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How to grow organic vegetables from seed

Image shows a basket full of harvested vegetables, including tomatoes, sweet peppers, potatoes, cress and basil

Whether you have some patio pots or an allotment, it’s easy and rewarding to grow your own produce from organic vegetable seeds. Follow our quick guide to plot preparation, sowing and growing, and you’ll be harvesting homegrown veg next season. 

How do I grow organic vegetables at home? 

Image shows a close-up of a hand sowing bean seeds in 2 parallel lines on the top of some garden soil. In the blurred background, seedings are already growing in lines.
Sow organic vegetable seed in good quality, nutrient-rich compost 

Many seeds can be sown in trays in the greenhouse or indoors to germinate and grow, before being transplanted into pots or the ground once they are large enough and after the risk of frost. Some seeds can be sown directly where you want them to grow, whether that’s in a container or the ground. 

To grow organic veg successfully, you need to start with a sunny area of the patio or garden and healthy soil in which to sow your seeds.  

Consider the vegetable varieties that you wish to grow, planning when and where you are going to grow them – you’ll get the best results from planting the right plant in the right place! 

What do I need to grow organic vegetables? 

Image shows a garden where a dark-green coloured corrugated oval metal planter is placed on a grey gravel area. The planter has plants growing in its compost, including a strawberry plant in blooms with white flowers. There is a metal watering can beside the planter and borders growing flowers each side. In the blurred background is a pale stone patio and, beyond that, a navy blue door to a house with white walls.
Raised planters make weeding and spotting pests and diseases easier 

Beside healthy soil, your plants will also need lots of sunlight, a source of water and to be kept free of weeds, pests and diseases. 

Try sowing some herbs in a pot, tomato plants in a container or maybe a raised bed. Growing in containers and raised beds makes it easier to keep the soil around your plants weed free, and to deter and spot any pests. Inspect your plants for signs of damage and remove any pests and damaged leaves by hand. It’s important to keep containers well-watered in dry weather and to monitor them for waterlogging over the winter months. 

To help suppress weeds, apply a 3-5cm thick mulch to the surface of the soil. Common organic mulch materials include manure, leaf mould, compost, and straw. These all slowly decompose, adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil and improving soil structure. Newspaper and cardboard can also be used. 

To avoid mildew and other plant diseases, water plants from below, avoiding wetting the leaves, and ensure plants are well-spaced, uncrossed and with good airflow between them. 

What is the best soil mixture for an organic vegetable garden? 

Image shows a photos of a trowel digging into some compost. The trowel has a pale wooden handle and silver metal scoop.
Grow organic vegetable seeds in a mix of 60% topsoil and 40% compost 

Organic multipurpose compost is a quick way to start growing in containers and raised beds. Alternatively, start to improve your garden soil by digging in organic matter – ideally nicely decomposed matter from your garden compost heap. Aim for a mix of 60% topsoil and 40% compost.  

Do I need to fertilize my organic vegetable garden? 

Photo shows some red clover in full blooms with a blurred background showing a flower border and path
Green manure crops like clover suppress weeds and have multiple soil benefits 

Sowing a green manure crop such as clover can remove the need for artificial fertilisers and is a great way to suppress weeds, improve soil structure and fix nitrogen, giving your vegetable crops an important boost where they need it most. By covering the soil with a green manure crop during fallow months, soil erosion and nutrient loss can be avoided, whilst creating a habitat for wildlife and attracting pollinators. Sow green manure seed from August to October and simply fork the growth into the soil in the spring. 

Feeding your vegetable plants with an organic fertiliser will encourage faster growth and larger crops. Organic plant feeds are available to buy, and you can also use organically certified well-rotted manure. 

How do I control pests organically? 

Photo shows a green mesh garden tunnel erected on 7 metal hoops. The end nearest the viewer is tied closed with black cord. The tunnel is covering strawberry plants to protect the fruit from birds. There is a basket of harvested strawberry fruits to the left of the tunnel, resting on the bare soil. The blurred background shows a wooden shed and hedge.
Prevent pests by using deterrent barriers 

Prevention is always better than a cure, so deterring pests is essential to organic growing. One of the best ways to control common garden pests is companion planting, which involves planting certain flowers around your vegetable patch, which will: 

• attract helpful insects that will eat the pests
• act as sacrificial plants, attracting pests away from your crop e.g. nasturtiums
• deters pests with their strong scent e.g. herbs

It’s also wise to encourage wild birds and hedgehogs to the garden, who will help with pest control – especially slugs and snails. 

Photo shows a close-up of a clear plastic anti-snail collar that's fitted to a tomato plant, which is growing in a red-coloured growbag.
Slug and snail prevention barriers help to protect crops 

If you don’t have the right natural predators in your garden, biological pest controls are another option for pest control. There is also a wealth of barrier controls available to block pests from your plants. 

What are the quickest organic vegetables to grow from seed? 

Image shows a close-up of a child's face - the child is looking at the camera whilst holding a bright-green pod of peas up to its mouth and biting on it. The pea pod has burst open to show the 6 peas inside.
Fast-growing peas are an ideal organic vegetable crop for kids to grow 

Salad, radishes and peas are some of the quickest-maturing crops to grow from seed. A great way to get children engaged in growing the organic way, they’re ready to pick and eat fresh from the plant in just a few weeks. 

Start growing organically! 

Now you know how to grow organic vegetables from seed! Suttons’ blog contains lots of help to support you on your growing journey – check out our beginner’s guide to growing veg from seed, seed success tips, plus a handy fruit and veg sowing and harvesting chart. 

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