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Getting Started

If your school does have some open ground outside then here are some steps to getting started:

  • You may need to clear the ground first and alternatives to using strong weed killers (which are not good to use near children) are to:

    a) Weed the area by hand with a trowel and/or dig out the larger weeds or plants with a fork depending on how overgrown the area is. Try to get all the roots out otherwise the weeds will re-grow.

    b) If you don't wish to start your growing immediately you could ‘mulch' the area. Mulching is very simple and involves covering the area with any material which blocks out light. This could be black plastic, carpet or cardboard (large sheets which overlap are best). If you do use carpet then use only the Hessian backed type as the foam type will just disintegrate and leave lots of foam bits in the soil. A mulch will kill the weeds underneath but needs to be left on for at least a year so is not appropriate if you want to start growing immediately.
  • If you want to improve the soil then adding compost or well-rotted manure will improve all soils. For instance, if the soil is very loose and sandy or very hard and clay-like then digging in compost or manure will improve the structure of the soil and make it easier to grow vegetables.

  • Make a plan of your growing area; we have included some examples of designs which you could use. These designs are for use with the Grow Your Own Grub Project but could be used to grow other food too.

Ground Growing
Planning your growing area

When planning your growing area you will need to be aware of the individual growth habits and needs of each crop you will be growing:


We have recommended using the round variety of carrot as it can be sown in trays and then transplanted into the open ground. When the carrots are grown from seeds they grow in clumps. These clumps of carrots are sown in rows and each clump must be 23cm apart from the next clump. When one row is completed then plant a second row 23cm from the first. The rows can be long or short rows depending on the amount of space you have.

Carrots need a sunny site.


Peas can be grown in rows or made into a wigwam shape. Each pea plant needs to be about 5cm apart and each row about 15cm apart. If planting in a wigwam shape (see diagram) then ensure the pea plants are still 5cm apart. It is important to remember that peas will need something to grow up as they get quite tall - they will need twiggy sticks which are about 1.2m tall.

These need a lot of sun and a sheltered site if possible.



These are best planted 45cm apart in rows which are 30cm apart, but you could plant them in a single row against a wall for instance. Tomato plants will also need support and sticks or canes at least 1.2m high will be needed.

These need lots of sun and a sheltered site if possible.



These plants are sown in rows and need to be 15cm apart in their rows. Each row needs to be 30cm apart from the other.

Spinach can be grown where there is some shade.


!! You may want to take a look at the container section of the site as you may want to have a mix of ground and container growing !!

Carrot - Round carrot variety / plant each clump 23cm apart

Peas - pea wigwam / with pea support sticks
(click on above image for a larger image)

Tomatoes - need support sticks of 1.2m tied to the main stems/
tomatoes may be planted in a single row along a wall
(click on above image for a larger image)

Spinach - space 15cm apart in rows and each row 30cm apart

Examples of ground growing designs/plans
(click for larger image)

Design 1
click for larger image

Design 2
click for larger image
©2005 All Content copyright Portsmouth City Council
peas with support sticks or pea sticks picture of peas when ready to eat
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©2006 Portsmouth City Council