Top of the crops – the best six veg to grow on an allotment or veg patch

So, you’ve got your plot, or your patch, or even a few pots. But having watched The Big Allotment Challenge, you still don’t have a clue what to grow, or how to grow it.

So for what it’s worth, here are my top six crops for beginners (or even experts, though I doubt any of those are reading.) Obviously, if you don’t like any of the veg I’ve included, don’t grow them. The number one rule of veg growing is grow something that tickles your tastebuds.

1.Courgettes.  courgette plantTwo or three plants and you’ll have more than you (and your neighbours) know what to do with. Start them off indoors – NOW – if you haven’t already done so. As the plants grow move them into bigger pots so they don’t get rootbound and when all chance of frost has passed, plant them into their final positions in the ground. Obviously, a late frost is always a possibility, but I would say anytime from June should be ok. It’s also a good idea to ‘harden off’ any plants which have been grown indoors, before planting them outdoors. This just means putting the pots outdoors during the day for a week so the plants get used to the cold, then bring them in at night.  Courgettes need plenty of water, but that’s about it once they’re established.

2. Beetroot  Simply sow the seeds straight into the ground in rows, anytime from now, and then just let them do their thing. Couldn’t be easier to grow and full of health benefits too.  Harvest them from golf ball size onwards.  Just don’t be alarmed when your wee turns pink!

3. Carrots. carrotsA good one if you have kids as most kids like carrots and even the fussiest of eaters can often be persuaded to try a one, especially if they’ve pulled it from the ground themselves.   You can even get purple ones for a bit of carrot-glam.  First, rake the soil, removing any stones, then scatter the seed thinly in rows. If possible, cover with netting to ward off carrot fly. Planting garlic or chives nearby will also help keep those buggers away.

4. Squash / pumpkins. pumpkinThere are endless varieties to try, depending on your space and taste.  For flavour, I like butternut squash, but there are loads of other weird and wonderful specimens . Mini pumpkins like Baby Bear are particularly cute.  Plant seeds in pots now and transplant out when big enough to handle and when risk of frost has past, hardening off first, as for courgettes.

5. French beans. That’s french, not runner. There are two general varieties: climbing and dwarf. I don’t really see the point of dwarf ones as climbing ones taste just as good, but you get hundreds more. They don’t even take up any more space on the ground as they grow upwards. My favourite varieties are Blue Lake and Cobra.  Start off seeds indoors now, if you haven’t already done so, then plant outside from early June if you live in the South, a bit later if you live in the North, or Scotland, using bamboo canes for support.

6. Tomatoes.  Bit of a controversial one this, as tomatoes can actually be a bit tricky to grow, especially if you’re a perfectionist. If you’re not, read on.

The easiest tomatoes to grow are the bush varieties, as they don’t need staking and pinching out like cordoning varieties. Good ones to try are Gardener’s Delight and Tumbling Tom, both cherry varieties.

Sow seeds from March to May in pots of compost.  Plant out when risk of frost has passed. Tomatoes need regular watering and feeding. For extra sweet results, try making your own nettle tea by soaking nettle leaves in water. It’s organic and free.

That’s it folks. Feel free to suggest alternatives below.

About Becky Dickinson

Mum of three. Writer, blogger, grower. Trying to keep my head above the compost heap.

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  1. Salad leaves and things like pea shoots are very quick and easy to grow, and nice to be able to pick a few leaves fresh every day. And it’s not veg, but strawberries are simple and delicious, I’d definitely recommend them as a starter thing. I like your choices, they are all things I (try to) grow. Some with less success than others (carrots, I’m thinking of you). Even the few that germinate tend to completely disappear in the night.

  2. Hi CJ, I’m definitely with you on the strawberries. Love them! Also, raspberries which I think are even easier to grow. I wanted to include salad but I lose about 98 percent of mine to slugs which is gutting. Have tried everything (except pellets which I don’t use) – how do you manage to keep slugs away from yours?
    Wonder what’s happening to your carrots? I always net mine as I think that really helps. Trying germinating at different times of the year – maybe the later ones will work better.

    • The short answer is I lose a lot of mine to slugs as well, although the slugs to seem to come in waves. Sometimes a whole row of lettuces will disappear overnight, sometimes most of them survive. I’ve got a whole big pot of ground up eggshells that I sprinkle about, I think it might help a bit.

  3. Well so far I’ve got going with courgettes, tomatoes, sweetcorn and lettuce – all growing in pots indoors at the moment, but when it gets warmer and far less risk of frost, outside they will go. Good idea to season them to the outside. I love courgette plants… they are bonkers! :o)

  4. we had carrots last year but i guess we forgot about them this year. 🙂 our tomatoes however are the best i have had

  5. i think you havepicked the best there also good ones for kids to grow

  6. Most excited to see most of what I have just planted on that list *phew* – Rocket too grows like a demon – salad fiends here!

    Hope you enjoyed your time away ? xx

    (and it goes-without-saying-but-won-t-go-without-saying thank you for joining in)

  7. Really helpful! I have potted plants that I bring out during the day and bring in during the night. I didnt know I am doing the right thing but my gosal really is for them to get sunlight as its gloomy inside the house. #HDYGG

  8. Some good tips and info! I’d love to grow squash in the garden as it’s one of my favourite vegetables. Sadly I can’t grow tomatoes this year because we’ve moved and there’s no enough sun in the garden 🙁

  9. I love that programme, sadly I missed it this week. Great tips you’ve listed. I gave up trying to grow pumkins or squash as the need so much room. #hdygg

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