Vegetable Garden

How to (Re) Start a Vegetable Garden – Our Story on Instagram TV

May 21, 2020

How to Create a Vegetable Garden with Greenside Up

(Re) Starting a Vegetable Garden

The COVID-19 global pandemic has been many things to many people bringing trauma, pain and heartbreak but also space and time for reflection as the world slows down. There’s not a day gone by during the past three months when we haven’t felt blessed to be living in the countryside, forgetful of the many inconveniences that can dwell alongside it. Living miles from anywhere yet with a garden, albeit one that had become overgrown and unkempt from almost three years of neglect, has helped our mental health considerably during these difficult times.

How to Create a Vegetable Garden with Greenside Up

Encouraging biodiversity

On the 11th March 2020, as for many of us living in Ireland around that time, our world changed. All of my work stopped for the foreseeable future in what was to be my busiest year to date. Five of us were living under the same roof again and as parents, not only did we have our own worries and concerns to deal with, but had to consider how a lock-in might affect our three offspring as all their physical social contacts were cut.

New Skills

Luckily we had saved for and planned to make changes to our garden this year which included an entertainment area. As soon as it became apparent that garden centres and hardware stores were about to close and that fresh food shortages might develop, we threw ourselves into the work. I was able to use the new garden design skills I’d learnt in the part-time Advanced Landscaping course that I finished remotely in April. I also drew upon the personal experience gained of needing a low maintenance vegetable garden, and ensured we planned our space more efficiently whilst allowing habitats for biodiversity. Unexpectedly the kids got involved and helped to create new areas that far exceeded our own visions for relaxation.

During this unexpected time at home, I’ve had the opportunity to pull all my recent years of learnings together and in doing so, I’ve been sharing them on my new Instagram TV channel with the idea that I can continue to educate remotely and hopefully help some of you. Unfortunately I don’t have the video editing skills for fancy how to video’s, nor the broadband to allow for Zoom or live screenings, but Instagram TV gave me the opportunity, usually to film in one take, what’s been going on in our garden, warts and all.

All work, no play

It seems ironic that my hobby of growing vegetables at home, which turned into a working passion where I could help others start their own vegetable garden, became a monster that took me away from our own haven, where not a single seed was sown.

On the one hand I’d be talking to groups about the importance of not loosing life skills, of growing and buying local food and of food security, and on the other, was lucky to spend an hour or two outside a week at home cutting the grass. COVID-19 has changed that. It has given us time to reconnect, rethink and refresh.

I am thankful every day, not only that my friends and family have managed to keep their health, but to have had the time to spend in our garden and make the changes that were necessary. I hope that you have found the rewards that gardening and nature can bring too.

The following links to a sample of several videos I’ve made that you can find on Instagram. You don’t need an account to view them. If you’ve been thinking of creating a vegetable garden, or are looking for some tips and ideas on growing vegetables, I hope they’ll be of help. You can find the full series here, but in the meantime, here’s a few tasters.

How to Design a Vegetable Garden

I began with a practical session on How to Design a Vegetable Garden where I shared tips about how we planned to turn our lawn into a raised vegetable bed garden. There are more videos in the series that share how we did that, including the costings, soil and wood used.


View this post on Instagram


Dee talks you through the process she uses to plan and design her raised bed garden

A post shared by Dee Sewell | (@greensideupveg) on

How to Plan a Polytunnel Garden

This was followed by a mixture of short films that covered the almost overwhelming job of reclaiming the soil in our freshly covered polytunnel. Thank goodness I’d bought the new polythene back in the autumn from Highbank, even though I was cursing that we didn’t have time then to put it on the hoops back then.

How to Build a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

The film clips moved onto the front lawn where we installed the raised beds, planned for in the design video above. Although most vegetables are now planted and sown into the beds, we’re not finished yet as we still plan to cover the surrounding lawn with stones when funds allow, completely ridding ourselves of the patchy grass and its continual mowing regime.

How to Grow Courgettes

As the garden comes to life and seeds are being sown, I’ve started to include timely ‘How to’ guides for growing vegetables using techniques that have worked for me. For instance I recently planted courgettes in the polytunnel, saving some for outdoors.

There have been introductions to the various family members here, feathered and furry and how they will help to add organic matter to the vegetable garden in the months to come.

I’ve added some garden tours that follow the progress across all the areas. The most recent is a new Forest Bathing area in the little woodland on the property (or a potential Rave in the Woods once restrictions ease!)

During the past three months we’ve built raised beds, covered and filled the polytunnel, started to make a duck pond, cleared derelict buildings and made a garden bar. We’ve created a tranquil space in the woodland and made lazy beds for the potatoes in our one acre plot, we’ve sown seeds, transplanted plants, hardened them off, planted and pruned. The work is ongoing and I plan to continue with the videos over the coming months.

If you have an opportunity to watch all or any of the clips or have any questions or concerns in relation to creating a new vegetable garden please leave a comment. If you’d like to share how you’ve managed to get by during and if the garden or nature has helped, we’d love to hear from you. In the meantime #staysafe

Forest Bathing At Greenside Up


  • Reply Anita MacAleavey May 22, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Love that you’re sharing all this development with us! It’s so exciting for you to be doing this for yourselves after all the time spent doing it for others.

    I’m gaping at the size of your bean teepee: are they all the same bean or dwould that even matter? : I did two different ones with three canes each, just out of habit I think.


    • Reply Dee Sewell May 22, 2020 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Anita, and yes, very exciting to see it progress now! I usually make an A frame for climbing beans with poles around 30cm apart, planting two or three beans at the base of each pole, mostly to give the beans a chance against the slugs. When possible I’ve used the tallest bamboo canes I can find as they’ll grow as tall as I can reach, pinching off the top growth when they get too tall. This year I wasn’t able to source any poles, these are all I had left. And there isn’t space in the smaller end plots for the A frame so going for the wigwam. I have a large net in the tunnel that I’m growing Mr Ferns Climbing beans up, saved from beans harvested a few years ago. Outside I’ll be trying two different climbing beans, one for each wigwam and will be hoping to save some seeds from these two as a mixture of Irish Seedsavers and Brown Envelope Seed varieties.

  • Reply ayearinredwood May 22, 2020 at 11:36 am

    I have planted so many peas and beans this year! Gone a bit mad really, if they all crop we’ll be eating peans and beans for years to come!!!!

    • Reply Dee Sewell May 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm

      Never a problem in this house lol! The great thing about them is their ability to freeze. We were eating runner beans at Christmas that I’d collected from a community garden 18 months previously (not sure what the eat by date was on those!) I find they can be saved really easily from the polytunnel as they dry so well. Enjoy your harvest 🙂

  • Reply Richard June 5, 2020 at 12:42 am

    Hello, I really enjoyed reading your article about starting a vegetable garden, I found it very helpful. Thank you, Richard

    • Reply Dee Sewell June 7, 2020 at 11:12 am

      Thanks Richard, I’ve been following your Instagram account, great tips there too.


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