Allotment, Container Gardening, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Planting, Watering, Weeding

Eating vegetables you’ve grown yourself can be really satisfying. Not only is it healthier and cheaper, but it can taste better, and it’s more eco friendly. The hardest part of learning to grow your own is knowing how to start your first plot. In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to start your vegetable patch successfully.  

Pick the right location.

The location of your vegetable patch is key to growing good fruit.  The best place  will have: 

    • 6 hours of sun –  your vegetable plot will need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. You should also avoid setting up under a tree or in the shadow of your home. 
    • Moist, well-drained soil –  water pools in badly drained soil and this can end up killing your plants. Consider using a raised bed or raking your soil to get better drainage. 
    • Calm spot  –  avoid places that receive strong winds that could knock over your plants or keep pollinators away. Try to avoid areas with high footfall and places that are known to flood. 
    • Have a nearby water source –  your vegetables will need a lot of water before they are ready to harvest. You should place your plot near an outdoor tap or water source if you don’t want to carry it all. Consider setting up a water butt closeby is possible.

Choose a plot size

How big should your first vegetable patch be? For a beginner, we would suggest starting small and manageable. You need around 200 sq. ft (about the size of a one-car garage) to feed one person for most of the year. If you can start with this size, great, but a veg trug or small raised bed can also get great results. For more control or if you are only looking to dip your hand into home growing, why not consider starting by growing your veg in a container. 

Set up your Plot 

© Copyright David Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Before you start planting your first veggies, you should take a few steps to make sure you are planting them in the best conditions possible. 

  • Remove any weeds
  • Dig over the soil to about one spade deep
  • Break up the soil to aerate – remove any stones or weed stems
  • If using a raised bed fill will good quality well-draining soil

Now your soil is ready, divide your bed into sections (you can mark these out with string if you want). Try to keep one crop in each section and stagger them between sowing, growing, harvesting and being empty to get a constant yield. 

Choose your crops 

Knowing what to grow in your first vegetable patch can be difficult as there are lots of choices. 

Good vegetables for beginners to grow

TomatoesGreen beansChard
CourgettesLettuceSpinach
PeppersBeetrootKale
CabbageCarrotsRadish


But ultimately the decision is up to you. No matter what you want to plant always consider a few things before making your choice. 

  • Choose what you (and your family) like to eat –  If no one likes brussels sprouts, don’t bother planting them. But if your love green beans, put more effort towards growing a big crop of beans and nothing goes to waste.
  • Be realistic about how many vegetables your family will eat –  Be careful not to overplant, as you will find yourself with too many plants on your hands. 
  • Consider whats in the shops – Your favourite veg not in your local shop? Why not grow them instead of carrots and tomatoes. Also, homegrown herbs are far less expensive than those you buy in-store.
  • Growing times –  Planning a summer holiday? Some veg like tomatoes and courgette grow strongest in the middle of summer. If you’re gone, you will need someone to look after them, or they will suffer. You can also grow cool-season crops such as lettuce, kale, peas, and root veg during the cooler months of late spring and early fall.

Where and when to plant

The success of your vegetable patch will depend a lot on when and where you plant your vegetables. 

  1. Plant for the season – There are “cool-season” vegetables that grow in spring (e.g., lettuce, spinach, root veg) and “warm-season” vegetables that aren’t planted until the soil warms up (e.g., tomatoes & peppers). Plant cool-season crops after spring frost and warm-season crops in the same area later in the season.
  2. Plant tall vegetables on the north side of the garden –  So they don’t shade shorter plants. If you do get shade in a part of your garden, save that area for small, cool-season plants. 
  3. Annual or Perennial – Most vegetables are annual (planted each year). Asparagus, rhubarb, and some herbs are perennial. If you’re planning on growing, these make sure you provide permanent locations or beds.
  4. Maturation time – Some crops mature quickly and have a very short harvest period (radishes, beans). Other plants, such as tomatoes, take longer to produce but will do so for longer. These times are usually listed on the packet, and you should aim for a combination of both. 
  5. Stagger plantings – If you want a constant supply of vegetables, you don’t want to plant all your seeds simultaneously, or they will need to be harvested at around the same time!. Stagger plantings by a few weeks to keep a constant supply. 

Planting your vegetables

You have a couple of choices regarding getting new plants to grow in your garden; you can buy nursery plants ready to go or grow from seed. Each has its own advantages. 

Starting From Seed Nursery Plants 
Cheaper Less work 
Can control how your plant is grown from the start Easier to grow
More Varieties to choose fromTakes up less space 

Nursery Plants: 

Planting a nursery plant is simple. Follow the instructions on the plant label, and you’re ready to go, be careful to give each plant enough space to grow in the future. 

Growing Vegetables from seed: 

Growing from seed can take more time, but you have much more control over how your plants end up. Starting your plants indoors gives them a higher survival rate than those grown indoors.  

Top tips

  1. Make sure your containers have drainage holes – You can use recycled pots, egg boxes or yoghurt pots. Seed trays and flats are good choices and can be reused year after year. Biodegradable pots are great too. 
  2. Plant seeds at the proper depth – Check the seed packet for planting depth. Be careful not to plant any deeper than the directions – a good rule is to plant the two-to-three times as deep as the seed is wide.
  3. After sowing, put your container somewhere warm – On top of a fridge or near a radiator are good spots. Check your pots every day for signs of growth. 
  4. Keep seed-starting mix moist – Seedling roots need both air and water. Keep the mix moist but not wet.
  5. As soon as seedlings emerge, place pots in a bright location at room temperature – A sunny window will do
  6. Once seedlings have two sets of leaves thin out – You want one seedling per pot. Choose the healthiest, strongest-looking seedling to keep.
  7. Plant outside when you have three of four full-sized leaves.

Vegetable Care Tips 

Fertilize 

 Use a diluted all-purpose fertilizer before planting and once in the middle of the growing season.

Mulching 

Apply mulch in the spring after the soil has warmed

Watering

Getting your watering right is a key skill in getting your vegetables to grow as well as they can. A moisture meter is a handy way to help yourself out. It also helps to know the signs of under or overwatering. 

You’ve underwatered if: You’ve overwatered if: 
Dry soil around the stems There is soaked soil around plant stems.
Stunted Growth Mould or moss is growing on the soil.
WiltingWilting
Dead Leaves Yellowing of leaves
Brown Leaves Dead leaf margins

Common pests and how to treat them 

 

AphidSmall sap-sucking insects that can be found on the leaves of your plant. Spray with a steady stream of water or plant safe soap. You can also release predatory insects such as ladybugs or prune off the most heavily infected leaves.
Cabbage WormBest Picked off by hand and use a floating row cover to keep the adults from laying eggs on crops. 
Corn EarwormTilling in the spring and autumn will expose pupae to predators, weather and wind. Pesticides will also work.
Cucumber BeetleHandpick beetles frequently. Adults can be sprayed with a botanical insecticide. After harvest, remove garden debris to reduce sites for overwintering.
CutwormUse toilet roll tubes to make collars and place around the stems of seedlings ( half above and half below the soil). Beneficial nematodes can be added to the soil and hand remove caterpillars after dark.
Flea BeetleTo avoid peak populations of flea beetles, avoid planting your crops until later in the season. Add beneficial nematodes to the soil and use floating row covers to keep pests off plants.
Slug & SnailEdge garden beds with copper tape to deter slugs and snails. Shallow pans of beer placed in the garden will trap them, then collect and destroy daily.
Squash BugCheck the undersides of leaves, and hand remove squash bugs. Keep plants off the ground with trellises. If the infestation gets too bad, use floating row covers and a botanical insecticide.
Tomato HornwormCheck the leaves for large green caterpillars) and hand remove. Till gardens in the fall to destroy pupae in the soil.

Diseases

Wet weather, inadequate air and low and poor drainage are all causes of plant disease. You can prevent disease on your vegetables by

  • Choosing disease-resistant plants 
  • Water and fertilize plants properly.
  • Rotate crops
  • Keep your growing area clean.

Some common diseases include: 

Bacterial Leaf Spot: Mostly affecting cabbage-family crops, peppers and tomatoes. Infected foliage has small, dark brown or black water-soaked spots. These spots will dry up and crack, leaving holes and leaves may drop prematurely. Apply copper-based fungicides every 7-days when symptoms first appear to prevent from spreading. Control can be difficult in wet weather.

Clubroot: Caused by a soil-inhabiting fungus and infecting cabbage-family plants (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage). Infected plants have swollen, misshapen roots and wilt in the heat. Older leaves turn yellow or drop off. Plant disease-resistant varieties and rotate vegetable crops.

Common Rust: Reddish-brown powdery spots that rub off when touched appear on leaves. Prune plants and remove weeds to provide good air circulation. Hand-pick infected leaves and remove and destroy seriously affected plants. Apply sulfur fungicides to plants early to prevent infection or to keep light problems from spreading.

Late Blight: Mostly affecting tomato and potato plants, this disease appears late in the growing season. Look for water-soaked, grey-green spots on leaves. As the disease matures a white fungal growth may form on the undersides. Select resistant varieties when available and dispose of all infected plant parts. Water in the morning to give plants time to dry out during the day. Copper sprays can suppress some outbreaks.

Mosaic Virus: This disease appears as mottled green or yellowish coloured plant tissue. Plant growth is often stunted, and leaves may curl. There is no cure for the mosaic virus so remove infected plants immediately. Plant disease-resistant crops and reduce the number of disease-carrying insects (aphids, leafhoppers) can spread the virus. 

Wilts: Affecting many vegetable plants, causes wilting and yellow blotches on the lower leaves. Choose resistant varieties when available and control garden insects, such as cucumber beetles, who are known to spread the disease.

It can be a steep learning curve when first learning how to plant your own vegetables, but as soon as you harvest and cook with your first crop, you will realise how satisfying it can be and be hooked. Find everything you need for a successful home garden here. We’d love to see what you’re doing with your home garden so let us know how your homegrown vegetables are doing on Facebook or send us a picture on Instagram with the hashtag#MyPrimroseGarden for a chance to be featured.

Allotment, Composting, Gardening, Grow Your Own

Every garden can benefit from a compost heap. Good compost will help your flowers grow more vibrant and your veg produce more food   – its also a fantastic way to reduce your household waste. This guide will give you everything you need to be composting like a pro in no time. 

Step1 – Choose A Compost Bin

 

There are loads of different ones out there, so there will be something you’ll like. Just make sure you choose one that suits how you are going to use it.

Plastic – A good beginner option, most plastic compost bins come with lockable lids to keep pests out. However, they don’t get quite as good air circulation or heat distribution of other types. Great for the beginner or gardener who just wants to give their plants a boost.

Wooden – These open-topped bins give good air circulation and heat distribution which helps to kill pathogens. However, if not treated correctly, the wood will eventually rot and need to replace.

Compost tumblers – These bins speed the process up a bit and are a good choice for people who have reduced mobility. Put your materials in the bin and turn a few times a week. They won’t produce as much compost as other styles, but you will get it quicker.  

Wormeries – These are great for smaller or indoor spaces since the worms do all the work. The best option if you live in a flat or have limited space and still produce nutrient-rich compost. May not be the best option if you don’t like worms and they can give off a strong smell at times. 

Shop all compost bins.

 

Step 2 – Find the right place fo your compost bin.

You should put your compost bin in a dry, well-drained place that is easily accessible year-round. Put over bare soil rather than concrete or paving to let worms and other beneficial organisms into the pile. You should also remove any grass or plants and turn t 6 – 8 inches of soil below the bin with a fork. For a wormery, follow the manufacturer’s guidance on placement.  

Step 3 – Know what can and can’t be composted. 

Composting materials can be broken down into two types – Green and Brown. You need both to get good results.

Green  grass clippings, fresh manure, vegetable trimmings and most green plant cuttings

Brown – leaves, hay, straw and paper

We’ve put together an at-a-glance guide to what you can or can’t compost in your garden. Feel free to print it off and hang it up to give you a hand.  

Download here: Primrose Composting Guide

 

Step 4 – Start your compost.

Making compost is like layering a cake. Just make sure you moisten each layer with the mist setting of a garden hose or spray bottle. To get started: 

  1. Line your bin with around 4 inches of twigs, hay and straw (for smaller bins see the manufacturers instructions for guidance)
  2. Add the same sized layer of brown material and cover with a thin layer of soil. 
  3.  Add the same sized layer of green material and cover with a thin layer of soil.
  4. Keep adding alternating layers of green and brown material until the bin is full.
  5. Aerate your compost with a shovel or fork every three to four days.

Step 5 – Use your compost.

When your compost has turned dark with a crumbly texture and takes on an earthy aroma, it’s ready to use. Compost can take between three to six months to be ready, but the longer you leave it, the better it will be. 

Dig out your compost as you need it and give your plants and homegrown produce a good boost. 

 

We have everything you need to get started with a great compost heap, why not take a look now.

 

 

 

 

Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Flowers, Gardening Year, Grow Your Own, Plants

This year we’ve created a collection of Christmas gifts that will fuel a passion for gardening year-round. With over 140 fabulous gifts just a click away this year is all about treating the gardener in your life.  So, if they’re new to the game or an old hat you will find they’ll love. 

 Stocking fillers for everyone

Who doesn’t love a little something in their stocking? These small gifts are perfect little treats to open on Christmas Day.

Winter Warmers 

Keep your feet and hands warm for winter walks or gardening outdoors.

Battery operated heated gloves

£14.99 

Battery heated Socks

£29.00

Battery Heated Insoles

£9.99

Grow Your Own Seed Kits

 Ignite a passion for gardening this year with Plant Theory. Our eco-friendly and easy to grow seed kits are the ideal introduction to growing your own. 

Grow Your own Purple Veg Seed Kit 

£14.99

Grow Your Own Zesty Herb Seed Kit

£19.99

Grow Your Own Chilli Seed Kit

£14.99

 

Thoughtful Gifts For Friends and Family

Know someone who deserves a treat this Christmas? Why not gift them one of our wonderful hampers or Christmas baskets. 

Indulgent Hampers 

 Start as you mean to go on with silky chocolate treats, sweet chutneys and well-bodied wines – the best that Christmas has to offer. 

The Big Christmas Gift Hamper

£99.99

 

The Family Christmas Hamper

£49.99

 Red Wine and Treats Gift Hamper

£57.99

Hampers For Every Diet 

Packed with the tastiest gluten and sugar-free treats, these hampers cater for everyone. 

Gluten-Free Goodies Gift Hamper

£44.99

Diabetic Snacks Gift Hamper

£28.99 

Alcohol-Free Nibbles Gift Hamper

£29.99

Floral Gifts

Show someone you care with the gift of flowers this year.

Gaultheria Christmas Robin

£22.99

Large Christmas Flower Basket

£29.99

Gaultheria Christmas Reindeer

£22.99

Gifts for the garden

Know someone who can’t stay out of the garden? These are the ideal gifts for them.

‘Geisha Purple’ Evergreen Azalea

£17.99

Colour Changing Solar Light

£8.99

Pink Wellie Planter

£29.99

4 Seasons Mini Lemon Tree

£39.99

Shop all  gifts

Presents for new gardeners

Give your green-fingered friends a great start to their spring and a gift they will love year-round. 

Copper Plated Watering Can

£29.99

Copper Trowel

£33.99

Copper Dibber

£35.99

Decorative Dog Sprinkler

£13.99

Medium Gardening Glove

£13.99

6 Pocket Wall Planter

£11.9

Shop all garden tools 

Gifts for wildlife lovers

february garden birds

A wildlife-friendly garden can attract all sorts of animals from squirrels, rabbits and hedgehogs. Encourage these furry friends into the garden with houses and feeders so you can enjoy watching their antics year-round.

Birds 

Our fantastic bird care gifts bring life into your garden and help our feathered friends raise healthy chicks and thrive throughout the year. 

Small Bird Gift Box

£27.99

Natural Log Nesting Box

£25.99

Cottage Bird House

£29.99

 

Copper Peanut Feeder

£24.99

Cottage Bird House

£29.99

Copper Seed Feeder

£24.99

Shop all bird care

Hedgehogs

Give Hedgehogs a space to hibernate and shelter from harsh weather with a hog house.

Hedgehog House Care Pack 

£37.99

Wooden Hogitat

£63.99

Shop all hedgehog homes

Bees

These little pollinators are great for keeping your garden in good health, but their numbers have been in decline in recent years. Our nesting houses and conservation kits help to keep your garden lively by helping bees thrive. 

Bumblebee Nester

£44.99

Bee Care Gift Set

£49.99

Bee Nesting House 

£18.99

View all bee care

 Gifts for houseplant lovers

 

Houseplants bring life and colour to a home. They lift the mood, purify the air and create a calm atmosphere. Know someone who adores houseplants or who could do with a few more? Then our houseplant collection is a good place to start. 

For the lounge or dining room

These plants love light, need little care, and pack a visual punch.

Dieffenbachia ‘Reflector’

£14.99

Fatsia Japonica 

£29.99

Philodendron Scandens

£13.99

Satin Pothos 

£14.99

Calathea ‘Ornata’

£29.99

Bonsai Tea Tree in Buddha Pot

£20.00

Kitchen & bathroom

These tropical plants love humidity and bring bold colour and fascinating shapes into your kitchen or bathroom. 

Tropical Pitcher Plant

£29.99

Croton Colour Collection 

£14.99

Fern Starter Collection

£14.99

Ficus lyrata

£79.99

Croton ‘Pictum’

£5.99

Brake Fern

£5.99

For more great gift ideas visit our complete gift collection.

 

Flowers, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants

A-guide-to-jasmine-plant-care

Noted for their sweetly scented blooms and exquisite foliage, Jasmine plants have been long adored by gardeners. Flourishing in both sun and part shade, Jasmine varieties can enshroud a trellis with a floral blanket, be pruned into a decorative hedge, and even be grown indoors. Despite such versatility however, Jasmine plants still warrant vigilant care. Whether you are considering getting a Jasmine plant, or already have one, this guide covers everything you need to know on Jasmine plant care. 

How to Plant Jasmine

Before you plant your Jasmine, you should seek a warm, sheltered site that receives full sun or part shade. Different species of Jasmine may prefer one or the other. For example, Winter Jasmine is better suited to a south east or north west aspect, while Summer Jasmine will thrive in a sunny south-facing aspect. 

If you are planting your Jasmine straight in your garden, opt for an area with moist, well-drained soil. If the soil appears too rich, add some grit to the planting hole to boost drainage. It is also important that your Jasmine is planted in fertile soil, so we advise you to supplement with compost or well-rotted manure. Taking no more than a handful, sprinkle some compost or manure in the planting hole. By doing this, your Jasmine’s roots can enjoy a steady supply of nutrients. 

A useful thing to know about Jasmine plant care is that an attentive, watchful approach is always best. Jasmine plants are low maintenance and typically don’t fall victim to pests and disease. However, it is essential that you establish their desired habit of growth early on. 

To train your Jasmine to climb up a wall or fence, angle a cane so that it’s leaning on a trellis. Once your Jasmine has reached a height that matches this structure, it can continue to climb upwards. This is caused by arising chemical changes which result in their stems intertwining with the trellis. 

If you are planting your Jasmine in a pot, a cane can again be used to promote a tall, upward habit. Depending on the look you wish to achieve, a compact, bushier look can be created by regular pruning. 

How to Care for Jasmine

A-guide-to-jasmine-plant-care

Once your Jasmine has been planted, you should apply a high-potash feed once a week in summer. This will encourage healthy foliage and flowers, and additionally mitigate any risks of pests and disease. Nevertheless, be cautious when feeding, as too much can result in overly lush growth (and a higher amount of nitrogen hinders blooming). Your Jasmine plant should also be watered regularly during its growing season, and come autumn, it is beneficial to mulch around the base of your Jasmine. This can be done with well-rotted manure, leaf mould, or compost.

A crucial part of Jasmine plant care is pruning; this promotes healthy growth and maintains a desirable shape. It also deters bothersome pests (particularly infestations that are caused by animals). 

It is best to prune right after your Jasmine has flowered, as this allows maximum time for the vines to establish new growth for the next year of flowering. As young Jasmine plants are shy bloomers, you should avoid pruning too drastically. Try to spare as much of your plant as possible (there’s no harm in letting your young Jasmine plant grow a little freely). We simply advise that you:

  • Remove any stems that appear diseased or dead (if older appearing stems are no longer showing signs of flowering, they can also be removed). 
  • You can also remove heavily tangled stems, and carefully separate lightly tangled stems to maintain manageability. 
  • Remove stems that are growing away from your desired direction, or shorten them to create a compact appearance. 

Jasmine Plant Care: Common Questions

A-guide-to-jasmine-plant-care

Does Jasmine need a trellis?

In order to climb, your Jasmine plant will need a supporting structure. This is most commonly a trellis. Jasmine plants cannot climb a wall, but when trained to a trellis, they can grow up to two metres in a single season! If you do not want your Jasmine to climb, it will happily grow in a pot. Why not have it as a house plant to enjoy the heavenly scent indoors?

Do Jasmine plants lose their leaves in winter?

Jasmine plants can either be deciduous, or semi-evergreen (if they are growing in milder climates). It is probable that your Jasmine plant will lose leaves at some point, and this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. If your Jasmine’s leaves are beginning to dry up and fall off however, you are likely under-watering. 

Can I propagate my Jasmine plant? 

Yes, your Jasmine can propagated from hardwood cuttings taken in wintertime. To do so, collect 15cm cuttings from the stem tips of your Jasmine plant (each one should be cut below a leaf). You can also propagate your Jasmine by planting any seeds it produces. 

When should I plant my Jasmine?

You can begin growing Summer Jasmine in spring or autumn, and Winter Jasmine in autumn or winter. The care for both Summer and Winter Jasmine will be the same (but always factor in their differing flowering periods). 

Should I deadhead my Jasmine plant?

Yes, it is wise to remove any spent blooms from your Jasmine plant. The flowers can be pinched off, but why not use them for herbal tea making or fragrant floral arrangements? 

Is Winter Jasmine a Shrub?

Winter and Summer Jasmine are of a different species. Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is classified as a winter flowering shrub, while Summer or Common Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is recognised as a vine, and flowers from summer through to autumn.