How to grow vegetables in the North of England
Growing your own vegetables may require more effort than popping down to the local supermarket, but the results are far more rewarding.
If you have been thinking of flexing your green fingers, here are some top tips for growing your own veg in the North.
Preparing the soil
Preparing the soil is an essential part of successful vegetable growing, so getting it to its best will be a big help.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommends digging in bulky organic matter, such as compost, leafmould, or well-rotted manure, as this helps light soils to absorb moisture and nutrients.
In clay soils, it helps to break up large particles preventing it from cracking, while also helping it to drain better and be easier to work with.
Autumn is considered the best time for the preparation of clay soils, as the digging allows it to be further broken down by frosts and rain.
For light, sandy soils, spring is the best time to prepare the ground.
What to grow in spring and summer
Vegetables including broccoli, cabbages, leeks, parsnips, kale and brussels sprouts are the best to sow during late spring and early summer, as they take several months to mature.
These hardy vegetables cope well in cold conditions and will survive when frosty weather bites.
Leafy crops, such as parsley, chard and rocket, should be sown from early summer and will last into the winter, if they are given some extra protection from the elements with a fleece or cloche covering.
What to grow in late summer and autumn
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Corn salad, land cress and oriental salad leaves, including mustard and rocket, are best sown from late summer, as they will last through the autumn and even into winter if covered.
Potatoes can also be planted during this time ready for winter harvests, while carrots, onions and turnips can be grown in the colder months if they are properly stored (left in the soil over the winter).
Where to position your vegetable patch
According to the RHS, most vegetables grow best in a sunny position, so try to select a position away from large trees and hedges.
If you plant your crops close to these they will have to compete for water and nutrients, and they will also be covered by shade.
However, plants such as lettuce, peas, spinach and radicchio will grow in a shady spot.
Crops also need to be well protected from strong winds, particularly aubergines, peppers and beans, so be mindful to select a spot where they will be sheltered.
When to feed and water your crop
Plants require plenty of water for a strong and healthy growth, and need a constant supply of nutrients at the roots.
Watering during the summer months is a necessity, as well as ensuring any crops growing in containers are given a constant supply of water, up to twice a day in warm weather to prevent them drying out.
Seedlings, such as greenhouse crops and runner beans, can suffer a shock if watered with cold water, so the RHS recommend allowing it reach a more ambient temperature first.
Feeding your crop with a fertiliser will also usually be necessary, which should be added around a week before sowing.
Some crops may also require additional feeds throughout the growing season, and this is typically best provided as a liquid feed.