An easy way to start a new veg patch

Starting a brand new veg patch can be a little overwhelming, with all sorts of questions cropping up from “how do I build a raised bed?” to “can I grow cabbages in pots?” This post explains all the basics to get you going.

  1. Choose a suitable site
    Ideally an area that gets at least 6 hours sunshine during the day and that is fairly sheltered from strong winds. Some shady spots are ok and actually not a bad idea for leafy veg, so don’t worry if you don’t have a perfectly sunny spot.
  2. If you’re going to be growing in pots and containers:
    You can grow a lot of veg in pots and containers and almost anything can be upcycled into a suitable container – an old wheelbarrow, an old bucket, stacks of tyres – so you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on pots.

    Try to get an assorted collection if different sizes, some deeper, some wider, some shallower as this will enable you to grow your crops according to pot shape/size.

    Make sure your containers have good drainage with a couple of holes at the base for water to escape. It’s always a good idea to put a few medium sized stones or broken crocks at the base before filling with compost as this helps drainage even more.

  3. If you plan to grow in beds:
    Whether you are going for raised beds or beds in the ground (they are both perfectly good ways of growing veg) we would advise keeping the width of the bed under 1.5m so that you can easily reach into the centre from both sides without trampling on the soil. Length can be whatever you like, but bear in mind it can be irritating to have to walk all the way around a particularly long bed and you’ll be tempted to nip across the middle, thus compacting the soil. Try to keep them to 2-4m long.

    Raised beds can be as high as you like – the taller they are, the more soil and compost you’ll need to fill them in, but the easier they will be to maintain and keep pest free.

  4. If you plan on growing in rows in a big patch of space:
    This is quite a popular method of growing and the key is to use wooden planks as walkways between rows so that you can access your veg and get in to weed and dig without compacting the soil.
  5. How to clear space of weeds
    The best and easiest way to clear an area of weed before growing veg is to cover it for a year to starve them of light. If you haven’t been able to do this and want to get going this year then we’d recommend putting in a raised bed. First, dig the area over (when the soil is not too dry/hard) and pull up the biggest weeds making sure you get the roots out. Build your raised bed frame and lay a sheet or two of cardboard inside the bed right over the top of the soil before filling the bed up with compost. This will help to prevent the weeds growing back through the compost, and the cardboard will decompose.
  6. What can I grow in pots?
    Pretty much anything! In fact, we struggle to think of anything that you CAN’T grow in pots. The only thing is to be aware of the depth and width of the pot and whether it is suitable for the crop you wish to grow. Root veg and tubers need deeper containers, leafier veg will be fine in shallower pots, and space-saving veg like spring onions, beetroot and leeks can be packed in quite closely in wider pots.

Hopefully this gives you the very basics of getting a veg plot on the go. The key is to remember this: As long as there is soil, sunlight and water plants will grow, so don’t be afraid to make a veg patch using only grow bags and pots, or to simply dig a small bed in your back garden. Just give it a go and start small…