Growing vegetables at home can be quite simple, and it’s a great way to spend some well needed time outside enjoying some fresh air, and at the end of it, you get to enjoy some of your very own homegrown veggies. If you’re new to growing vegetables this year, then you might want to choose vegetables that are easy to maintain for your first harvest. To celebrate Sophie's new Home Grown design we’ve put together five of our favourite easy vegetables to grow for beginners.
We love growing courgettes, they are easy to grow, and you get so many courgettes off a plant. You can expect around three to four a week, depending on the weather. They need lots of space as they like to spread out, so if you haven’t got a large vegetable patch, you may be better off using a large container or even a grow bag.
When to sow: You should sow courgette seeds indoors between mid to late April. Sow them individually on their side approximately 1.5cm deep, in a 7.5cm compost pot. You can sow seeds outdoors when the weather gets a little warmer, from late May to early July.
When to harvest: Courgettes are ready to harvest between June and October. Harvest your plants regularly to ensure a longer harvest time. They are usually ready when they are between 10 and 12cm long.
Requirements: Plant your courgettes in a sunny spot with plenty of rich soil. They will also need plenty of water as they grow.
Carrots are perfect for beginners looking to grow veg at home, and they are full of so much goodness! They take up little space and can even be grown in pots and containers, which is ideal if you’re short on space in the garden. We love them so much they even appear on Sophie's new Home Grown design! You'll spot them on a range of beautiful homewares and accessories from kitchen linens and table linens to fine bone china mugs and bags.
When to sow: February to July. You can sow early cultivars between February to March under cloches, and you can sow maincrops outdoors from April to early July. Check your seed packets to determine which type you have. You want to sow the seeds approximately 1cm deep in rows and space them out between 15 to 30cm apart.
When to harvest: May to October. Carrots take between 12 to 16 weeks to grow after sowing. When harvesting you should use a fork to lift the roots carefully, especially if you have heavy soil.
Requirements: You’ll need a sunny place with well-drained soil. Carrots are great because they are drought resistant, so they don’t need watering too much. Ensure you regularly weed around your carrots as weeds can outgrow them, and be careful that you don’t damage any of the foliage as the smell can attract carrot flies which causes them to rot. You can cover your carrots with fleece or tunnels to help protect your carrots from any cold weather and carrot flies.
A variety of salad leaves
Salad leaves are super easy to grow as they are cut and come again crops, meaning when you cut the immature leaves, more will regrow in its place. They are great for beginner gardeners and are perfect for growing in the summer months. Common salad leaves include lettuce, rocket, spinach, chicory, or even mixed leaves from seed mixes like baby salad leaves. One of the great things about growing salad leaves at home is that you don’t need a vegetable patch, and you can grow them in containers or grow bags. Just ensure whatever you use has plenty of drainage holes.
When to sow: March through to September. Sow your salad leaves indoors from March, and then outdoors from mid to late spring. You want to plant them roughly 1cm deep, or if you are using a salad seed mix packet, you can sprinkle them on top of your soil, then cover with 1cm of compost.
When to harvest: May through to November. Start cutting your plant when it reaches about 10cm high. Simply trim with scissors, and then your salad leaves will regrow again. You can usually cut salad leaves three to four times. Dependent on how much salad you use, you’d be looking to sow seeds roughly two weeks apart to have salad all through the season.
Requirements: Full sun with well-drained soil. Water early in the morning when the soil is dry.
Potatoes are super satisfying to grow yourself as they usually need a little bit more care and preparation work. There are different types of potatoes that you can grow, including earlies and maincrop. The earlies are typically your new potatoes which are usually ready to harvest much sooner than the maincrop varieties, which tend to be in the ground longer and produce a larger crop with bigger potatoes. With both varieties of potatoes, you need to ‘chit’ them before planting, this means allowing them to start sprouting shoots. To do this, stand them rose end up in egg boxes or trays in a light area (a windowsill is perfect) for roughly two to three weeks. Once you have shoots that are about 3cm long, then you can plant them.
When to plant: March through to May. The time you plant your potatoes will depend on which variety you have, first earlies will be around late March, second earlies will be around the start of April to mid-April and then finally, your maincrops will be mid to late-April. Ideally, you want to dig a narrow trench roughly 15cm deep, then space your potatoes apart, around 30cm, then cover and add general fertiliser. Once you begin to see stems growing, you should draw the soil up to create a hill over the stem, leaving only the top leaves sticking out of the ground. This helps the potatoes grow under the mound of soil, and you should continue to build on your hill as they grow, ideally as tall as you can make it.
When to harvest: June through to October. First earlies will be ready to lift in June and July. Second earlies in July and August and maincrops from late August to October. With earlies, wait until the flowers open or the bud drops, and with maincrops, wait until the foliage turns yellow.
Requirements: You’ll need a sunny area but avoid areas that are prone to a late spring frost. Ideally, you want to prepare the ground in the autumn or winter before by adding rich garden compost, well-rotted manure or organic matter to keep the soil healthy. If you don’t have much garden space or a vegetable patch, then you can grow potatoes in a large deep container. Add roughly 15cm of potting compost and plant a seed potato just below this. As your stems begin to grow, you should add more compost to cover it until your container is full. Potatoes need to be well watered in dry weather.
So tomatoes aren’t technically a vegetable and are classed as a fruit, but we love them, and they are so easy to grow, which is why we’re including them in our top five. You’ll only need a couple of plants to grow an abundance of tomatoes which are sure to keep you going all summer.
When to sow: Between February to March, then plant between May and June. There are two different types of tomatoes you can grow at home, either cordon tomatoes, which grow tall and need support or bush tomatoes, which are much shorter and are bushy (hence the name). Check your seed packets to see which type you have. You’ll need to sow your seeds indoors in warm conditions from late March to early April if you plan to grow them outdoors. If you have a greenhouse, you can begin sowing your seeds between late February to mid-March. Use small pots to sow the seeds and either use a propagator or cover them with a clear plastic bag and keep them on a light windowsill to germinate.
When to harvest: From July through to September. Once ripe and fully coloured, you can pick your tomatoes individually.
Requirements: Warm conditions for seedlings. Either large pots or grow bags or plant outside in a sunny spot. Cordon tomatoes will require support, use bamboo canes to create a structure for your tomatoes. With cordon tomatoes, you will need to regularly remove any side shoots that appear between the leaves and the stem, this will encourage more fruit to grow. Bush tomatoes don’t require support, and you don’t need to worry about side shoots either.
Growing vegetables at home can be quite daunting to start with, but we hope you have fun doing so. It’s super rewarding knowing that you have grown you’re very own food. If you like this blog post then we are sure you'll love Sophie's Home Grown collection, which is covered in our favourite seasonal vegetables, including parsnips, carrots, turnips and beetroot. Do you have any tips for growing vegetables at home? Let us know in the comments below, we'd love to read them.