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Last week the blog included some tips on starting a new vegetable garden and, judging by the emails I received (thank you), a number of you found it very helpful (fantastic!). With that in mind, I am following up this week with some advice on choosing what to grow which I hope will hit the spot for some of you. Here we go!

How much space do you have?

What you can grow depends a lot on the amount of growing space you have available. If you have a small garden or are growing in containers it is best to stick to more compact crops that will give you a better yield per square metre.

It is very common for beginners to underestimate how much space certain plants need; this is especially true for members of the cabbage family like cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or purple sprouting broccoli which need nearly a square metre of space for each plant to grow well. In the same square meter as a single cabbage you could fit 40 carrots, 25 beetroot, 20 leeks or 16 medium lettuce so you can see how much difference your plant choice makes.

I would also say be realistic about the range of plants you want to grow. I sometimes see orders on our website where a new grower orders one or two 6×4 raised beds and then a list of plants and seeds that you would need half an acre to grow. This is a totally understandable mistake to make but reinforces the point that planting distance is, in my opinion, the place to start for beginner gardeners. Spacings are important and are ignored at your peril, too many plants squeezed into a small space will result in small and sickly crops and very little in terms of harvest to show for your trouble.

Succession Sowing

I will cover succession sowing in much more detail in a couple of weeks when I share my own garden plan with you but I am just making the point here that the same space can be used more than once in a season. Therefore, if you have a small space, one plant can follow another e.g. growing beetroot after broad beans have been harvested as in my plan from last year.

Anyway the point is that, if you have a limited space, you should also consider how long a particular crop spends in the ground so you can use the space for a follow on crop. Brussels sprouts would be a good example of a crop not suited to a small plot because they go in the ground in Spring and use the space right through to the following year.

Grow for local conditions

Varieties that are suited to your local conditions will grow easily with minimal input from you whereas unsuitable plants will not yield well if they are able to grow at all.

The most important factor is temperature which is roughly dependant on how far north you are and will make a big difference for warm climate crops. For example if you are growing in southern counties in the UK you should be able to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, sweetcorn or French beans outdoors whereas northern gardeners will need to grow them under cover. On the other hand leafy greens like cabbage, spinach or kale will thrive in a cool and moist climate (like my garden) but will struggle, or at least need a lot more watering in drier areas. Be aware that not every crop may suit your garden and plan accordingly.

Soil types

I guess local conditions also covers soil types as the soil you have in your garden (heavy clay, light and sandy or somewhere in between) will have an effect on what crops grow best. Carrots, for example, are a crop many gardeners struggle to grow well but, in most cases, it is neither the fault of the gardener nor the carrot.

It is obvious really but a carrot will find it much easier to grow a nice straight and fat root in light sandy soil than in heavy clay simply because it is easier to make space for itself to grow. If you have a sandy soil you are on to a winner but if your soil is heavy, I would be inclined to grow stump rooted carrots (which taste just as good but won’t look so exciting) or avoid growing them altogether. Read More

source : – Quick Crop

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