women

Growing vegetables, herbs and fruit is a popular trend these days. And you don't need an allotment or huge amounts of space to have a few small home-grown goodies of your own. Editor Jane Curran gives her top tips on how to start.


Description: Eat smart and eat well

Eat smart and eat well


I've had all shapes and sizes of gardens, ranging from two small balconies to a fully-fledged 1.5 acres with raised beds for veg surrounded by fruit bushes. For the past six years, I have been working on my medium-sized London garden.

I didn't want to give up valuable          space in the borders to veg, as I also have a major snail problem, with the garden being walled. So, a few years ago, I started to grow my vegetables in pots, which is a different challenge, especially where watering is concerned.

The joy of gardening, like cooking, is that we never stop learning. So I am passing on my tips learned so far - and am sure that next year there will be even more!

There's a real sense of satisfaction when you eat something that you have grown yourself. And home-grown herbs are superior to anything you buy in a packet, so if you only grow one thing, make it herbs. You will probably be reading this early in the growing season, which is the fun time to start planning your garden while it's still a bit chilly outside.

Window-box salads

Great success last year came from investing in some cheap, yet cute, terracotta window boxes. Just as with pots, add some broken-up old plates to help drainage. Then we used them to grow French breakfast radishes, which are so delicious when freshly picked and eaten, and really peppery. Once the weather is warm enough, they grow quickly, within a few weeks, so plant successively by sowing a row, then another one about two weeks later and so on. The other window box we used for salad mixes, the cut-and-come-again type. Again we sowed successively and had enough salad leaves to keep us going all summer. They were delicious as we snipped them when young, so they were really sweet tasting.


Description: Window-box salads

Window-box salads

Planning, for summer

Although it is too early to plant seeds for summer crops, you can start your planning and the preparation of your pots.

Peas, runner beans, French beans and mangetout all grow well in pots and look pretty, too. You'll need a large, deep pot and some bamboo canes to build a wigwam. You can then plant a seed either side of each cane. I always put in extras as some won't germinate. For a large 30-litre pot, I put in 6 canes. Then, as the climbers grow, I dig in little sticks for the tendrils to cling to. You can buy pea sticks, but I Just use whatever falls in the garden from the eucalyptus tree.

For May delivery, you can also order vegetable plants from all the major seed specialists. These will cost you more, but does save lots of time.

Planning, for summer

Although it is too early to plant seeds for summer crops, you can start your planning and the preparation of your pots.

Peas, runner beans, French beans and mangetout all grow well in pots and look pretty, too. You'll need a large, deep pot and some bamboo canes to build a wigwam. You can then plant a seed either side of each cane. I always put in extras as some won't germinate. For a large 30-litre pot, I put in 6 canes. Then, as the climbers grow, I dig in little sticks for the tendrils to cling to. You can buy pea sticks, but I Just use whatever falls in the garden from the eucalyptus tree.

For May delivery, you can also order vegetable plants from all the major seed specialists. These will cost you more, but does save lots of time.

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