Green fingers for beginners
Dreaming of becoming self sufficient? Now is the perfect time to get growing!
Short on space? A few plant pots or troughs on a sunny windowsill or balcony could easily provide you with a few home grown delights for your plate. Start by filling troughs or plant pots with multi-purpose compost, ensuring there are a few holes in the bottom for drainage.
Tomatoes – look out for dwarf varieties when selecting plants or seeds. Once plants are well established, it’s best to stake them up with bamboo canes and garden string for extra support. Tomatoes love nitrogen rich soil, so a little tomato feed added when watering should encourage bumper crops.
Spring onions – sow seed very thinly in rows at least 10cm apart. For a steady supply, plant new rows every 4 weeks throughout spring and early summer. You could expect to harvest within 8 weeks.
Dwarf French beans – plant seed directly into pots, at least 20cm apart and you should see shoots after no more than 2 weeks. Beans could be ready to pull in as little as 8 weeks, and when picked often, can keep fruiting for many weeks.
Salad leaves and radishes – the easiest of all vegetables to grow. Sow seed thinly and leaves will usually appear after a week, and ready to pick within a month. Sow new seed every month for a constant supply through summer.
Strawberries – pot out infant plants into your containers, water regularly and keep in a sunny position. You could expect a crop from a month after flowering.
Herbs – for a faster harvest, it’s best to buy established plants rather than growing from seed. Herbs in general are pretty foolproof and will provide months of flavour. Woody herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary tend to prefer soil or compost with some added grit for extra drainage. Chives and mint will be fine in a shadier spot, and keeping them container bound will prevent them from spreading. Basil, coriander and parsley will thrive in full sun or partial shade.
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