There’s nothing quite like a traditional Sunday roast, but even this classic meal can be improved. When you grow your own food your enjoyment of your meal goes through the roof as you are enjoying the very freshest of ingredients, together with the satisfaction of knowing that they are the results of your own hard work.
Depending on when you want to harvest your potatoes you will want to plant different varieties. For classic roast potatoes you can get some early crops from Accent, Ulster Chieftain and ‘Swift’. Plant these in mid-late March and lift 10 weeks later. Second earlies include Catriona, Mona Lisa, Osprey, Edzell Blue and Kestrel. These potatoes can be planted in mid-late March but should be left for 13 weeks before lifting. for main rop roasters you have an even greater selection including Desiree, Romano, Picasso, King Edward, Maris Piper, Valor and Dunbar Standard. Plant these crops in April and lift 15 weeks later.
Soil composition is very important for carrots. Heavy, compacted or stony soils can lead to your roots forking and soil temperatures below 10C can delay germination by a month! For the best carrot crops dig heaps of manure into the soil months before you plan to plant and wait until the soil has reached 10C before sowing the seeds. If that sounds like too much work, you might consider growing them in containers. You can start sowing carrots in February if you force them under a cold frame. These crops can be harvested from late July. Baby Sweet and Thumbelina are good varieties for this. Sow your main crops (King Midas Kurudo and Nelson varieties) in June and July for harvest from August to November.
Cabbages like a firm, sunny site that has been well-dug with manure a few months before you plant. With winter, spring and summer harvest varieties available, you can have cabbage throughout most of the year if you are prepared to start some seedlings indoors. If you would prefer to grow them in a container then Minicole, Hispi F1 and Pixie are delightful small varieties that are suited to container gardening.
If growing your own vegetables and potatoes isn’t enough of a home-produced meal for you, you could consider keeping a few chickens to grace your Sunday table. While all breeds of chickens can be eaten, those that have been bred for the table produce the most meat in the least amount of time. Hubbard and Sasso are both popular free-range table chickens that will give you around 2kg of carcass when they are 10 to 14 weeks old. Alternatively, you can raise your own chicks from laying birds, keeping the hens for future egg production and marking the cockerels out for the table. Whatever breed you choose, make sure to keep your chickens away from your vegetables, as they will likely find them just as tasty as you do!
Get growing your own Sunday lunch – the results will certainly be worth it!
Written by Sam Luther, a gardening blogger.