Grow to eat: edible gardens

Few things in the garden are as rewarding as growing and eating your own produce. With some forward planning and our expert tips, you can keep your kitchen supplied well into the Autumn. Here is an overiew of our favourite things to grow, and some tips for success.

Preparation is key! 
Once the late frosts finish with April, seedlings that have been started indoors can be taken outside. Do it gradually though, so their growth isn’t stunted by the sudden change in temperature. Harden them off by taking them out during the day only, until the nights are more temperate.

Prepare your soil or pots for planting by adding a good quality compost or manure if planting into the ground. If you are planting into pots, make sure they are big enough to accommodate the plant at its maximum size.

Most fruit and veg require full sun to do well, but there are a few exceptions, such as lettuce.


Some of our favourite things to grow
• Salad leaves are great for beginners, with rocket and spinach being particularly popular and easy. Growing them at home can save you a fortune over the summer months, and the difference in taste is incredible. Bear in mind that a packet can contain a thousand seeds or more, so don’t plant them all at once or you will have armfuls of leaves for a short time only. Instead, sow in succession every 2/3 weeks so you have a continual supply to see you through the summer months. We also have a ‘cut and come again’ variety, great for window boxes.
• Beetroot is another popular choice amongst our customers. We stock seeds of colourful varieties that you don’t see often in supermarkets, and they can be harvested early when they are ‘baby beets’ or left to mature. Their colour, flavour and rich nutrients are perfectly preserved by being roasted as opposed to boiled. Easy to grow, they also bring colour to the veg plot.
• For something different, try Chamomile. The daisy-like flowers can be used to make a relaxing tea or a cooling compress on irritated skin.
• Violas, the edible flowers that you see scattered over food in restaurants, are beautifully colourful and easy to grow. Perfect for beds, edging and pots, they flower in all but the coldest of months.

Mix it up!
If you are planting fruit and veg in the ground, why not mix them amongst your flower beds? Swiss chard can be beautifully colourful in borders, and squashes can look great climbing up a fence. Lettuce can also look great amongst flowers.

A final word on watering…
Plants in containers require plenty of water, especially fruiting plants such as tomatoes and pumpkins. Plants in the ground require less watering, but you still need to be generous in order to get good crops.

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