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Growing your own is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things you can do in the garden and the good news is that contrary to popular belief, you really don’t need acres of space to start reaping the benefits of what you grow.

Here are our top ten tips to help you succeed

1

Choose what you want to grow

It may sound obvious but knowing what you want to plant is often the hardest thing to decide. If you are someone who likes to see instant results, or are looking to make your ‘grow your own’ adventure a real family affair, then consider starting off with plants that produce almost instant results and, self-perpetuating harvests. We love micro herbs like cress and pea shoots and don’t forget salad leaves are easy too!
2

Find the perfect spot - if space is tight go vertical

Whether your garden is large or small, you can easily grow an abundance of fabulous fresh herbs, fruit and veg. You just need to find a space that is light and airy, because most ‘grow your own’ herbs and veg love being bathed in sunshine. If you love the idea of going vertical, make sure you include plants such as beans, tomatoes and peas. The great thing about growing vertical is, that your plants, are a lot less susceptible to pests and fungi. Don’t forget to provide some shelter too, as you don’t want to leave your plants exposed to the elements.
TOP-TIP: A windbreaker can act as the perfect barrier - providing your plants with all the protection they need to thrive.
3

Start small, mix it up and include a variety of containers and planters

The great thing about growing your own is that there are no hard and fast rules, a 3x3 square foot plot can provide you and your family with an incredible array of delicious home grown herbs and vegetables. Don’t forget you can grow a dazzling array of delicious fruit and veg in pots and containers.
TOP-TIP: Before planting anything it is always worth considering what vegetables you buy most often, as these are your ‘staple’ items. When planting you can look to devote about half of your space to your most used, or staple items.
4

Love your soil

We may not give much thought to soil but healthy soil means not just healthy plants but nutritious ones too. So, check your soil before you plant, a simple squeeze test will help you to determine whether your soil tends towards sand, clay or loam. Understanding our soil’s ph levels, texture and nutrient levels will help us benefit from healthy plants, whilst ensuring that we maintain healthy soil. You can buy a simple ph testing kit from most garden centres. Incredibly, one teaspoon of soil can contain more organisms than there are people on the planet, yet we are fast running out of it!
5

Think seasonal

As with all things, planning what you plant and when, really will help ensure that what you harvest benefits from being in season. Why not get yourself a pocket calendar and get planning.
6

Variety really is the spice of life

As my grandmother used to say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!” the same applies to growing your own. As one of the easiest mistakes people make when they start out is planting too many of one thing and that can have a negative impact when, after a few months, you only get to harvest carrots.
7

Try companion planting

Companion planting is good for you and even better for nature, it is an integral part of permaculture. Growing plants, fruit and vegetables that compliment each other results in bigger and healthier yields, helps to reduce pests, improves your soil and can also aid water conservation. Look out for our companion planting blog coming soon!
8

To seed or to plug? That is the question

The most appropriate planting method will depend on what you are planning to grow. Bulbs are easy as they go straight into the ground for the novice gardener. Although seeds may seem like the obvious choice they can sometimes lead to frustration. Why not look to start your growing journey using plug plants as these small plants are ready to be planted into the ground or into your pots.
9

How does your garden grow?

Young, tender seedlings and plants really do need some TLC so remember to water them regularly. Don’t forget healthy plants need space to grow, so keep your beds weed and pest free. If you haven’t got a water butt get one today as this will help you water your garden for free and not waste any precious water.
10

Enjoy your harvest

What can be better than preparing a meal using the freshest of ingredients that are all homegrown and totally delicious too? If you do harvest more than you need you can easily freeze, pickle, can or try to preserve the fruits of your labour for later.

Techniques to preserve your harvest

Freezing is by far the easiest way of preserving your fruit and veg. The two main things to consider are to freeze your produce as quickly as possible and to use proper freezer bags or containers – as this way you will prevent large ice crystals forming and will ensure your produce is as good as the day it was picked.

When we think of pickling, we may just think about shop-bought chutneys that go well with cheese but pickling opens up an abundance of new tastes and flavours that are just waiting to be discovered. From pickling whole vegetables like green beans and okra to slicing carrots, chopping cauliflower florets, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and more, pickling really do bring food to life.

Try our recipe for homemade sauerkraut to preserve any left-over cabbage.

If you have a top food preserving tip or recipe, please share it with the OYOO tribe!

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