Happy New Year to you all! We really hope that you have had a lovely Christmas and that 2017 holds lots of exciting things for you.
That being said, January is often a time in which we try to cut back on those treats that we slightly over-indulged on over the festive period. However, getting healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact, there are foods that you can grow in your back garden, vegetable patch or greenhouse that are nutritionally balanced and taste delicious. Read on for some grow-spiration!
- Sow: March – September
- Plant out: March – September
- Harvest: May - October
The foundation of every yummy salad is a bed of crisp, fresh lettuce.
Sow the lettuce seeds in a line and cover with about ¼ of an inch of soil. As the leaves get to about 1 inch tall, thin the leaves by cutting them (you can eat these if you wish), leaving 4 inches in between each lettuce plant. The best time to water is in the early morning.
Lettuce is ready to be harvested when a firm heart has formed, or for loose-leaf lettuce when it looks big enough to eat. Cut the lettuce rather than pulling it.
- Sow: March - May & August – September
- Harvest: All year round
Spinach is rich in Iron, which produces energy, and it is also rich in many Vitamins, which is how it’s managed to position itself as the king of healthy veg. Put into a salad or wilted over a lean chicken breast, this vegetable is both delicious and versatile.
Sow under cover in late winter and plant out in early spring, or directly into the soil from the spring using cloches for protection if required. Thin the seedlings to about 7.5cm apart when they are large enough to handle and keep well watered during dry periods in summer.
A few weeks after thinning, harvest the leaves by simply cutting them from the stem.
- Sow: March – July
- Harvest: June - October
This wonderfully vibrant vegetable is easy to grow making it great for beginners. Try roasting it or pickle it at home for a tasty addition to salads.
Beetroot requires fertile conditions so before sowing, dig in a good amount of garden compost and rake through a multi-purpose garden fertiliser. If you’re sowing early, protect with horticultural fleece or cloches. When the seedlings are roughly 2.5cm high, thin out to leave one seedling per 10cm. In dry spells, water every 10-14 days.
A beetroot has reached maturity when they are around the size of a cricket ball. To harvest beetroots by hand, grasp the area where the leaves meet the beetroot and pull until it comes out of the ground. Alternatively you can carefully dig around and below the growing beet and then lift them out of the ground.
- Sow: April – June
- Plant Out: July
- Harvest: September - October
Soya beans are an excellent source of protein and the whole pods can be boiled or steamed, then shelled for the bean inside.
Sow or plant 15cm apart in rows that are around 45cm apart. For a successful crop, most soya beans need a long, hot summer with temperatures between 20-30°C but some modern varieties such as the “Black Jet” are a little more hardy and can withstand cooler conditions.Slowly accustom indoor sown plants to outdoor conditions before planting out when any risk of frost has passed. Soya beans prefer moist soil in a sunny position. Hoe around plants regularly and keep well watered.
The leaves will start to fall from plants when the beans are ripe enough to harvest.
We hope this has given you a few ideas on what you can grow in the garden, be sure to check individual guidelines on the packets of seeds that you buy. Have a wonderful January and happy growing!