Quick growing vegetables for easy gardening

Fresh homegrown chard

There is nothing like growing and harvesting your own garden grown vegetables and it isn’t difficult to do. Even better is that many spring and summer vegetables grow and ripen quickly, so you don’t have to wait too long to reap the rewards! The other benefit of these quick growing vegetables is that you can often get another one or two sowings in during the season to take you right into autumn.

Whatever the size of your garden, you don’t need lots of space and most can be happily sown directly in the earth, in a raised bed or in a variety of containers on their own or with other flowering plants and herbs.

When planting in the ground, make sure the earth is prepared by digging and raking the plot to ensure that the earth is fine, weed free and even. Add some organic fertiliser to make sure the soil has the necessary nutrients to help your vegetables grow healthily.

Raised beds by nature require no digging, just a fresh layer of compost. Containers should be deep enough to allow for root growth, have good drainage and be filled with a good quality, multipurpose compost.

Seeds can be sown outside once the weather has improved, all risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. To get a head start, they can be sown earlier under cover.

Here are a few quick growing vegetables to get you started:

 

Baby salad leaves

Homegrown salad

You could be enjoying a variety of baby salad leaves just three to four weeks after sprinkling your seeds in a container. Baby leaf seeds are often sold as a mixture of seeds, offering a diverse range of colours, textures and flavours from one pot. Cut young, they are highly nutritious and a lot cheaper than buying bags of salad from the supermarket. Not only that, the plants will continue to grow if you pick only a few leaves from each plant at a time, so you can keep going back for more. Continued sowings will provide leaves through to autumn outside.

When and how to sow:

These types of seed do better in a container with some drainage holes. Simply fill the container with a seed growing compost and sprinkle seeds sparingly in shallow 1cm drills about 10-15cm apart, cover with compost and pat down. Water in the seeds and keep the compost damp but not soggy. Keep the container in a sunny or partially shaded spot.

Growing and harvesting:

Once the plants are big enough to handle, thin them out to give them room to grow by removing some of the plants in order that each has 10cm around it. You may be able to replant the seedlings you remove into another pot! Move into shade in particularly hot weather and regularly pick the leaves to prevent the plants going to seed.

 

 

Radishes

Homegrown radishes

Radishes are one of the fastest growing crops, maturing from seed in around four weeks. By continually re-sowing you will be feasting on crunchy, peppery jewels throughout the growing season. There are many varieties to choose from depending on whether you like your radishes blue or red, cool or red hot!

When and how to sow:

Radishes do equally well in the ground, raised beds or in containers. Sow the seeds about 4cm apart and about 1cm deep. Once the seedlings start to grow, check for those that are too close together and thin out.

Growing and harvesting:

Keep the compost damp but not too wet to encourage the roots to grow rather than the leaves. Radishes prefer a slightly shaded spot. Harvest when the radishes are still young at about four weeks after sowing, or they will get bitter and woody. Re-sow your next batch!

 

 

Spinach

Homegrown spinach

Spinach is a very versatile quick growing plant, ready to pick and use in around thirty days.

When and how to sow:

Sow seeds sparingly in 1cm deep drills about 30 cm apart and water in. Once the seedlings can be handled, thin them out and rearrange at around 20cm apart.

Growing and harvesting:

Keep the earth moist, provide shade in particularly hot weather and regularly pick the young leaves to prevent the plants going to seed for as long as possible. They will ultimately bolt, at which point, remove the plants and make a new sowing.

 

 

Carrots

Homegrown purple carrots

Small carrot varieties, bred specifically for container growing, can be harvested in about 6-8 weeks after sowing. Similarly, certain regular carrots can be harvested as “baby carrots” rather than leaving them to grow bigger. When growing in a container it is important to be deep enough for the soil to remain moist and the carrots to grow! If soil planting, it is important that the soil is as fine as possible to allow the roots to grow straight. For heavy, clay soils, it is best to choose mini varieties.

When and how to sow:

Sow the seeds about 1cm deep at a spacing of around 5-8cm, then water in well. The seedlings will take about 3 weeks to appear in warm weather when they can be thinned out if necessary.

Growing and harvesting:

Keep the earth moist and keep an eye out for pests such as carrot fly, whose larvae burrow into the roots. Placing a cover over the seeds as they germinate can help to deter them. Dig up a few carrots after six weeks to test if they are ready!

 

 

Peas and Beans

Homegrown peas

Although taking two months or more from sowing to picking, these plants do grow quickly, providing height and interest, often with very pretty flowers. Runner beans, for example, were first introduced to the UK for their flowers not their beans! An eye-catching container can be created by growing a pea or bean plant up a wigwam of sticks, with herbs, vegetables or flowers planted at the base.

When and how to sow:

Simply push a pea or bean seed into prepared soil or compost ensuring a distance between seeds of around 40cm – which means only one per container. It’s often a good idea to plant two seeds and remove the weakest seedling. Water in and wait.

Growing and harvesting:

Peas and beans need support as they grow. An easy method is to fix netting to cane wigwams singly in containers or in tent-like rows if being grown in the soil or raised bed. Beans require more watering and feeding than peas, which are happier and healthier if the soil is on the drier side.

Regularly pick the pods whilst still young and tender to encourage further fruiting.

 

Finally, as satisfying as growing vegetables from seed is, there is a way to create instant interest and potential without the hassle. It is now very easy to find a wide variety of seedlings and part grown vegetable plants in garden centres, farmers markets and car boot sales. In this instance you need only replant where needed in prepared soil or containers in late spring/early summer and then feed, water and stake as necessary. Having eliminated the seed to seedling time, you will be enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labours pretty quickly!

27 Apr 18