Your Year Round Guide to Growing Fruit and Vegetables

There’s nothing like tasting food you’ve grown, so why not have a go? Whether you’ve got a windowsill, balcony or garden, here’s how to make a start.

Cherry tomatoes growing in pots | Berkeley Inspiration

You can grow cherry tomatoes in pots
Credit: Getty Images

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is having a ‘moment’. More and more people   are having a go at sowing seeds and gaining a sense of satisfaction from harvesting their own food. 

Gardening has been proved many times to improve physical and emotional wellbeing, but growing tasty things to eat adds an extra layer of fulfillment. And that’s before you consider the nutritional benefits: things taste better when they’re freshly picked, and the vitamin content is higher, too. 

You don’t need acres of space, either: herbs and chillies can be grown on a sunny windowsill; carrots and dwarf beans grow well in a large container; cherry tomatoes and tiny alpine strawberries thrive in pots and hanging baskets; and salad leaves can be planted in a window box. Focus on the edibles you’re most likely to eat and cook with, and you can’t go wrong. Fewer food miles, better flavour, and improved mental health: what’s not to love?

Plan your growing year with this simple seasonal guide to what to do when:


Although gardening tasks are limited during the colder months, you can still plan ahead. Look at seed catalogues and gardening websites and make a list of the edibles you’d like to grow. Pre-order seeds and baby plants to make sure you get the varieties you want. Then, think about where you’re going to grow them. Work out how many containers you’ll need, or how much space you need to set aside in the garden. Winter’s the perfect time to weed beds and borders, and get rid of old veg plants in containers. You can also put a layer of cardboard, black plastic or weed membrane over your veg patch to warm up the soil. There are also winter vegetables to harvest if you sowed them during late spring and early summer.

What’s ready to pick and eat now: kale, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, leeks, rocket, mizuna, indoor herbs (basil, mint and coriander)

Kale growing in the garden | Berkeley Inspiration

Kale will be ready to harvest during the winter
Credit: Getty Images


You can start sowing seeds of tomatoes, French beans, chillies, courgette and squash into trays of compost indoors in March – when the seedlings emerge, turn the trays round regularly to avoid your seedlings growing in odd directions. At the same time, sow seeds of companion plants like basil, chives, calendula and French marigolds (see below). As seedlings get bigger, they can be ‘potted on’ into individual pots or modules. Alternatively, wait a few weeks and buy baby plants instead – they’re usually available online and in garden centres from May. Spring is also the time to plant baby strawberry plants outdoors.

What’s ready to pick and eat now: sprouting broccoli, leeks

Chilli seedlings growing | Berkeley Inspiration

As seedlings get bigger you can move them into bigger pots
Credit: Getty Images


In early summer, you can switch your attention outdoors: plant baby veg plants into outdoor containers and beds, and sow seeds of hardier vegetables (like radish, beetroot, lettuce and rocket) directly into the compost or soil. Provide supports for climbing beans (canes are an easy option) and protect veg pots and beds from curious pets – chicken wire and a few canes make a good temporary fence. As the weather warms up, keep everything well-watered and pull out any weeds that appear. Watch out for slugs and snails – pick off any you see, or use organic slug pellets. Sow more seeds of salad leaves in trays to fill gaps in your veg beds and pots later in summer. Snip off strawberry runners as they pop up, and starting feeding tomato, chilli and courgette plants with a liquid feed once the flowers appear. Pick French beans and runner beans as soon as they’re ready, to encourage more beans to form.

What’s ready to pick and eat now: salad crops, strawberries, French beans, peas, radish, tomatoes, courgettes, outdoor herbs (chives, basil, parsley, coriander)

Ripe strawberries ready to pick | Berkeley Inspiration

Enjoy the fruits of your labour – strawberries ready to pick 
Credit: Getty Images


There’s still time to sow final batches of radish and winter salad crops (rocket, mizuna and mustard leaf), and it’s also a good time to plant garlic outdoors. Then, once your other veg  have been picked and eaten, you can start clearing containers, beds and window boxes. Kale and sprouting broccoli need sturdy canes to prevent being damaged by winter winds, and any remaining strawberry runners and old leaves should be removed. Sow seeds of basil and coriander to grow on the kitchen windowsill so that you can enjoy fresh herbs in winter.

What’s ready to pick and eat now: spinach, runner beans, carrots, beetroot, squash

Picking homegrown squash in the garden | Berkeley Inspiration
Autumn harvest – now is the time to pick and eat squash
Credit: Getty Images  

5 Perfect Pairings

Growing tomatoes and basil together as companion plants | Berkeley Inspiration

Basil is thought to repel pests and improve the taste of tomatoes when grown together
Credit: Getty Images  

Some plants grow better and stronger with a ‘companion plant’ because the companion plant helps to attract pollinating insects, and to deter unwanted pests, like aphids. Here are five tried and tested combinations:

  • Tomatoes + basil 
  • Kale + mint
  • Carrots + spring onions
  • Runner beans + nasturtium 
  • Courgette + calendula

Kit Yourself Out

Gardening hand tools | Berkeley Inspiration

You’ll need a few essential gardening tools to get started
Credit: Getty Images

You don’t need masses of expensive equipment, but some basic tools and pieces of kit definitely help.

  • Garden tools
    If you have a garden, you’ll need a long-handled fork and a spade for digging the soil.
  • Hand tools
    Even if you only have a balcony or a patio, a trowel, hand fork and secateurs (or plant ‘snips’) will make life easier.
  • Small pots & seed trays
    You’ll need these if you want to grow edibles from seed. Alternatively, you could upcycle leftover food packaging like yoghurt pots and plastic take-away trays – just punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. 
  • Multi-purpose compost or grow-bags
    Fill pots and seed trays with compost, or plant baby plants directly into a grow-bag. Choose eco-friendly peat-free or reduced peat versions.
  • Watering can
    Go for a watering can with a fine rose head so that your seedlings don’t get swamped. #
  • Large pots & saucers
    Choose the biggest pots you can fit into your gardening space, and put a plastic or terracotta saucer under each pot to help retain water.