February 20, 2013 by
February and March are the months of the year when we start to sow seeds in earnest, particularly those that require a long growing season to ripen. Of course, this is easier if you have a greenhouse or can start seeds under cover, such as on a sunny windowsill. If you can start to sow seeds now in batches, then you still have time to sow a few more again later if you have any problems with germination.
Peppers have to be one of my favourite crops to grow as there are so many different colours and varieties to suit all tastes, such as the standard bell pepper as well as ornamental, cayenne and chili peppers. They are versatile in cooking and can be stored in many ways once harvested. Here are a few different varieties to try. Read the rest of this entry →
February 05, 2013 by
Last time, I started my discussion on how to plan your garden so that it is most productive all year round by giving advice on companion planting. Companion planting, or the practice of growing vegetables with herbs and flowers, is useful for deterring pests and keeping the soil in balance as different crops need different nutrients as they grow. However, whilst some crops return nutrients to the soil that can be used by others, if members of the same crop family are grown together in the same place year after year, nutrients can be depleted and pests will be encouraged to return. Most farmers and many seasoned gardeners follow the practice of crop rotation to improve yield, moving crop families around the plot each year in a particular order.
Even in a small garden, crops can be rotated to take advantage of the many benefits. In fact, I recently designed a system of rotated raised beds for a family to grow food on their garden patio. The children really enjoyed growing the tomatoes and courgettes in particular. Hopefully, the following advice will encourage you to try it for yourself – no excuse!
Read the rest of this entry →
January 28, 2013 by
It is the ideal time of year to sit down and think about which seeds you will be sowing during the next few months. Rather than growing the same as last year, try something new for a change and take inspiration from the range of unusual garden seeds from around the world, available to browse at www.originaltouch.co.uk.
When planning your plot, give a thought to how you could include crop rotation and companion planting in the design. The many benefits have been known and practised for centuries, such as saving space and preventing pests as well as being attractive.
Read the rest of this entry →
July 06, 2012 by
Many gardens have suffered this year due to the cold and damp weather with crops developing later than usual. Some fruit and vegetables need a long growing season, so let’s hope for a warm and bright autumn, so that they can ripen.
To help, you can cover your crops with fleece at night and remove any leaves that are shading fruit from the sun. Ensure that they are well fed and check that supports are intact.
The weather is ideal for pests, such as slugs and caterpillars, so keep applying control, such as with nematodes. Likewise, weeds can quickly take over a plot, especially if the weather has not been fine enough for you to venture out regularly.
Even with plenty of rain, it is important to water indoor plants and those growing in containers. Watering should be consistent as fluctuations can cause the splitting of fruit, such as tomatoes. Ventilate the greenhouse as a damp environment can lead to fungal disease. Rather than watering the surface of the soil, place pots in trays of water or sink a plastic container into the soil.
The late arrival of summer does mean that there is still time to sow or transplant some crops, as it always better to follow the climate rather than the calendar. If you are now harvesting quick and low growing varieties of lettuce, radishes and baby carrots, then use the space to grow a few more. Courgettes will be giving a plentiful crop this month and you should check them regularly, especially as the rain will help fruit to grow quickly and you need to remove any rotten ones immediately. Pick beans and peas regularly so that plants will continue to produce pods for as long as possible. Whilst some crops, such as runner beans, become stringy and inedible if left on the plant for too long, others are more forgiving. One of my favourite varieties is the climbing bean Supermarconi that produces long flat pods that can be eaten when mature.
Annual and biennial herbs can be left to self-seed, once you have picked enough leaves for use in the winter. Store them after drying or freeze chopped leaves in ice cubes or butter portions.