1 . Find out how to grow crops in containers to maximise space
Growing your own has come back into fashion in recent years ever since it has become more recognised as a means of growing organic fruits and vegetables. After all, there is no question over the providence of food grown in your garden, and it is a simple way to encourage healthy eating on a budget.
However, not everybody has the garden space to lay out vegetable plots, or even the ground to plant crops in. In these circumstances, container growing has become the most practical choice. Planting fruits and vegetables in containers is a versatile and a simple way to grow a variety of edible crops when space is at a premium. Most varieties of fruits and vegetables can be grown between April to October as long as the right container is chosen.
Usually, where the containers will be sitting on a hard surface such as paving, tarmac or concrete, a height and a depth of at least 45cm is recommended. Anything less than this, and frequent watering and feeding will be required to ensure that the crops don’t suffer from a lack of moisture and nutrients and die off.
Some vegetables that are tall, spread out or need supports might need to be grown in a larger space. These include cordon tomatoes, and some varieties of broad bean and peas. Crops that have extra-long tap roots, such as parsnips, might also need to be grown in the open ground. However, the rest will grow happily outdoors. The most rewarding vegetables for growing in containers include:
Bush or trailing tomatoes.
Most varieties of beetroot, sown 10cm apart.
Short-rooted carrots ‘Chantenay’, ‘Caracas’ and ‘Paris Market Atlas’. Sow thinly, 2-3cm apart.
All Radish varieties, including ‘French Breakfast’, ‘Cherry Belle’, mooli radish ‘Dragon’ and ‘Neptune’. Sow at a depth of 1cm, and 2-3cm apart.
Mini lettuces ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Tom Thumb’, spaced 15cm apart.
First early seed potatoes, with one tuber for every 30cm of pot diameter.
Herbs are excellent crops to grow in pots. Have a go at growing parsley, coriander and basil.
EverEdge allows growers to design steel planters for growing edible and non-edible crops. These planters are custom built to most shapes and sizes to suit any sized garden and can be finished in a large variety of styles included painted, galvanised or Cor-Ten (a natural...
1 . Discover the lesser-known pickings you can get from your plot
Many of us grow fruit and veg for their traditional yields that can be used in many dishes. However, a large number of edibles have parts that can be used as lesserknown harvests, making sure you get the very most out of your plants and ensure a waste-free season. Take a look at these helpful pointers.
Dahlias have been bred for hundreds of years exclusively for the size and colour of their flowers. However, their tubers are in fact edible! There are those with crunchy textures akin to water chestnuts or yacon and those with flavours ranging from spicy apple to celery root or even carrot. A lot depends on the variety and the soil in which that it grew. It is believed that the big cactus-like flower types tend to produce the largest, juiciest roots with the yellow and red types generally firmer and nuttier than the rest.
You might think that your crop has been ruined if radish plants are allowed to bolt, but if you are patient then you will be rewarded with the small crunchy pods that this edibles produces in this state. They have a fantastic flavour and are great when added to stir fries.
As you lift your prized roots from the ground be sure to save their leafy green tops, too. Beetroot leaves can be used in salads and have a wonderful, subtly sweet flavour. They are also bright and colourful which will make any dish look more inviting.
If you fancy a different kind of harvest from your crops then courgette flowers are an excellent one to try. Often used in Italian cooking, these flowers will transform your cooking from ordinary to refined. Cook them in batter as soon after picking as possible.
Did you know that carrots are related to parsley? Due to this family connection, the feathery tops of this root can also be eaten in a variety of ways. Add them to soups and stocks for depth of flavour or consider sautéing with a little bit of garlic and olive oil for a different version of fresh greens.
Raspberry leaves for tea
Their juicy red berries may be incredibly inviting, but the leaves of raspberry canes can also be picked and strained. Doing so makes a refreshing and...
1 . July is a month of barbecues and bountiful harvests. New crops are ripening every day to leave our kitchen tables wobbling under their weight. Autumn can be just as abundant. Sow these 20 veg this summer to keep your cupboards packed with food.
1 Cauliflower ‘All The Year Round’ The clue’s in the name! This variety produces tight white heads over a long period. Sow seeds for tasty autumn curds. This veg can be sown in autumn, too. Start the seeds off during October under cover for an extra-early harvest next year.
2 Broccoli raab ‘60 Day’ Raab (also known as rapini and rabe) is ready just 60 days after sowing. They’ll make mouthwatering stir-fries, teamed with a scattering of chilli flakes or garlic. Make successional sowings every two or three weeks for continuous crops.
3 Spinach beet ‘Perpetual Spinach’ Fed up with your spinach bolting? Here’s an easy alternative. Warm summer sun shouldn’t cause these perpetual types to flower. Just keep the young crops well watered. The plants grow faster in warm weather, but that won’t stop you enjoying a crop when the weather begins to cool. Simply pop a cloche over late sowings if temperatures start to dip.
4 Turnip ‘Purple Top Milan’ These compact turnips can be grown as a catch crops in between your slow-maturing veg. Start them off until the end of July – you could be lifting the first crops in as little as six to 10 weeks. Harvest the speedy growers as ‘baby turnips’ when they reach golf ball size or leave them to grow on for larger, cream-coloured roots. This variety is one of the free seeds included in this issue (digital copies excluded), turn to page 59 for further growing guidance.
5 Sorrel ‘Red Veined’ This must-have leaf can be thrown into stir-fries or picked young for use in salads. Make regular sowings until late September, in rows around 30cm apart. Pick a few leaves at a time and leave the plants to re-grow for cut-and-come-again crops. Eat sparingly – the taste packs a punch and the foliage is high in oxalic acid.
6 Cabbage ‘Greyhound’ Forget over-boiled childhood dinners – this variety will have you hailing cabbages as a gourmet veg. Sow over the next few weeks then pick young plants for leafy greens. If you have any seeds left, keep a few for next spring. They’ll give you summer harvests of flavoursome, pointed heads.
1 . Learn how to grow a summer salad in one pot!
You can’t beat the flavours of a fresh salad – crisp lettuce, partnered with cooling cucumber and juicy tomatoes. Lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes are great to grow in the garden and with the hot weather almost here - who wouldn’t want to have all of these salad crops in one place? Or, even better, in one pot!
Find an extra-large pot or a container and fill it with a good-quality compost. You can also place some crocks (small pieces of broken clay pots or polystyrene) in the bottom to help retain moisture and water it well. Place the cucumber plant at the back of the pot, as this will grow tall. If you’re planning on growing a cordon (indeterminate) tomato variety, this will also need to be planted at the back of pot as these can reach up to 1.8m in height. It will however need to be provided with some support.
Plant lettuces and bush (determinate) tomato plants towards what will be the front of the pot. Bush tomatoes are best - as these will tumble down and won’t require staking. Your lettuce plants will grow to around mid-height depending on the variety. Keep the plants well-irrigated to stop the roots from drying out.
Your lettuce might need to be trimmed back to keep it in check. Feed plants with a liquid feed to make sure they’re getting adequate nutrition from the growing medium.
Your cucumbers will be ready to harvest once they’re young and tender, with a crisp skin and flesh. Snip them carefully from the plant with a pair of scissors to avoid damaging the stem.
The tomatoes should be picked when coloured and ripe. Cut-and-come-again lettuce leaves can be snipped from the plant as and when they are needed.
To make up the summer salad, collect the fresh ingredients, which will be best used straight after harvest, as these will still be packed full of flavour and nutrients. Ensure these are clean and there are no signs of pests present, such as aphids.
Chop the cucumber into rounds, and slice the juicy tomatoes. You can put the lettuce leaves in whole or tear them up. Do this just before serving so the vegetables retain their crunch....
1 . Re-live our takeover with social media star Ellen Mary for #worldwellbeingweek
On Tuesday 25th June, vegan gardener, radio show host, TV presenter, and social media whiz Ellen Mary (AKA Ellen Mary Gardening) took over Grow Your Own‘s social media accounts. Ellen shared the reasons why gardening is great for our wellbeing, which weeds are good to have in the garden, why herbs rock, and the importance of taking a moment to stop, appreciate the world around us, and breathe! Ellen’s takeover was all about wellbeing for #worldwellbeingweek which is happening all this week. Read on to re-live or catch-up on Ellen’s beautiful images and advice.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Grow Your Own Magazine (@growyourownmag) on Jun 25, 2019 at 2:06am PDT
We all know that gardening and growing your own food makes us feel good but do you know why? There are so many reasons but one is that you are much more aware of nature all around you. From the seasonal shifts to the constant checking of weather reports, watching wildlife, enjoying bird song and feeling the earth between your fingers. As a gardener, that connection with the planet is happening all of the time, which is great for your wellbeing. Not forgetting of course taking time out of our busy lives, breathing fresh air, being physically active is so good for you plus you are eating you own fresh, produce. There’s nothing better (and nothing tastes better either)!
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Grow Your Own Magazine (@growyourownmag) on Jun 25, 2019 at 3:56am PDT
One thing us gardeners always talk about is weeds! A weed to me is just something I don’t want growing in a certain place. Did you know that some common weeds are extraordinarily good for wildlife and your own wellbeing? Take Purple Dead Nettle (it doesn’t sting) for example, it’s great for bees and highly nutritious. You can eat it as soon as it’s picked or pop it in smoothies, salads, stews for a high dose of Vitamin C, Fibre and Iron. Plus, the leaves can even be used to stop a cut from bleeding…always handy to have around when pruning roses! Even common Nettle tea is great for you. So even ‘weeds’ on your plot can be great for your wellbeing.
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1 . Greenhouses are an extremely popular addition to growing spaces up and down the country. They are perfect for protecting those crops you want to keep growing throughout the winter, as well as offering growers with itchy green fingers the opportunity to make earlier sowings in spring. Greenhouses also offer summer crops a more controlled environment, which proves essential in our unpredictable climate! If you don’t already grow in a greenhouse it is well worth considering, but as this is likely to be one of the biggest garden investments you will make, it is important to make sure you choose the right one for you. What do you need to know if you are considering growing under cover for the first time? In the main, it will come down to personal preference and your budget, but there are a few other pointers to consider to help you on the way to your best growing season yet!
How will your garden grow?
You will need to ensure you have planned the spacing carefully in your greenhouse, and think about whether you will be planting in growbags or in the greenhouse borders. Prioritise crops that wont get on well outside, or those that you use regularly in the kitchen to get the most from the area you will be growing in. It will also be important to consider the differing care needs of your crops, as with any other growing space. For example, one of the key benefits to greenhouse growing is that crops aren’t impacted by the elements, but this also means you can’t make the most of natural irrigation. Under cover crops will need to be regularly monitored to make sure they aren’t drying out, and that the greenhouse is adequately ventilated.
The structure itself will also need some seasonal checks – glazing should be kept clean and monitored for any cracks or smashes on panels that may require replacing (glazing can be either glass of plastic). You may also need to add a layer of insulation to the greenhouse in especially cold weather. A greenhouse thermometer is a great purchase to help you keep track of conditions.
Heated vs unheated?
One of the questions you will need to ask yourself before you embark on your greenhouse growing journey is whether you will be growing in a heated or an unheated structure. This will have an impact on...
If you’re looking for a herb with a multitude of uses in the kitchen, then look no further than chives. The long, thin leaves pack a massive flavour punch and can be sprinkled over, or mixed into a variety of dishes. Not only does it taste great, but this crop is incredibly simple to cultivate in the garden, on the allotment or in a container. Follow this advice and you’ll soon be enjoying bundles of this versatile foliage.
Chives can be cultivated outside from April, but be sure to dig over your veg bed thoroughly and add a dose of well-rotted organic matter a few weeks before getting started. This will ensure that the earth has a workable consistency and will be free-draining. You can choose either a full-sun or partially shaded spot, but check that the ground isn’t too dry.
Sow thinly, 0.5cm where the plants are to grow for the entire season. Within three weeks, seedlings should start to spring up. Once they reach 7cm tall, thin out the plants to leave a 20cm gap between each one.
Alternatively, sow 1cm deep, indoors in trays filled with good-quality compost. A propagator can also be used to maximise germination success. Keep the soil moist and seedlings should appear within 10 days. Be sure to thin these young edibles to allow 15cm between each plant to avoid tangling weeds and hindered growth.
A month after sowing indoor crops, you can either pot your seedlings into 10cm containers or transplant outside provided that the risk of frost has passed (between March and June), leaving 20cm between each one.
Chives require very little care throughout the season. Simply water when the soil becomes too dry, and remove weeds regularly. If placed too close to onions, this crop can suffer from onion fly. However, this problem is easily prevented by keeping these two edibles far apart from each other on the plot. Container-grown plants should be potted on into bigger tubs once roots can be seen poking out of the bottom drainage holes.
HOW TO HARVEST
Simply snip leaves with scissors whenever you need them at 15cm long if they are growing indoors, and from June if they are outside. It’s best to add fresh cuttings to dishes in order to enjoy the benefit of maximum flavour in your cooking. Chives are evergreen perennials, so once...
1 . There are a number of considerations to be made when choosing the right garden building to help you make sure it is going to be fit for purpose and fulfil it’s potential. If you make the right decisions, you are less likely to need to change it down the line. There may be more steps than you originally thought, but after all it is an investment and as with any investment you want to ensure you have all the relevant information before moving forward. Lidget Compton have put together a list of the key things you should consider when choosing your new garden building.
As you’ll come to realise, purpose underpins most of the decisions you are going to make regarding your building. It is impossible to make any other decisions before you decide a purpose. Typically, we may consider a garage to be the place to store a car; however, it turns out only 25 per cent of people use it for this purpose - some use it to store garden furniture, tools, mowers and the like instead. If you fall into the 25 per cent that do, or want to, your primary concern should be that the car fits in the garage. Make sure it not only fits lengthways but also in terms of height. It’s important to make sure you have enough room to get in and out and extra for storage should you require it, if it will be a multipurpose space.
So, what do the other 75 per cent of people do with their garage? You can use the space for whatever you please. Some popular uses include, a home office, gym or storage room. Whatever you choose, make sure you keep it in mind throughout the buying and designing process.
When deciding what material to use for your building, climate should be one of your main considerations. In the UK it’s generally best to go for something sturdy and durable as the weather is unpredictable so a wooden structure may not hold up. For that reason, it’s usually best to opt for concrete garages such as a Lidget Compton Garage, so it can withstand harsher weather.
Not only do you need to consider how much space you need inside your building, but you also need to be sure you have enough space outside. Before you settle on a particular...
1 . Discover the 5 best plants to attract pollinators to visit your plot this summer
Bees and other pollinating insects are vitally important, and it’s thanks to them that we can enjoy lots of flowers, fruit and vegetables in our gardens and allotments. Sadly in recent years there has been a worrying downturn in their numbers, however by making sure we have lots of plants that are rich in nectar or pollen in our gardens, we can all do our bit to help support their numbers. Here then is a shortlist of some of our favourite summer-flowering plants that pollinators will love.
1. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
A common site in British woodlands, their thimble-shaped flowers, which are heavily freckled inside their throats, form on upright spires and offer many weeks of colour. Ideal for adding height and form to mixed or herbaceous borders.
2. Mexican Fleablane (Erigeron karvinskianus)
A long-flowering groundcover that is smothered with small daisies, changing from white to pink as they age. Drought tolerant and self-seeding in well-drained soil, it makes a low-maintenance gap-filler between paving slabs, and is tolerant of coastal conditions.
3. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’)
This compact English lavender produces dense spikes of fragrant, deep violet flowers above slender, aromatic, silvery-grey leaves. Possibly the best lavender for edging paths and borders, the aromatic foliage will perfume the air if you brush against it.
4. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii)
Freely producing its flowerheads over several months from late summer, this ‘black-eyed Susan’ will help extend the season of interest well into autumn. It also makes a handsome companion for ornamental grasses, so it is well suited to prairie-style settings.
5. Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
An elegant perennial with tall, branching stems, that carry tightly packed clusters of lilac-purple flowers from June to September. It offers height without density, and adapts well to a wide range of planting styles. The flowers can also be cut for the vase.
For more information on these plants, and to purchase, visit these links:
1 . Blake Roberts speaks to the TV presenter about how he’s using his experiences to help others, the daunting prospect of working with Monty Don and his favourite fruit to grow
“Growing up as a kid, we lived in an apartment, so whenever I’d visit my grandparents, I couldn’t wait to get out in the garden,” Mark reminisces as I sit down to chat with him. “I’d follow my grandfather around in a little blue truck with some string and a blunt pair of scissors. He’d teach me about vegetables, and about the importance of growing your own food; that ethos has always stuck with me.”
For the uninitiated, Mark Lane is a professional garden designer by trade, based in Kent, and best known for his presenting work on the BBC’s flagship gardening show – Gardeners’ World. His rise to TV fame isn’t a conventional one, however. Born with spina bifida, a car accident at the turn of the century resulted in Mark requiring a wheelchair full time, a life-changing incident that obviously took a long time to come to terms with.
A place to escape
“After that kind of accident, you hit a wall and you don’t know what to do, you go to some very dark places,” he reflects. “I’d be in bed for hours and days, looking at the same four walls until one day my partner suggested that I try going outside. “It was quite remarkable, actually. Suddenly getting to feel the sun on my face, the wind through my hair. I was focusing on the birds, the bees, the sounds, the scents; venturing into the garden you get transported to another world. For a couple of minutes, I’d completely forgotten about my worries.”
As a result, Mark found a new passion for outdoors life, and specifically for gardening and garden design. A passion that over the last couple of decades he’s managed to turn from hobby to career. Fast forward to 2015, and Mark made history by becoming the first BBC gardening presenter in a wheelchair. He’s the first to admit what a shock that initial phonecall to present the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was, due to a lack of television experience. However, Mark isn’t one for saying no, and seized the opportunity.
“It was extremely daunting and I was rather nervous the first time,”...