Raising your own vegetable patch has to be one of the most satisfying activities a food lover can indulge in.
And it's not just for people with time on their hands. You don't need an allotment or even a big garden. A miniscule border, a patio or even a spare windowsill is the most you'll need to begin harvesting your own organic fodder.
Spinach, salad onions and potatoes are the easiest veg to get going with. Here's our guide to sowing the first seeds.
The beauty of this luscious leaf is that the more you cut leaves to throw into your salad or pasta dish, the more the plant sprouts. Spinach grows well in pots - you can use clay, plastic or metal containers, ideally around 15 centimetres deep. Line the bottom of each with stones, to provide good drainage.
Plant your spinach seeds in spring, starting early, and making two or three sowings, a few weeks apart, so you'll have plenty of spinach throughout the summer. Mix plenty of compost in with your soil and put the pots in a sunny spot in your garden or on your windowsill. Give them plenty of water and liquid fertiliser, especially on sunny days.
The spinach will germinate within seven to 21 days, and will be ready to harvest within 40 to 50 days, although it can be picked whenever it looks ready. Repeat the process in late summer.
Salad onions favour deep pots or containers, very much like spinach. They need plenty of room to grow so plant the seeds as thinly as you can - this can be tricky as the seeds are very small.
Keep the seeds warm and moist (but not waterlogged) for two or three weeks until germination occurs. You should be able start harvesting two months after sowing. The onions can be picked when very small and used raw in salads - the larger and more mature the onion, the stronger the flavour.herbs
Once you've mastered spinach and onions, you're well equipped to grow a crop of potatoes to see you through the winter. If you're feeling confident, plant in spring along with your other veggies, otherwise begin in early September.
Find a tub or trough and line it with stones. Instead of using soil, use soil-free compost and mix with 10% sharp sand to help with drainage. Keep the tub raised off the ground with a few bricks and position in the sunniest spot you have.
The easiest varieties to start off with are Rocket or Swift. Plant the tubers roughly 8 centimetres apart on a layer of compost. Cover with more compost and and put a sheet of glass or clear, rigid plastic over the whole thing, regularly wiping away any condensation, until green shoots appear.