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Talkback: 'Grow Your Own' Week: Getting started

Thanks for the advice. I'm a complete novice but I started with a compost bin last year and now the compost looks good. I've just bought my first raised bed to sow veg in. I've bought plugs of broccoli, leeks, cauliflower & sweetcorn. But I have bought some potatoes to sow and carrot & parsnip seeds. I'm going to give it a go and as you said any mistakes I make will be part of the learning experience. Thanks.


  • Good advice Kate. This will be my third year of growing veggies and I've made lots of mistakes, but I've had a lot of success as well. The first year I lost all my tomatoes to the dreaded blight, my dwarf french beans were covered in aphids, the brassicas were decimated by caterpillars and I stupidly sowed carrot's in modules and then transplanted them into the raised beds, they were the most peculiar shapes when harvested,lol, but still edible. So last year I only grew tomatoes inside my greenhouse which were a success, I planted marigolds in amongst the dwarf french beans and not an aphid in sight and my husband built a sort of fruit cage for the brassicas,we could not find any info on how tall sprouts or broccoli grew so he made it 90cm high, which turned out to be not tall enough and was lifted off the ground by the plants,lol. The carrots were still not great, I probably didn't thin them enough and although they were planted in trugs balanced on stacked up bricks to avoid the carrot fly they still managed to attack them (how high do they have to be?). This year I've bought the carrot seed tape and am planting them amongst the garlic and keeping my fingers crossed that this works, if not I'll try the resistant ones. My husband is going to extend the height of the brassica cage(can anyone tell me how tall they do grow?) I've also had great success with beetroot which I make into chutney, the sweetcorn was so much tastier than shop bought and the butternut squash not only stored well but tasted great, and I have just dug up the last of the leeks. Oh and the new potatoes that I grew in bags were both tasty and plentiful. As you can see I've learnt from my mistakes I'll also not be sowing all the seeds in the packet, last year I gave lots of plants away and this year I'm going to be succesionally sowing the lettuce so that they do not all mature at once. If I could pass on one piece of advice it would be not to give up as the rewards far outweigh the effort.
  • I totally agree with Kate and Dalia Lover! My success over the past few has been varied to say the least. Last year I had allium leaf miner desimate my Leeks, tomato blight destroy my outdoor toms, my courgettes were less than impressive and my potato crop was disapointing too. The previous year however I had a smashing harvest...I hope this year will be better. I do sow more than I need and generally have to give a glut away (but for me this is half the fun and instills a sense of pride that is quite difficult to describe). Seeing those tiny seeds grow into something you and your family can eat is amazing...don't give up!!!
  • Hi,
    I've grown some tomatoes from seed this year for my allotment, they are now about 6" high and need potting on into individual pots, can anyone let me know if I can put in an unheated greenhouse to grow on. I dont have a heated greenhouse over my allotment and very limited space at home.
    I really dont want to run the risk of them dying but what can I do. Its the beginning of April and I live quite near to Heathrow Airport London.
    Can anyone advise me please.
  • Last year was my first year and I lost all my toms to blight yet could have saved all but one had I known the signs as the first plant became infected. My tatties in a bag did awful as did my peppers which cooked in a 2 shelf mini greenhouse with doors zip closed but I did get good results from my peas, strawberries and the few radishes I grew.
    This year though, with all my newfound experience and knowledge and my greenhouse which is coming next week and my plants which are all growing indoors under lights (couldn't wait), fingers crossed I will be inundated with great stuff to eat and spare to share.
  • What was the name of the new plant a cross between a sprout & kale thank you
  • Flower sprout
  • I too am learning as I go along. Lost all my leeks to leek moth last year - have put enviromesh over all my alliums this year.

    Planted way too many courgettes (friends start avoiding you when you try to give them yet another batch!)

    Also found out about successional sowing - am now sowing half rows of everything like salad to try and avoid the glut.

    Have found the carrot seeds on a tape the best invention ever - almost total germination and nicely spaced carrots.

    Alos love the gro pots which are featured in this months magazine for Tomatoes - got the best crop I had ever had last year with these. Saw in the magazine to plant a marigold next to each plant in the pot so will definitely try that this year.

    Now if I could only stop my strawberries getting vine weevil then the world would be a better place!

    However it gives me such pleasure to grow everything and each year you work out ways to improve things.
  • Thanks for admitting to your mistakes. I don't feel like a complete failure! Even though my tomatos and potatos are tiny. My carrots are great! I grow them from seed in 40cm long drain pipes! I may only get 17 carrots but at least they are straight and carrot fly free.
  • i am trying to grow basil from seed and my kitchen windowsill does not get sun, however is bright, is this an issue??
  • for the lady that lives near Heathrow yes put the tomato plants into your unheated greenhouse I do exactly that I live near Gatwick and never had trouble with mine. don't forget to talk to them tell them what cleaver little plants they are.
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