Have you ever thought about starting your own vegetable garden in Ireland? Simple tips on how to start and what to grow first.
In recent years, gardening has been on the rise as people have been looking for ways to reconnect with nature. In Ireland alone, there are now more than 800 registered allotments! In this guide, we'll cover some of the best reasons why you might want to grow your own vegetables in Ireland.
Growing your own vegetables can be a very rewarding experience and it's not just about saving money on groceries - there are many other benefits that come with it.
In this brief gardening article, we discuss growing some Irish Favourites such as beetroot, carrots, parsnips, onions, and lettuce. Good advice is to try to grow vegetables that you will be excited about eating. We will bring you some beginners tips on how to get started and what to expect in your first year of gardening.
How do I prepare a garden space to grow vegetables?
The first step to planting a garden is to prepare the soil. This will give your vegetables the best chance of success. You should remove any weeds or grasses that are currently growing in the space and add organic fertilizers like compost or manure to enrich the soil with nutrients for plant growth. Then you'll need to decide what kind of garden bed you want to use, typically a corner in the garden, a polytunnel or a series of raised beds.
Here are some quick guidelines for making the perfect vegetable patch:
- A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you have at least 20 square feet for each adult in your household. This is more than enough space to allow for enough space for all different types of vegetables.
- Be sure to have enough space between rows so that you can walk through them easily and harvest or weed properly.
- You should also think about how much sunlight your patch is going to get on a daily basis so that it doesn't get too hot or too shady.
How to build a raised garden for growing vegetables?
It can be a daunting task to build a raised garden on your own. But if you follow these few steps, it will become much easier.
First, you will need to create the frame of the garden by putting together 4 posts that are about 3 feet tall and placing them in a rectangle shape with six feet between each one.
Next, you will need to place some 2x4’s horizontally on top of the posts spaced about 18 inches apart. On these boards, place some wood cross pieces that are 10 to 12 inches long and then screw them into the boards for stability. You can also use 2x3’s or plywood for this process as well. Afterward, cover the frame with wire mesh and then cover that with chicken wire until it is sturdy enough to hold the soil.
Make the raised gardens easy to reach and maintain from weeds. Placing it next to a water source and composting area is also beneficial. Harvesting your vegetables from a raised patch should be easier than in a traditional ground level system.
What are the best vegetables to grow in Ireland?
To start a small vegetable garden in Ireland, first identify the vegetables that are most suited to the weather here in Ireland.
Many varieties of beetroot, carrots, and parsnips grow well in Ireland and are ideal for a small vegetable garden. The size of the patch doesn’t need to be large and most people starting out should keep it simple. Lettuce and onions are also easy to grow and good choices to add to your first vegetable garden. They can be a great addition to any homemade salad and are full of nutrients.
A lot of people have only tasted beetroot boiled down in vinegar; however, there are other ways to enjoy this vegetable.
It can be boiled, baked, and grated to throw into a freshly made salad. It is important to note when sowing beetroot, this vegetable grows optimally in deep sandy soil and it is best to manure the soil the previous winter before growing.
To achieve a continuous supply of young beetroot, it is best to sow it every two weeks from April until July. Germination takes around 10 days.
After that, the beetroot should be ready to eat in 3 months. Sow about 1 inch deep, 4 inches apart in rows about 12 inches apart.
Be wary that beetroot seeds are a collection of up to 5 seeds, so they may need to be thinned out if all the seeds germinate.
Carrots are not the easiest vegetable to grow, but following instructions makes them more manageable. They require deep stone-free fertile soil to grow optimally.
There are many varieties of carrots that come in various colours such as purple, red, white, yellow, and of course, orange.
Maincrop varieties of carrots take about 11 weeks before harvest. Carrots are best sown directly in the soil as they do not transplant well, choose an open, sunny space in your garden.
Sow thinly at 1cm deep in 15-20cm apart from mid-April. Before storing, it is important to remove the foliage and leave a 5cm stump on the carrot.
Make sure the carrots are not exposed to light as they will go green so cover any of these with topsoil.
Parsnips need very little attention. The humble parsnip is relatively easy to grow in comparison with the carrot once it has been coaxed into germinating.
This vegetable will constantly stay in the ground even in the worst winter weather until they are wanted to eat.
To sow parsnips, it is important to dig deep beds and not manure them as manuring them will cause forking roots.
Break down the soil and rake well; add fertiliser a week before sowing if needed. April or early May is the preferable time to sow them.
Germinations will take up to three weeks. Seeds of the parsnips will not germinate in cold wet soil so it’s paramount to take this into account.
Sow three seeds every 6 inches in rows that are 12 inches from one another, make the drills 1cm deep. Parsnips are ready to harvest when the foliage begins to die in autumn, but the flavour improves after the first frosts.
Growing lettuce in your garden is a great option compared to buying plastic-packaged lettuce that has been pre chopped, flown into the country, and will wilt in reportedly a day or two of sitting in the fridge.
Lettuce can be grown easily and enjoyed fresh for 9 months of the year.
Like carrots and parsnips, there are different varieties of lettuce to choose from. Sow on seed in each tray to grow heads of lettuce.
With loose-leaf varieties, sow 3-5 seeds per tray and let it near light to germinate. Once they start growing, don't cover them with compost!
The seeds won't germinate above 25 degrees Celsius, so if it is a hot summer day, it is a good idea to place the trays in a cool shed until they germinate.
When the plant has 4 or 5 leaves, gradually expose the plants to sunlight, wind, and uneven temperature as it has been inside, then move it outside.
Onions are a great ingredient to add to any salad or recipe. Onions can be sown from sets when they're in their infant stage and grow quickly and will cost more than sowing them from seed.
Sow sets 4 inches apart in rows 8 inches apart in March or April.
Take note of the weather. If it is very cold and damp, onion sets will not be as successful. Push the set into the soil so the top is just about visible.
Frost may sometimes lift the sets out of the soil overnight if this happens just push them back in. Sow seeds in trays in February and move outside when seedlings are established.
Some other vegetables that do well in Ireland are tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, radishes and spinach. Although a small greenhouse area would be advised.
A Useful Feature For an Irish Patio or Small Garden Plot is to build a Herb spiral or herb focused plot.
With the perfect herb spiral garden, you can grow a surplus of fresh produce to keep you healthy and bring flavour to your cooking all year round.
The beauty of a spiral design is that it takes up very little space and the herbs are all grown in neat rows. Once they have been planted, all you need to do is regularly water them and pick the leaves as needed. These herbs will grow vertically and quickly, meaning you can eat them in no time at all!At Miller's Home and Garden in Portlaoise, we stock all your gardening essentials from garden tools, soil, vegetable seeds, compost, bark and all your hardware related products you would need. Our online store also has a wide range of garden power tools such as Lawnmowers, Chainsaws, Hedgecutters, Multi-tool sets and anything else you may need. We have long term relationships with the best suppliers in Ireland and can bring you the best value every year. Please drop in to the store or contact us through the website.
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