Planning a new vegetable garden is one thing, but actually starting one is another. Most novice gardeners plan over the winter and dig in January and February.
You have to clear your vegetable patch before you can start anything. This involves some hard work with a fork and spade. If you are digging up a lawn then pile the turves upside down in a compost bin and wait for the grass to rot down. You will end up with a pile of soil rich in organic matter.
You will need to do quite a lot of hands and knees work, so every part of your new vegetable garden needs to be within reach of a path. Stone paths are hard on the knees, so any paths should be grass or wood chip/bark. Use grass around the outside and bark or woodchip for any paths within your vegetable area. Grow easy crops in your first year.
The easiest are potatoes. Grow new potatoes for a taste equal to any shop bought Jersey Royals at next to no cost. You may be thinking you need mounds of earth like farmers have. Forget it, there is no need.
In mid-March just dig a hole with a trowel about 8in deep and put one seed potato in there, eye-end uppermost. Cover it up. Repeat, digging more holes 18in apart in a row. Go away and wait.
You don’t even need to weed potatoes because all he top growth stops most weeds from growing.
In early June you can dig up one potato plant and eat what you find. Dig up your potatoes as you need them for the best taste.
Onions are nearly as easy if you plant onion sets (small immature bulbs about half an inch across). Onions do need a lot of fertiliser. Spread chicken manure pellets over your onion bed before planting. Use a large trowel or handful per square yard. Rake them in.
Make a thumb-hole and drop one onion set into it with the pointed end uppermost. Cover the set with soil, but only just. Repeat 6in away until you get to the end of the row.
Start your next row 12in away and repeat the planting process until you run out of sets. A supermarket bag of onion sets will contain at least 100 sets, enough to give you 100 onions.
You will need to weed by hand around the growing onions, though you can use a hoe between the rows.
Harvest all your onions together in early September when the tops have fallen over.
Fresh garden peas are something you cannot buy. The ones in the supermarkets are at least three days old. Peas start to turn their sugar into starch immediately they are picked, so shop bought “fresh” peas are not as sweet as they should be.
Buy a bag of garden compost and fill a window trough with it. In March or April plant your peas using your thumb again, about 2in deep in your window trough. Cover them up and wait a month. Mice love peas and using a trough with an overhanging lip stops them in their tracks.
When your pea plants are about 6in high it is time to plant them in the ground. Make a trowel hole in your new vegetable patch about 4 in deep. Tease a few peas apart using your fingers to separate the roots. Drop one pea in your hole and refill the hole with soil.
Repeat 6in away until all your pea plants are in the ground. Make your rows six inches apart as well. You can start picking peas in early July. I eat most of mine straight off the plant, but if you can get them inside all they need is two minutes steaming.
When you plant your peas refill your window box trough with fresh compost. Sprinkle leek seeds onto the surface and cover with just a few handfuls of compost. Wait.
In August you can plant your leeks where your peas or potatoes were. Add more chicken manure pellets and rake them in. Make a narrow hole using a hammer handle or a dibber. Tease the leeks apart and drop one leek seedling into each hole. Water them but leave the holes without filling them up with soil.
Leeks and onions are the same family so it is best not to plant them in the same space one after the other.
Dig up your leeks as you need them from November to March. Use a garden fork and you can even have fresh leeks in the deepest frost.