Eat / Grow

Gardening for late starters #2

Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’ve always fancied giving gardening a go but haven’t got round to it quite yet, it’s not too late to start this year. Just follow groweatgift’s guide to gardening for late starters.

  1. Don’t panic too much about germination time. If you have a greenhouse (or warm windowsill), you can still start tomatoes off now, particularly if you use a fast-maturing tomato such as Red Alert – and you should be able to enjoy your crop by August.
  2. Buy seasonal veg. Radishes, swede and spinach can all be planted out from seed in May. It’s still worth checking the back of seed packets too, as some varieties of fruit and veg can be started later than others.
  3. Plant second early and maincrop potatoes (try the Gourmet Collection that comes complete with five tubers each of Charlotte, Incan Bella and Piccolo Star and three planters for £9.99).
  4. Buy plant plugs rather than seeds. I recently posted about Rocket Gardens who do fab grow your own kits, from herbs to full vegetable gardens. However, you can also buy individual plugs and plants. If you only have indoor space to play with, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs all thrive inside.
  5. Create a salad windowbox. ‘Cut and come again’ salad leaves are great. One planting should get you about 5-6 harvests (we’re still enjoying the last of our first planting now, and have been sowing at fortnightly intervals to ensure an ongoing supply) If you want your salad sooner, you can start off with salad plugs but salad will still grow perfectly well from seed indoors at the moment.
  6. Create a herb garden. Some work better from seeds than others. Again, you can start with herb plugs to minimise risk but there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to germinate your herbs inside and still get a crop this year.
  7. Plant fruit trees. If you have the space, apples, pears and more unusual fruit such as medlar or quince can go in now, and will give you years of fruit for minimal effort.
  8. Create a peashoot windowbox. These delicious shoots are great for salads and stir-fries, and peas are incredibly easy to grow. Simply pinch the shoots off as and when you want to use them. Use dried peas from a supermarket or corner shop rather than pea seeds from a garden centre to save money.
  9. Plant mushrooms. There are some great grow your own mushroom kits around and there’s still time to start them off.
  10. Sow green manures. If your soil is less than ideal and you want to add nutrients naturally, try planting clover, rye, alfalfa or buckwheat. Rather than letting green manures flower, you simply let them cover the ground, then dig them in.

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