This year marks 20 years since the start of National Allotment Week. The campaign began in 2002 to raise awareness of allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, grow their own food, and improve communities. This year the awareness week takes place between 8 and 14 August.
This year the theme is “Bugs, Bees, and Broccoli”. There are more than 250,000 allotments across the country, but you don’t have to have one to embrace this year’s theme and start to grow delicious vegetables in your own outdoor space.
Growing your own vegetables is positive for many reasons, from supporting the environment to getting active while you tend to the plants. There are plenty of options for growing produce in the UK, here are seven that you could plant.
Lettuce is a versatile food that you can get a lot of use out of once they’ve grown, and there are several varieties to choose from.
The good news is that they’re easy to grow, both indoors and outdoors. They need plenty of sunshine, so choose a sunny patch in your garden or a windowsill that benefits from the light, and water. It will take around 30 days for lettuce to be ready to harvest.
Romaine lettuce is one of the easiest types to grow, and other options like iceberg or round are still good for beginner gardeners.
Carrots are packed full of nutrients and vitamins. They’re simple to grow and will be ready to harvest in just a couple of months.
You can plant carrots either in late winter or early spring and they’ll need fertile soil that’s been cleared of stones and weeds. Once they’re planted though, carrots require little maintenance, and the rough leaves will start to show within a few weeks.
3. Runner beans
Runner beans need little care or attention, and once you’ve planted a few, you can have an almost continuous supply during the harvest season.
If you’ll be planting them outside, you can do so from the end of May. Runner beans need support to grow up, whether canes, trellises, or the side of your shed. Once they reach the top of the support, trim the tip and the runner beans will start to branch out.
Don’t let the soil dry out and you’ll have plenty of runner beans to add to your meals.
Onions are used in so many dishes that if you’re a food enthusiast adding these to your garden is essential.
If you don’t want to make daily watering and care part of your routine, onions are perfect as they require little maintenance compared to other options. Ideally, you should plant the seeds in January or February. Then it will take several months for them to be ready to harvest, but other than a bit of weeding, there’s little to do while you wait.
Whether you prefer roast or mashed potatoes, they are a great choice for growing in your own garden.
Traditionally, planting potatoes would mean digging a narrow trench around 12cm deep, but you don’t have to dedicate a patch of your garden to them. They can grow in pots or even large old bags, like a compost bag.
You can plant them from March to June, and some varieties even sooner. Smaller new potatoes can be ready in as little as 10 weeks, while full-sized potatoes will take around 12 weeks.
A greenhouse means you can grow tomatoes all year in the UK. However, you can also grow tomatoes indoors or outside during the summer months.
They’re a great choice if you want to cook a variety of food with the vegetables you grow, you could add them to a salad or make a delicious pasta sauce.
When you sow tomatoes seeds you should see seedlings start to appear within two weeks, and they’ll be large enough to move to separate pots in around eight weeks. Make sure you water them regularly and place them in a spot that will get plenty of warmth and sunlight.
Peas thrive in colder climates, so they’re perfect for unpredictable British weather.
You should plant peas in early summer and, again, can do so indoors or outdoors. They take around three months to harvest. You will need to use bamboo canes or other support to help the plant grow. For them to thrive, plant them in a spot with direct sunlight and water them around once a week.