I'm a novice; get me out of here!

Ground zero. That’s where I’m starting from with learning how to grow fruit and veg. If that sounds like you, then we’re in this together! 


I’m not from a particularly veg-growing family. My grandparents grew the odd spud and rhubarb. My mum and stepdad grew potatoes and grapes in the greenhouse at one point, and my dad grew tomatoes for a few years. 


I’m not naturally green fingered and I struggle with house plants. I have very little knowledge about horticulture, and my previous experience makes for a very short CV.


Attempt 1: My debut was some years ago, when I tried growing a few tomato plants on my windowsill. 

Result: I had small plants, but no tomatoes.

Conclusion: Epic fail.


Attempt 2: A few years ago, I thought I'd go back to basics and start with some lettuce seeds on my windowsill. 

Result: They were quite leggy and didn’t look like any lettuce I’ve ever seen in a shop. 

Conclusion: Must do better.


Our rhubarb crown donated through Freegle soon got itself establishedAttempt 3: Last year, with renewed vigour, I decided to try growing cherry tomatoes in the conservatory-cum-workshop and some rhubarb kindly donated by Chris Cant from Penrith & Eden District Freegle.


With the tomatoes, I went the whole hog and planted one variety from seed and we bought a few plants reduced to £1.50 in B&Q (clearly the cream of the crop). The seedlings duly appeared into the world in their trays, and I planted them into small pots, and then finally into big ones. We soon had a jungle. 


I knew about this concept of nipping off side shoots when you’re growing tomatoes and I read a bit about this and even watched the odd YouTube video. I still have to admit I wasn't very clear on what exactly I was trying to achieve. According to the packet, the ones I planted from seed didn’t need to be de-side-shooted as they were meant to be bushy, but I only noticed this salient fact months later. At any rate, they all took on a life of their own. 


Result: The rhubarb looked after itself and grew apace. As for the tomatoes, We did have quite a few tomatoes throughout the summer, although because I hadn’t side-shooted them correctly, many of them were pea-sized and the room was the set of I'm a celebrity, get me out of here

Conclusion: Good start but must do better.


Cucumber and tomato seedlings

Attempt 4: This summer, I planted some more tomatoes from seed, and also branched out into cucumbers. As we were having such a sunny summer, once the seedlings got established, I replanted them into bigger pots and put them outdoors.




Result: That’s a story for next time!