Unwins have created the NEW Unwins Organic seed collection in partnership with Garden Organic, the charity that promotes sustainable growing, campaigns for change and provides practical support for successful green gardening.
Browse our fantastic range of organic vegetable seeds now or read on to find out more about growing your own healthy organic vegetables.
This guide brings you some top tips from Garden Organic on how to grow healthy plants from your seeds whilst caring for the environment. For more information about Garden Organic, their environmental campaigns and practical advice on how to grow organically visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk
Prepare your soil
Good gardening starts with healthy soil. There are many soil types but all will benefit from following these tips:
- Dig clay soils in late autumn, and for all other types of soil dig in early spring.
- Dig out pits or trenches where your climbing beans will be growing, fill them with rough compost or kitchen waste (fruit and vegetable peelings) and re-cover with soil. This will hold on to water as well as providing natural food for the crop.
- Before planting, lightly fork compost into the soil where the leeks, lettuce, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, parsley and broccoli will be growing, but not where the carrots will be sown.
- Try not to walk on the soil too much. You might like to consider using a bed system especially if your soil is clay.
- Use a rake to create a smooth surface just before you sow or plant.
Sowing and planting your organic vegetables
Some seeds can be sown as early as February. Check the information on your seed packet for advice on when to sow each crop. You will also find advice there on whether to sow direct into the soil or in a pot or tray indoors. Here are some tips for successful sowing and planting:
- Don’t be tempted to sow too early outside. Seeds will not perform so well in cold wet soil.
- All the seeds in this range, except carrots, can easily be sown indoors on a warm windowsill or in a greenhouse for later planting out, minimising the effects of the weather, birds and mice.
- Move plants into larger pots as soon as their roots have filled the available space.
- Broad beans are hardy enough to be planted out in early spring. Plant out other more tender crops after the risk of frost has passed. Do not plant out anything that looks weak or unhealthy.
- Carrots, leeks, coriander, lettuce (July sowing) and onions can be sown direct where they are to grow.
- Water plants in when planting to help them to establish.
How to care for your growing organic vegetables
If you have looked after your soil well and raised healthy plants, you should have strong growing, happy crops. It is important to keep an eye on them from now on to look out for any problems. Try not to be put off by long lists of pests and diseases in books, you may not get any of them!
- Try not to allow weeds to establish. They will compete for nutrients and water.
- Grow some flowering herbs or annuals with simple open flowers near your vegetables to attract beneficial insects to prey on pest insects. Anything from our RHS Perfect for Pollinators range is ideal.
- Grow carrots under very fine mesh or insect-excluding netting to keep out carrotfly.
- Keep indoor plants watered but be careful not to overdo it.
- Remove any plant that looks unhealthy, dwarfed and wrinkled or the wrong colour. This may be a virus. It cannot be cured and may spread.
- Pick crops when they are at their best. Pea pods should be fat but still dark green; runner beans are much nicer picked young than when they start to become thicker and stringy.