are suitable drainage holes in the bottom and it will not dry out too quickly, anything goes. I once saw a row of old wellies all planted up with salad leaves – I think we might give this a go too!

I will let you know how we get on later in the year.  Are you growing anything with your children this summer?