Beginner's guide: Growing your own vegetables – Sara's Kitchen Garden
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Growing Your Own Vegetables – For Beginners

How do potatoes grow? Where are the snap peas located? How many radishes grow from each seed? I’ll share my best tips on how to grow vegetables as a beginner below, so you don’t have to wonder anymore!

Chard planted together with the beautiful summer flower baby's breath, I love the way this bed turned out!


It’s not always so easy to start growing your own vegetables that you up until now have been buying at the store. You might not know how the vegetable grows, where it’s located and when it’s time to start harvesting. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of ten useful facts about vegetables that are good to start with as a beginner. I hope my growing tips for beginners will help you start growing your own vegetables in no-time!

1. Potatoes

Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes or tubers. This potato looks just like the regular ones you buy at the supermarket. Be sure to buy your seed potatoes at your local garden store though.

Dig the potato down and cover it with soil or some other organic material. The potato will start developing long roots in the ground and leaves above ground. The new potatoes start growing from the roots. They are quite small, to begin with. You can start harvesting your potatoes after about three months. Don’t eat the potato greens. Read more about chitting potatoes here: Chitting potatoes indoors.


2. Yellow onion

The easiest way to grow them is by using onion sets. They’ve been developed to produce a good harvest of large onions. You can also grow onions from seeds, but it’s much more difficult.

Every onion set produces a large onion unless you’re growing shallots that develop several bulbs from each set.

Dig the onion set down with the pointy end up. Put it close to the surface. The onion produces a long, green plant while the onion develops. You can eat the onion greens but don’t take too much of it from each onion. Harvest the onion when it’s a good size for you. Read more about growing your own onions here: Growing early onions in my polytunnel.



Sättlök på jord i ett odlingstråg.

Put the onion sets on a layer of soil before you plant them. This will help them develop roots, which in turn will make the onions grow more quickly when they’ve been planted.


3. Snow peas

The snow pea seeds create individual plants of different heights, depending on the variety you use. When the plant bolts, every flower develops into a pod. You harvest the pod when it’s flat unless you’re in fact growing a sugar snap pea variety. Harvest these when they look a bit chubby. Watch my YouTube video about sugar snap peas here: Grow sugar snap peas in pots.

You can eat the entire pod and the plant keeps developing new ones when you harvest them. So keep harvesting a little bit each day, as soon as a new snow pea has developed. Cut the plant down when it’s starting to look a bit worse for wear. This is how to make fried sugar snap peas.


4. Carrots

Carrot seeds are quite small and bit tricky to deal with when it’s time to start sowing. Every single seed develops into a carrot, so try not to sow the seeds in too tight rows. The carrot grows down into the soil and thrives in fine soil without gravel. The roots can get misshapen and short if you grow the carrots in soil with too much gravel.

The carrot greens grow above ground and are edible. You can often tell the size of the carrot since the tops are usually visible. It takes about three months for the carrot to grow if you sowed it in spring. Read more about growing carrots here: Growing carrots all year round.


Ett barn bär en brick med små tråg fyllda av bönor. Child carrying a tray with little troughs filled with beans.

From left to right: wax beans, snap beans, dwarf beans, romano beans and broccoli in the back.


5. Snap beans

Snap beans are also called haricot verts. They are long and often thin beans. They come in several different colors like green, purple and yellow. The yellow beans are often called wax beans.

Every seed produces a plant which can be tall or short, depending on the variety. The plant will, in turn, produce lots of little beans that grow in clusters all over the plant.

Harvest the beans before they become too large. The more you harvest, the more beans the plant will produce. Don’t wait too long before you start harvesting, do it as soon as you think they are large enough. They’re not as good when they’ve grown too large.

Beans contain a substance that becomes poisonous in our bodies, that’s why it’s so important to always boil the beans before eating them. Read more about growing beans here: Planting and growing beans.


6. Lettuce

The lettuce seeds are quite small. Every seed turns into a plant, either a lettuce head or several individual leaves in clusters. Sow the seeds quite far apart so that the plants have enough space when they grow larger too.

Lettuce might have difficulty growing in the summer, this might be because the soil is too warm. Lettuce needs cooler soil. Try planting your lettuce somewhere in the shade instead.

Harvest the entire plant or leaf by leaf. If the plant grows very tall, it might start to bolt. Don’t let that happen since this affects the taste. Cut the plant down or just leave it for purely aesthetic purposes instead. Read more about growing lettuce here: My favorite lettuce.


7. Chard

Chard seeds are large and irregularly shaped. Every seed actually consists of several little seeds, so several plants develop from each seed.

The chard plant develops plenty of leaves. There are many chard varieties out there, large ones as well as smaller ones with quite skinny stalks.

Harvest the chard leaves individually by cutting the leaves off as close to the ground as possible. The plant continues to produce new leaves throughout the season. If a flower stalk starts to develop (it’s a tall and hard stalk in the middle of the plant), then you’ll need to cut it off. This will prevent the plant from bolting and it will instead start to produce more leaves.

The top picture shows a chard plant with red stalks, which I planted together with my summer flower, Baby’s breath. Read more about chard here: Growing the Lucullus Swiss chard. Try my delicious recipe with chard here: Chard and root vegetable gnocchi.


8. Radish

Every radish seed produces a single radish. So if you like radishes, make sure to sow many seeds. Harvest the round taproot that grows in the soil.

Radishes start to bolt if it’s very warm and light outside. That means that the taproot stops growing and you’ll just end up with a long regular root. Early spring or late summer/autumn is the best time to get a good harvest of large taproots. You’ll need to water your radishes almost every day to get nice, crispy radishes.


9. Squash

The squash seeds are large and flat, and each seed produces a very large plant. The seeds need to grow in very warm soil, or they’ll rot. Start your seeds somewhere sunny and warm, but don’t let the seeds dry out.

Every squash plant develops many gourds. The gourds grow from the female flowers only. When you’re growing squash, you’ll probably notice that some of the flowers fall off without actually producing any gourds. These are the male flowers. Underdeveloped gourds might also fall off if they haven’t been properly pollinated. Harvest the gourds when they’re still quite small. They don’t taste as good when they’ve grown larger. Make a super tasty homemade salsa: Delicious tomato and squash salsa.


10. Arugula

Arugula (or rucola, rocket) is actually part of the cabbage family even though it’s used as a leafy green. The seeds are small, dark and round. Every seed produces one individual plant that looks a bit like a palm tree. Sow the seeds in quite tight rows. There are many different kinds of rucola. Some of them are peppery, others have a milder taste. Harvest your arugula by cutting the plant down. New leaves will start growing after a while and then you can go for a second harvest.

If a tall stalk starts to grow in the middle of the plant, it means that the arugula is starting to bolt. Remove the plant and sow a new batch.


Good luck growing your own vegetables!
/Sara Bäckmo

07. January 2020