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step-by-step projects

Including:

l Build a rhubarb bed l Take herb cuttings l Propagate strawberries

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FREE! SEEDS

Beautiful

beetroot! How to grow Britain’s favourite root crop

On the slime trail A new approach to

Hardening off plants

slugs and snails

Get your crops ready for planting out

Cash crops

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Editor's welcome

www.growitmag.com Published by: Kelsey Publishing Group, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG Telephone: 01959 541444 Editorial team Gi.ed@kelsey.co.uk www.growitmag.com Editor Benedict Vanheems Sub editor Martin Oldaker Designer Kate Holt Publisher Stephen Curtis Friends and contributors Rebecca Wells, Anne Swithinbank, Martyn Cox, Paul Wagland, Steve Bradley, Lucy Halliday, Dave Hamilton, Charles Dowding, Ann Somerset Miles, John Walker, Andy Cawthray, Liz Dobbs, Christopher Shein, Terry Beebe, Victoria Poolman, Angela Youngman, Andrew Haynes Advertising Advertisement Manager: Kara Goodwin Telephone: 01959 543586 Email: gi.adsales@kelsey.co.uk Advertisement Director David Lerpiniere Telephone: 01959 543507 Email: gi.adsales@kelsey.co.uk Production Manager: Charlotte Riley Telephone: 01733 353367 Email: charlotte.riley@kelseypb.co.uk Subscriptions Save money by taking out a subscription to Grow it! See offer on page 8. Distribution Problems getting your magazine in the shops? Please contact our distributors, Marketforce, on 0203 1483333, or better still, SUBSCRIBE - it makes good sense! Printing William Gibbons & Sons Limited Willenhall, West Midlands. Kelsey Publishing Group Gold Winner, Printing and Publishing, National Green Apple Awards 2006 for Environmental Best Practice by Commerce and Industry.

Grow it! magazine is printed on environmentally accredited paper which is sourced from forests managed in keeping with environmental, economic and social sustainability standards. The paper is bleached without the use of any chlorine chemicals.

In last month’s issue I don’t grow them (I confess I haven’t as yet), so started off my editorial maybe after reading Lucy Halliday’s how-to by trumpeting how grow guide on page 42 your curiosity will be spring-like the weather pricked enough to order the seed and try felt. I crowed about the them out. temperature nudging We are always told as gardeners that slugs into double figures and are enemy number one. So it was something how the warming sun as a shock to read eco-gardener John Walker’s would soon raise soil protestation that slugs are creatures to be temperatures ready for loved. ‘These amazing, tenacious creatures’, he sowing. And then we writes, ‘beguile me, challenge me and teach me endured a month of bitterly cold, unseasonal plenty’. Intrigued? I’d say so! weather! As I overheard someone saying John’s argument is that these nibbling recently, it’s like being stuck in Narnia. That will molluscs are a fact of life – don’t try to eliminate teach me not to be so cocksure in future. them at all costs, just accept they’re part of Nevertheless, the temperature simply has the ecosystem and work in a canny fashion to to rise soon and there’s certainly promise in the limit the damage they inflict. It’s a question of weather forecasts. If like me you’ve had a very late start to the growing season then the coming weeks are The coming weeks are going to be going to be one almightily game one almightily game of catc h-up of catch-up as delays earlier in the season see everything grow at once. It means working with our already present garden allies there’s little time to dawdle; it’s very much and then, just to be sure, providing natural onwards and upwards for us kitchen gardeners! defences to finish the job. With so much advice This issue of Grow it! has lots to keep you readily dispensed over slugs and snails, John’s occupied, just in case all those outdoor jobs experiences make for a refreshing read. Turn to weren’t enough. On page 76 Angela Youngman’s page 54 to discover more. encouraging us to try out a few less ordinary Slugs, bugs and inclement weather aside, types of bean – I have heard about yardlong the team here at Grow it! sincerely hopes the beans before but have never tried them. These coming weeks finally bring the strong start to gangly beans are well named and would certainly the season that we all deserve. Sow, plant and get the dinner guests gossiping over what exactly make compost. Then in a few months’ time you’re feeding your plants. I’m setting aside a you’ll be able to eat, drink and make merry! corner for them and can’t wait to see if they will indeed reach yard-length proportions. Another brace of crops to try this year is salsify and scorzonera. This duo of root vegetables belongs to the lettuce family and doubles up as incredibly attractive flowering plants. I’m not entirely sure why more of us Benedict Vanheems, Editor

In this issue...

Copyright Kelsey Publishing Group 2013

www.kelsey.co.uk

Rebecca Wells

On the allotment, p12

Steve Bradley

Greenhouse tasks, p36

Andy Cawthray

Mint propagation, p58

Angela Youngman Unusual beans, p76

Grow it! May 2013

3


64

62

FOR TASK THE S L O TO

76

68 May 2013

inside... Regulars 6 What’s new

Get up to speed with all the latest goings on and events in the grow-it-yourself world, including a summer-long festival at Kew Gardens

8 Subscribe!

Love Grow it! magazine? Then it’s time you subscribed!

10 Your say

Your thoughts, gardening observations, tips and horticultural conundrums

12 Grower’s diary

Rebecca Wells brings us an update on her Exeter allotments. Has spring been kind to her? We find out

20 Ask Anne

Radio Four’s Gardeners’ Question Time’s Anne Swithinbank answers your queries. This month

4

May 2013 Grow it!

H ow to grow be e troo t, p70

how to deal with pesky squirrels, tips on pruning blueberries and advice for a new allotmenteer

39 Competition!

Transform your productive plot or another area of your garden with handsome, long-lived wooden beds, terracing or retaining walls. We have a £700 WoodBlocX voucher to give away!

40 Free seeds

60 Appetising start

This spring's Edible Garden Show proved as popular as ever. We went along to bring you some of the highlights

62 Tools for the task

month’s free cover seeds. Read up on how to grow your fresh and tasty collection

Patio veg containers make the most of limited spaces while in many cases adding real decorative flair. Liz Dobbs reviews some popular planters and their merits

47 Reader offer

74 Young Grower

On the

COVER Vibrant veg is the theme for this

Home-grown potatoes for Christmas are possible. There’s all you need to try them for yourself in this month’s reader offer: a special Christmas Potato Set

Victoria Poolman turns recycled milk cartons into a high-rise salad garden. It’s a fun and quirky project that kids will love

50 The productive garden

Not all edible flowers are created equal. Professional kitchen gardener Andrew Haynes shares his recommendations for blooms that pack a flavoursome punch

Ann Somerset Miles introduces us to her garden allotment and has plenty of seasonal tips to help you get the most from your own garden

82 Notes from the potting shed


14 PAGES

of seasonal advice, top tips & expert know-how

The

Practical team May

Every issue our team of regular experts reveals the main jobs for the month along with bags of ideas On the

COVER

44 Features 16 Picture perfect

We sent Grower’s diary columnist Rebecca Wells to Norfolk to visit the stunning edible garden of plant photographer Gary Smith. The result is a feast for the eyes!

The fruit grower

On the

COVER

Ravishing rhubarb is the focus of Benedict Vanheems’ attention this issue; it crops over a long period and tastes sublime p25

The city grower Salad leaves, courgettes and herbs – city gardener Martyn Cox shares tips on growing and propagating these staples p28

42 The lowdown on… Salsify and scorzonera

If you’ve never heard of these two root crops let adventurous veg gardener Lucy Halliday enlighten you. They’re easy to grow and certainly very tasty On the

44 In for a penny

COVER Growing your own produce can

save you a pretty penny. Dave Hamilton interviews money-saving gardening blogger Jono Stevens for his advice on trimming food bills On the

48 Hardened fast

COVER Not every greenhouse-raised plant

needs rigorous hardening off before it’s planted outside. Charles Dowding reveals the shortcuts that can be made without harming young plants On the

54 On the slime trail

COVER Slugs and snails are an inevitable

part of growing just about anything. Rather than wage all-out war, eco gardener John Walker suggests a more pragmatic approach to their control

58 Mint condition

Mint gets a bad rap for its rambunctious habit. Andy Cawthray explains how to keep it in bounds and demonstrates how easy it is to propagate

64 A permanent solution

The principles of permaculture dictate that crops are grown in a closed system, with no waste and no external inputs. Permaculturist Christopher Shein has more on this sustainable approach

The organic allotmenteer Allotment holder Paul Wagland shows how to build an ericaceous bed for acid lovers such as blueberries p33

The under cover grower

May’s the month that greenhouse and polytunnel crops really find their feet. Steve Bradley focuses on cucumbers p36

68 Hatching the future

Raising your own chickens from eggs can be incredibly rewarding, but meticulous planning and husbandry is a must. Terry Beebe looks at incubation On the

COVER Beetroot are among the best-

selling of all vegetable seeds. Find out how to grow them and what varieties reward the most On the

5 packets of veg seeds FREE with this issue

70 How to grow… beetroot

76 Beautiful beans

COVER Angela Youngman pores over

the seed catalogues to investigate the many unusual varieties of bean. Give one of them a go this summer and try something different

10

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May 2013 / £3.95

STEP-BY-STEP PROJECTS

Including:

www.growitmag.com

● Build a rhubarb bed ● Take herb cuttings ● Propagate strawberrie

Beautiful

s

BEETROOT! How to grow Britain’s favourite root crop

Hardening off plants Get your crops

On the slime trail A new approach to slugs and snails

ready for planting out

✚ Courgettes ✚ Patio veg 001_GI_MAY13.indd

planters

CASH CROPS

HIGH-VALUE VEG TO SAVE MONEY

1

04/04/2013 16:01

Grow it! May 2013

5


What's new

Peat-free promise

Send your news stories to gi.ed@kelsey.co.uk

Your observations needed for study Scientists from the Royal Horticultural Society and the University of Reading are asking gardeners to take part in a survey designed to improve understanding of how climate change may affect gardens and green spaces in the future. Information gathered will give insights into gardeners’ expectations of climate change in the light of the recent bitterly cold winters, record rainfall levels, floods and severe droughts. It is hoped the information will help UK horticulture prepare for the challenges and opportunities a changing climate will bring. It has been a decade since the

implications of climate change on gardening has been examined in such detail, and much has changed since then. In 2002 the ‘Gardening in the Global Greenhouse’ report drew on climate models that indicated a general warming of weather. Projections led to the understanding of a future trend of increased temperatures, less frost and snow and decreased summer rainfall. It has now become apparent, based on more recent data and climate models that the scenarios projected in that report need updating. To complete the survey visit www.survey.bris.ac.uk/reading/climate3

Results from in-depth research on peatfree compost from one of the UK’s biggest green waste composters are ‘encouraging’, according to David Stainton of the University of Lincoln. Stainton has been testing products from Spalding’s Bettaland nursery over the past four years following a government announcement that all garden centres have eight years to cease trading peat-based products and switch to alternatives. Stainton explains the challenges of using green waste as an alternative to peat. “The problem we’ve got with green waste is that it comes from a lot of different sources so there is inconsistency from the start. High quality management is the key to supplying a stable product for the end user.” Commercial extraction of peat leads to the destruction of peatlands, which are important for biodiversity and flood risk management. Peatlands also act as important stores of carbon because plants do not decompose completely; the carbon held within them becomes locked Amateur horticulture into the peat. in the UK accounts When peat is for two million cubic extracted the stored metres of peat carbon is released as consumption. carbon dioxide.

DID YOU KNOW?

BEHIND THE SCENES

Spring Vegetable Weekend Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland, former home to BBC Gardeners’ World, is throwing open all its productive areas normally off-limits to visitors for one weekend only. The weekend of 11-12 May will see Barnsdale’s expert growers available to advise on veggie production – and chat about their favourite subject! Entry to the special Spring Vegetable Weekend is offered for the usual price of garden admission: £6.50 for adults, concessions £5.50 and children £2.50. For details call 01572 813200 or visit www.barnsdalegardens.co.uk 6

May 2013 Grow it!


Growing in knowledge From September 2014 gardening will be taught in all schools, a move welcomed by the Royal Horticultural Society. The consultation on reform of the National Curriculum, released recently, states that pupils from Key Stages 1-3 will be taught ‘to cultivate plants for practical purposes’ as a key activity in design and technology lessons. Sarah Cathcart, RHS Head of Education and Learning, says: “We’ve been campaigning for this for nearly 10 years so are thrilled that the Government has recognised that there is a need for children to be taught gardening at school. Our research shows the huge range of benefits to pupils, so this is an enormously significant step.”

Bee blockers Two new studies have highlighted a negative impact on bees’ ability to learn following exposure to a combination of pesticides commonly used in agriculture. Researchers found that the pesticides could interfere with the learning circuits in the bee’s brain. They also found that bees exposed to combined pesticides were slower to learn, or even completely forgot important associations between floral scent and food rewards. The studies are the first to show that these pesticides have a direct impact on pollinator brain physiology.

Incredible edibles

Feed the world

Seed company Thompson & Morgan is so confident in the sweetness of its tomato ‘Sweet Aperitif’, it’s offering a refund to anyone who doesn’t agree. The prolific ‘Sweet Aperitif’ has already topped taste tests, a fact that often pre-empts a variety becoming an established favourite. The plants can be grown indoors or out and will produce 500 or more bitesized tomatoes over a six-month period – as late as Christmas! Ten plug plants are available from Thompson & Morgan for the special price of £14.99, saving £6.99. To order visit www.thompsonmorgan.com or call 0844 5731818.

Combination Pots and of places: containers: 16% 18%

Allotment plot: 37%

Plot in the garden: 29%

RBG KEW

This summer incredible edible plants and fungi are on the menu at London’s Kew Gardens. A series of exhibits, installations, special events, activities and workshops will run from 25 May to explore the diversity of wild edibles. The festival will showcase the sheer number of edible plants visitors will find in the gardens – from vegetables in the Palm House Parterre, to coffee in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and more obscure examples such as tamarind and the Barbados cherry, used in jams and syrups. Through tasting, growing and learning about a wider range of plants and fungi, visitors will be invited to think differently about the plants and fungi we eat, as well as the wild relatives they are cultivated from. Kew works to protect this diversity and the wild relatives of these edibles. Discover the programme of events at Kew by visiting www.kew.org or for the 24-hour visitor information line phone 020 8332 5655.

Taste sensation

The vanilla orchid and can be seen in Kew’s Princess of Wales Conservatory

● Eighty per cent of global calorie intake comes from just 12 cultivated plants: eight cereals (barley, maize, millet, rice, rye, sorghum, sugar cane and wheat) and four tubers (cassava, potato, sweet potato and yam). ● However, at least 30,000 species of plants can be eaten. ● The humble bakers' yeast is the single most important fungus to our diet, being the source of many food products.

Website poll results In our first online poll we asked you where you grow your fruit and veg. Here are the results. You can take part in our latest poll by visiting www.growitmag.com Grow it! May 2013

7


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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

SPUDS

Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

Success

with carrots Say

TOP TIPS for newcomers

● Clearing new ground ● Getting rid of weeds ● How to mak e veg beds ● Sowing bac

k to basics

goodbye to carrot fly and poor germina tion!

WIN!

TOTE BAGS OF TOPSOIL

6 to give away

FREE

POTATO KIT FO EVERY READERR

001_GI_FEB13.ind

d 1

31/01/2013 12:52

2 easy ways to order

10/01/2013 12:38

Hotline open: Mon–Fri 8am–9.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm Please note that calls are charged at your local rate, for further information please check with your service provider

29

28

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GOOSEBE ✚ Exotic frui ✚ READER* R EVERY Cranberries ✚ Pot ✚FO Sweet peas ✚ Growing in small-spaces ✚ Anne SwithinbanktsQ&A agers 001_GI_MAR13.indd 1

£3.95

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trees Damsons ✚ Nut

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February 2013 /

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

e

www.growitmag.c om

Ditch the wheelie bin g

garden magazin

tomatoes FREE

PLOT PLANNING TIPS ON...

Win with

SEED How to S start a hot bed

BULBS

RAISEDsibBle EDS

Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

FIVE OF THE BEST... 1

bean

FREE!

FREE! Gourmet

*PLEASE NOTE: 3 issues for £3 offer is a Direct Debit, UK subscription offer only. You can cancel at any time in writing in the first three months and £3 will be your only commitment. If you do NOT cancel in that time, a regular quarterly payment will continue at £23.70 still saving 20% on the shop price, taken via direct debit from your bank every six months. **76% discount calculated on your first 3 issues.

43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

Free delivery direct to your door

hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

2013 / £3.95 January www.growitmag.com

magazine

S ES TIIE ET RIIE AR VA FOR 2013!

Never miss an issue

TRY THESE...

Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

kitchen garden

*Just pay p&p

Fast track to success...

Globe artichokes are so easy to grow yet so utterly indulgent. Plant some and prepare to be dazzled!

fruit grower The Practical Team The

››The lowdown on...

March 2013 / £3.95

GROWING GUIDES

Benedict Vanheems, Editor

Save 76% on the shop price**

£3 *

*Just pay p&p

EXCLUSIVE OFFER

IPTION UBSCR

for the Dig a hole deep enough with earth, whole root ball. Backfill are fully under ensuring that the roots just proud of it. the soil and the crown is

3

14/03/2013 20:07


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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

SPUDS

Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

Success

with carrots Say

TOP TIPS for newcomers

● Clearing new ground ● Getting rid of weeds ● How to mak e veg beds ● Sowing bac

k to basics

goodbye to carrot fly and poor germina tion!

WIN!

TOTE BAGS OF TOPSOIL

6 to give away

FREE

POTATO KIT FO EVERY READERR

001_GI_FEB13.ind

d 1

31/01/2013 12:52

2 easy ways to order

10/01/2013 12:38

Hotline open: Mon–Fri 8am–9.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm Please note that calls are charged at your local rate, for further information please check with your service provider

29

28

1

!

10

GOOSEBE ✚ Exotic frui ✚ READER* R EVERY Cranberries ✚ Pot ✚FO Sweet peas ✚ Growing in small-spaces ✚ Anne SwithinbanktsQ&A agers 001_GI_MAR13.indd 1

£3.95

CALL OUR SUBSCRIPTION TEAM 0845 872 7385 and quote offer code E106

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

trees Damsons ✚ Nut

FREE RRY BUSH

February 2013 /

BUDGET G ROWING

ONLINE subscription.co.uk/gri/e106

them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

e

www.growitmag.c om

Ditch the wheelie bin g

garden magazin

tomatoes FREE

PLOT PLANNING TIPS ON...

Win with

SEED How to S start a hot bed

BULBS

RAISEDsibBle EDS

Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

FIVE OF THE BEST... 1

bean

FREE!

FREE! Gourmet

*PLEASE NOTE: 3 issues for £3 offer is a Direct Debit, UK subscription offer only. You can cancel at any time in writing in the first three months and £3 will be your only commitment. If you do NOT cancel in that time, a regular quarterly payment will continue at £23.70 still saving 20% on the shop price, taken via direct debit from your bank every six months. **76% discount calculated on your first 3 issues.

43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

Free delivery direct to your door

hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

2013 / £3.95 January www.growitmag.com

magazine

S ES TIIE ET RIIE AR VA FOR 2013!

Never miss an issue

TRY THESE...

Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

kitchen garden

*Just pay p&p

Fast track to success...

Globe artichokes are so easy to grow yet so utterly indulgent. Plant some and prepare to be dazzled!

fruit grower The Practical Team The

››The lowdown on...

March 2013 / £3.95

GROWING GUIDES

Benedict Vanheems, Editor

Save 76% on the shop price**

£3 *

*Just pay p&p

EXCLUSIVE OFFER

IPTION UBSCR

for the Dig a hole deep enough with earth, whole root ball. Backfill are fully under ensuring that the roots just proud of it. the soil and the crown is

3

14/03/2013 20:07


G r ower's diary

What’s going on? Difficult weather means Rebecca Wells doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going! Nevertheless there’s good cause for optimism on her Exeter allotment as early signs of spring make an appearance

Rebecca Wells is a garden designer and keen kitchen gardener based in Exeter. She tends three full-size organic plots on her local allotment field.

I

t would be nice,” said our postman, wistfully “if we had some sun.” I could only give him a sympathetic smile as I took the rather damp letter he handed me. Last spring we were sunbathing in T-shirts and worrying about drought. This year it’s a very different story. I have been watching the news in disbelief, wondering whether I am living in the same country as the poor benighted people marooned in houses almost covered by snowdrifts and without power. Here in Exeter we have been spared the dreadful conditions which have brought other parts of the land to a standstill. It has, however, been extremely wet and winter has held on relentlessly, with leaden skies, hard frosts and bitter winds. The rain falls on already saturated ground, causing flooding and the sheep farmers are very concerned about turning young lambs out into wet and muddy fields. When someone is complaining about the rain, in Devon we say ‘well, the farmers need it’ – not at the moment, they don’t!

ks Seed se tbac The tomato seeds, sown on Valentine’s Day, grew into sturdy seedlings in the warmth of the propagator, bathed in the light of the kitchen windows. The important thing at this point in their young lives is to keep the young plants progressing steadily so that their growing is not checked. Once they have grown their ‘true’ leaves, it is time to prick them out into small, individual pots. It is also important to 12 May 2013 Grow it!

Forced rhubarb is a prized delicacy

have them in good light so that they do not become etiolated, pale and leggy. The aubergine seedlings were not as far advanced so they were left in the kitchen to catch up. I was very pleased with my stock of tomatoes in a range of different varieties, all neatly labelled. I put the small, square pots carefully into the rectangular polystyrene fish

boxes kindly donated by my local fishmonger. These act as extra insulation for the young plants in my unheated greenhouse, a sort of greenhouse within a greenhouse. The boxes were then covered with a layer of horticultural fleece, which lets in the light but affords a certain protection from the cold. A few nights later (and you know what I’m


about to say, don’t you?) we had the hardest frost that we’ve had all winter and my seedlings were no more. It is so easy to forget to check on the temperature last thing at night and dash down the garden, if necessary, to throw extra layers of fleece over vulnerable little plants. This year, however, the problem has been compounded in that we are living, temporarily, on the other side of the city while our house is being completely refurbished. Until very recently I have had to climb out of a window in order to get to the back garden. Luckily, I sowed the seeds early and I have time to start again. The propagator is full once more! The second seed-related setback was, at first, a mystery. I had sown my sweet peas, as normal, in early spring along with the first sowing of mangetout peas. They had all developed into fine young plants and I had pinched out the tips of the sweet peas to make them branch. I was amazed to find, one day, that several were completely pole-axed, lying flat on top of the pot. Further investigation revealed that they had been neatly severed at the base and the seed from which they had grown was... missing! No doubt, somewhere in the garden, there’s a fat mouse which can’t believe its luck.

New potatoes protected inside the greenhouse

My currants and gooseberries are grown as upright cordons

e Pots of promis In every cloud, they say, is a silver lining. I like to dwell on the positive. My tomato plants will not need the space in the allotment greenhouses for a long while, so that means that the potatoes can stay there as long as they like. I have planted two varieties this year, both of which are first earlies that should provide us with waxy new potatoes. One is ‘Red Duke of York’ and the other is ‘International Kidney’ which, if grown in Jersey, would be called a ‘Jersey Royal’. I plant these in large pots onto a 15cm (6in) layer of compost and cover them with another layer. As the haulms appear, I cover them again and then a second time if there’s room. When I want to harvest the potatoes I simply empty out an individual pot. They are happy to stay in the pots for some time and I do not have the problem of volunteers (plants from last year) over-wintering. It is a method which has worked very well for me for a number of years. The potatoes have been planted in our own, home-made compost and I have been heartened by how good this looks. We have two cubic metres ready for use and I have hardly made a dent on supplies. So much of gardening is magic and turning waste green matter into

such rich, nutritious soil improver is nothing short of horticultural alchemy. I’m delighted to have this richness. The potato planting, in the shelter of the greenhouse, was a welcome break after the other job of the day, pruning the currants and gooseberries. It’s a painstaking job and one which is hard to do wearing gloves. The day was cold and a bitter north-east wind scoured the field – but it had to be done! Gooseberries, red and white currants all fruit on their old wood and so I grow mine as cordons. They take up less room and it makes picking them so much easier. It actually didn’t take too long to cut all of last year’s growth back to two buds and I was pleased to see lots of stubby fruiting buds swelling already.

Rubbish (left) converted into wonderful compost (right)

Grow it! May 2013 13


G r ower's diary

g Signs of sprin It certainly felt very wintery as I worked but the signs that spring is on its way were all around me. The buds on the quince trees are already unfurling, showing young leaves and fat flower bulbs. In the cutting garden, the roses are in leaf and the tulip buds are ready to emerge from their tight leaves. These bulbs are in their second spring. The labels have ‘wandered’ and I have forgotten which varieties I bought, but they all look promising. I also found a little primrose which had self-seeded on the bank between our plot and Fred’s next door. They love to grow on banks, self-seeding where they are happy. I hope we have more of these shy, welcome flowers in years to come.

arb R hubarb, rhub

Billhooks a go-go! Horseradish ready for planting – courtesy of Waitrose!

The rhubarb we inherited when we took over our allotment is much earlier than the varieties on neighbouring plots but, nevertheless, I force a crown to give us an extra-early crop. At a time where, if you can buy it, forced rhubarb is £4 for 400g you can imagine how smug I feel with my harvest. After a time under a black plastic dustbin stuffed with straw, the etiolated plant looks very different from the ordinary, much chunkier one. Forced rhubarb is sweeter and much pinker but you need to allow the plant to recover until the

following year. We are lucky enough to have enough crowns to be able to do this. Supermarkets can be surprisingly useful to the home grower. I buy a pot of growing basil each year and carefully split the plants apart before planting them out in the herb garden. I get all I need for less than the price of a packet of seed and with much less trouble. I struck gold this month, however, in a rather upmarket store’s greengrocery department when I found some horseradish root for sale. It’s a rare find. The knobbly piece, already sprouting, cost less than a pound and I have carefully planted it up into a large pot which I shall sink, making it easier to harvest than if it were simply in the ground. When I want to use it, I can tip the pot out and replant what I don’t need. I may be able to split the root again as it grows. I’m thrilled!

ooks A load of billh

The quince buds are unfurling

14 May 2013 Grow it!

In Devon it is traditional to grow a field hedge on a raised bank and to lay or ‘steep’ the hedge every few years, a skill also practiced in some other parts of the country. It is a skill well worth preserving because the resulting hedge grows thickly, making a good stock barrier and a wonderful habitat for wildlife. Husband Andrew and I went on a course recently, run by the Blackdown Hills

Hedge Association. We spent an interesting and satisfying day, under the watchful eye of our patient tutor, wielding saws, loppers and billhooks, as well as the occasional chainsaw as we converted an overgrown mixture of beech, hawthorn, ash and holly into a neatly laid hedge. Encouraged, we entered a competition for novices, little realising that it was the second largest competition in the country, with classes for all grades of skill. Despite a sea of mud and a downpour, it was a great day and I’m very proud that we not only finished our run of hedge within the time allowed but that we came 11th out of 20 in our class. How wonderful it would be to be able to lay the hedge around our field.

Rebecca's tips

1

Apply fertiliser then mulch well under raspberry canes and fruit bushes.

2

Protect vulnerable plants. Do not plant out before the middle of May at the very earliest. Harden them off outside, closing the cold frame and covering them with fleece or bringing them back into the greenhouse at night if it’s cold . Weeds often emerge first, so get ahead. On a dry day, hoe them out or treat perennials with a systemic herbicide.

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Picture Perfect › Garden field FACTFILE

Location: Hinderingham, Norfolk Size: main garden 9.5x45m (32x150ft) Soil type: heavy clay Aspect: north-facing Key features: productive garden with greenhouse, large wildlife ponds Owners: Gary and Maggie Smith

16 May 2013 Grow it!

What happens when an enthusiastic and experienced vegetable grower also has a photographer’s eye for composition and detail? A garden that’s a feast for the eye as well as the table, as Rebecca Wells discovers

T

hese days, with so many of us moving several times in our lives, fewer and fewer of us have a long-standing relationship with our gardens but, unusually, Gary Smith was born in the house he lives in with wife Maggie. His father was an enthusiastic gardener who tended the garden and a large allotment. Gary remembers working with him as a child. “It was expected that I would help in the garden and that I would take it over, eventually.” Back then the garden was very regimented, with a path down the middle and lots of straight lines and rows. Today,

although the central path remains for convenience, the garden has a far more relaxed feel with more curves. Gary trained as an electrical engineer but over the last ten years has developed from an enthusiastic but amateur photographer into a full-time professional, specialising in photographs of wildlife, gardens and the landscape of his native Norfolk. It is natural, then, that his own garden features in so much of his work. He and Maggie live in a rural community four miles from the north Norfolk coast and they are conscious of their good fortune at living in such a lovely part of the world.

GARDEN WORLD IMAGES/GARY SMITH

Reclaimed brick paths add to the visual appeal of the garden


Their garden is wrapped around three sides of their semi-detached house, with the main part at the back. This part of the garden faces north and is surrounded by high fences so that it is late morning before the sun reaches the garden and, even in high summer, it is always shady behind the house. Gary acknowledges that the aspect is far from ideal. Noel Coward remarked that Norfolk was ‘very flat’ and I was curious as to whether the garden was windy and whether the proximity to the sea meant that the wind was salty. Gary reassured me on both counts, saying that there was enough surrounding shelter to mean that wind was not a problem

Summer abundance

A summer highlight: Pulling fresh beetroot from the beds Above left: Colourful flowers such as cosmos attract beneficial insects like hoverflies

are not only very pretty to look at but are productive and have a layer of home-made compost added each year to improve the heavy soil. Gary has had a bad experience with toxic manure in the past and now uses only his own compost, made at home in a black plastic container. At the bottom of the garden is a long, 4.8m (16ft) greenhouse made of timber on

Beds have a layer of home-made compost added each year to improve the heavy soil

a brick base that was built by Gary’s father. “We have had to replace the timber since his time but it still serves us well,” remarks Gary. “In the summer the greenhouse is full of tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers.” There are groups of differentsized terracotta pots, containing herbs which can be given the freely-draining soil they prefer and set to stand in a sunny position. The variety of pot sizes, heights and plants contained in them means that they make an interesting and flexible display. Given the heavy soil in the garden, Gary has experimented with growing vegetables in containers. Carrots, for example, have been tried in a deep tin bath but Gary finds that he is more successful at growing them in the ground, provided that the soil has been opened up to improve the drainage.

GARDEN WORLD IMAGES/GARY SMITH

The main vegetable production in the garden occurs in four comparatively small raised beds in front of the shed – two are 2.4x1.2m (8x4ft) and another two are 1.8x1.2m (6x4ft). Here Gary grows their staple summer food, including all sorts of colourful salads and vegetables such as beetroot, carrots and runner beans, together with bright marigolds, cosmos and other flowers ‘mixed in’ to attract pollinating insects and natural predators such as hoverflies. The fixed raised beds

GARDEN WORLD IMAGES/GARY SMITH

What? Allotments too?

Carrots such as ‘Parmex’ grow well in containers, but Gary prefers growing them in the ground

Bulkier crops requiring more room, such as garlic, onions, potatoes, leeks, broad beans, brassicas and parsnips are grown on an allotment on the rough parish field. Gary has had to fence the plot against rabbits but, now his crops are safe, he has a relaxed attitude towards them. He finds that once the surrounding grass has been strimmed, the rabbits help him keep it down by eating the lush young growth! It is here that Gary and Maggie have two large compost bins and also three laying hens, in a big run, which are put away Grow it! May 2013 17


Car boot sales are rich hunting grounds for the old, well-worn tools Gary prefers

Garden World Images/Gary Smith

ponds in the garden. Using lots of native plants such as Ragged Robin, snake’s head fritillary and primrose, he and Maggie have created a miniature nature reserve that teems with all sorts of wildlife. They also grow more developed or exotic plants which provide cover and an early nectar source for bees, including bergenia and Russian comfrey. Birds are provided with tables and feeders full of the normal fare like peanuts, but also specialist feeds such as black sunflower and niger seed to tempt winter visitors such as bramblings. They not only bring joy but provide subjects for Gary’s photography. “I can photograph birds from the house,” he says.

safely into their house each night to protect them from foxes. Gary explained that the allotments in the village are underused, so that he has plenty of space. As a result they are self-sufficient in onions, garlic, leeks and parsnips. The field is so quiet that he often sees barn owls flying there.

Gary and Maggie Smith’s garden is both productive and beautiful Above: ‘Victoria’ plums are very productive in Gary and Maggie’s garden

Vintage inspiration

Everyone’s garden is personal to them and Gary and Maggie’s is no different. Visiting other gardens, however, can provide ideas and inspiration and as members of the National Trust they enjoy visiting Felbrigg Hall and Blickling Hall as well as the quieter, 15th-century, moated Oxborough Hall. All these fine houses have walled kitchen gardens and Gary loves the old brick paths between the beds. It’s a feature he’d like to have more of at home but it is difficult to find enough old bricks. Car boot sales and second hand shops are rich hunting grounds for the old, well-

Back in the garden

18 May 2013 Grow it!

GARDEN WORLD IMAGES/GARY SMITH

Although Gary and Maggie do not grow soft fruit, they have some mature orchard trees in the garden: a cooking apple, “probably a ‘Bramley’, but I can’t be sure” admits Gary, plus a very productive ‘Victoria’ plum and ‘John Downie’ crab apple. The crab apple is a carefullyconsidered choice because its high-pectin fruits ensure a good set to the jams that they make. Maggie’s culinary skills are much praised by Gary and the local hedgerows combine with their garden to provide a variety of fruit for puddings and preserves. Gary’s passionate love of wildlife has seen the development of two large wildlife

A fine summer harvest of vegetables in Gary’s tailor-made wooden wheelbarrow


worn tools Gary prefers to use and to have in his photographs. He is always on the lookout for them although he says that they are becoming less common and therefore more expensive. He yearned for a wooden wheelbarrow, once a common sight in gardens but now extremely rare. Unable to find one to buy, he commissioned a carpenter friend to make one but admits that the price he paid could not have reflected the time and care his friend took.

Careful staging

Gary confesses to deciding on a colour scheme for each year and to constantly revamping and adding to the garden. As an important part of his professional work, it needs to look attractive and provide the opportunity for a constantly updated body of photographs. The timber edging on the raised beds is given a new coat of paint and the flowers chosen accordingly. This year the edging will be burgundy. The timber shed has had a reclaimed window added this winter but will remain a muted sage-green colour. Light is an important aspect in photography and the best light is often in the early morning or late afternoon. The bright midday sun is too harsh and gives too stark a contrast, spoiling the effect. By concentrating so much on his own garden, he is able to make the most of the light at all times of the day.

GARDEN WORLD IMAGES/GARY SMITH

An artistic jumble of pots containing herbs and salad leaves sit outside the potting shed

Watering the cold frame, made from recycled polycarbonate roofing sheets

Real gardening

“Some photographers use props in their photos,” explains Gary, “buying vegetables at the local shop for their shots. But you can always tell.” Instead Gary raises all his from seed, starting them off in the propagator or greenhouse and gradually moving them on to the cold frame, made from recycled

Native wildflowers such as Ragged Robin are a real draw to bees and butterflies

materials from an old conservatory, before putting them out into their final places. He operates a ‘belt and braces’ approach, sowing some seeds directly into the ground but always making sure he has some backups in pots. He saves seed from runner and broad beans, as well as garlic and shallots, but refreshes his stock regularly so as to avoid the build-up of viruses. Plastic bottles are cut down and used as cloches for vulnerable plants such as courgettes. Plants are protected by netting supported by lengths of plastic water pipe pushed into the ground to form hoops. Gary and Maggie rely on their garden to provide food for the table, as many of us do. What makes their garden different is that it also provides Gary with a fertile source of photographic opportunities. Their garden is truly a feast for the eyes and table! Grow it! May 2013 19


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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

SPUDS

Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

Success

with carrots Say

TOP TIPS for newcomers

● Clearing new ground ● Getting rid of weeds ● How to mak e veg beds ● Sowing bac

k to basics

goodbye to carrot fly and poor germina tion!

WIN!

TOTE BAGS OF TOPSOIL

6 to give away

FREE

POTATO KIT FO EVERY READERR

001_GI_FEB13.ind

d 1

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10/01/2013 12:38

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GOOSEBE ✚ Exotic frui ✚ READER* R EVERY Cranberries ✚ Pot ✚FO Sweet peas ✚ Growing in small-spaces ✚ Anne SwithinbanktsQ&A agers 001_GI_MAR13.indd 1

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

e

www.growitmag.c om

Ditch the wheelie bin g

garden magazin

tomatoes FREE

PLOT PLANNING TIPS ON...

Win with

SEED How to S start a hot bed

BULBS

RAISEDsibBle EDS

Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

FIVE OF THE BEST... 1

bean

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43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

Free delivery direct to your door

hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

2013 / £3.95 January www.growitmag.com

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Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

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fruit grower The Practical Team The

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Benedict Vanheems, Editor

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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

SPUDS

Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

Success

with carrots Say

TOP TIPS for newcomers

● Clearing new ground ● Getting rid of weeds ● How to mak e veg beds ● Sowing bac

k to basics

goodbye to carrot fly and poor germina tion!

WIN!

TOTE BAGS OF TOPSOIL

6 to give away

FREE

POTATO KIT FO EVERY READERR

001_GI_FEB13.ind

d 1

31/01/2013 12:52

2 easy ways to order

10/01/2013 12:38

Hotline open: Mon–Fri 8am–9.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm Please note that calls are charged at your local rate, for further information please check with your service provider

29

28

1

!

10

GOOSEBE ✚ Exotic frui ✚ READER* R EVERY Cranberries ✚ Pot ✚FO Sweet peas ✚ Growing in small-spaces ✚ Anne SwithinbanktsQ&A agers 001_GI_MAR13.indd 1

£3.95

CALL OUR SUBSCRIPTION TEAM 0845 872 7385 and quote offer code E106

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

trees Damsons ✚ Nut

FREE RRY BUSH

February 2013 /

BUDGET G ROWING

ONLINE subscription.co.uk/gri/e106

them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

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Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

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hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

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Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

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Benedict Vanheems, Editor

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for the Dig a hole deep enough with earth, whole root ball. Backfill are fully under ensuring that the roots just proud of it. the soil and the crown is

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Ask Anne

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED Anne Swithinbank, one of Britain’s favourite gardeners and a member of Radio Four’s Gardeners’ Question Time panel, answers your growing questions

Soured sweet peas I love growing sweet peas. My plants start off well but after a while the bottom stems and leaves turn brown. Is the soil to blame for this or am I doing something wrong? E Owen, Dyfed There are various wilts, moulds and rots which can affect sweet peas, most of which have no easy cure. Yet these usually result in the whole plant dying off. If it is only the lower leaves turning brown, we can probably lay blame at the door of soil conditions and cultural problems. As with all problems, start at the beginning and ask what the plants need. Assuming this is a recurring problem, are you using a different site for them? They could be picking up a disease like fusarium wilt from being grown repetitively in the same spot. Sweet peas are known to like a deep, rich soil but this should ideally be prepared the previous autumn

and left to settle. If you do decide to fork in some soil conditioner at the last moment, this must be well-rotted. Fresh manure or compost could be causing the problem. Raise healthy plants in pots or deep modules and plant out before they become pot bound, so they get a good start. When growing, sweet peas need to be watered in dry spells and benefit from an occasional liquid feed. Stressed plants could have succumbed to mildew, which might have blackened the lower leaves. At the other extreme, a waterlogged site would encourage root rots, so make sure their soil can drain.

Nuisance squirrels My cold frame is invaluable in spring for hardening off plants and I like to keep the lights open during the day. However, a few brazen squirrels are digging in my pots. Are there any deterrents to stop them doing this? C Hutchinson, Newcastle upon Tyne

MUFFET

20 May 2013 Grow it!

Squirrels are infuriating because, unlike rabbits, you can’t fence them out and they are nifty devils, capable of pulling and chewing at netting. Some people trap them but this is not for the faint hearted. If you opt for a humane trap, it is actually against the law to release a live squirrel because they are classed as a damaging, non-native species. It is estimated there are about three million grey squirrels in the UK, originally introduced from America in the 1800s. They have driven our smaller, less aggressive native red squirrels to the very edges of their territory (not least by carrying squirrel pox virus to which the greys are immune) and do a lot of damage to trees. Some gardeners actually put food out for squirrels to distract them from plants they want to protect, which seems a bit extreme. Others use chilli flakes, moth balls or proprietary repellents to ward them off. It is worth checking your herbs and spices for out of date items – I found some Caribbean hot pepper sauce to shake around and keep off both squirrels and badgers. You can also invest in ultrasonic devices but I’m not sure how effective they are. Otherwise, good old chicken wire?


Pruning blueberries The blueberry on my patio is looking very congested and wiry. I’m nervous about pruning it and wondered if you could offer a few pointers on where to start. Also, it is looking quite pot bound but is already in a very large container. A Davey, Monmouthshire I tackled exactly the same problem over the last couple of years. Once set up, blueberries usually crop well for about three years but then they do become wiry and need help. Don’t be nervous about pruning, because they respond really well. You need to take the bull by the horns and cut at least one stem close to the base. This will encourage the plant to send up some strong new growth from low down. I would get on and do this now but don’t thin the plant out by more than a third at once. I would dress the plants with a fertiliser for ericaceous plants and wait

until some new growth sprouts before re-potting. We had to replace our containers because the old ones had disintegrated and bought two large wooden half barrels. However, you can use the original pot. Removing the plants is the hard part, then you need to scuffle and prune some of the roots off the outside of the rootball (probably 5-8cm (2-3in) all round) so that when back in the old pot, with fresh ericaceous compost round, new roots can grow. I mix soil-based ericaceous with soilless for a good consistency, with a little added Cornish grit and top dressed with composted bark.

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lishin it!, Barn, B g Group, Cu Kelsey d ha m T erry’s H it TN16 3 il AG. Alt l, Cudham, K he gi.ed@ e e nt r n ativ questio kelsey.co.uk ely email: o n via t r su b w w w.g he Grow it! w mit a eb rowitm ag.com site:

Sacrificial plants Every year at least some of my cabbages get eaten by cabbage white caterpillars. I do cover them with netting but somehow a few manage to find their way in. I’ve heard some success can be had with sacrificial plants. What does this mean? K Welsh, Hampshire

This is the canny application of lateral thinking to solve a problem. You put yourself in the mindset of the butterfly homing in on your cabbages. The female cabbage white butterfly is determined to lay eggs, the small white singly and the larger white in clusters. They are attracted by the smell of the cabbages. Thwarted by your netting, they have to struggle to find their way in. But what if you’d left a few plants outside the netting that you don’t intend to eat? They make a much easier target, so the butterflies lay their eggs on these and go away. The caterpillars usually stay put on the plants on which they were

laid. That’s the theory anyway. Give it a go but try using a wider sheet of netting (or better still, a finer mesh) and peg it down with a good overlap on the soil so the butterflies can’t reach your crop. Sacrificial lettuces are often used to trap slugs. Slugs hide away during the day and swarm out to their food at night. Work out where they are coming from (maybe grass at the edge of the plot) and plant a row of lettuce to stop them before they get to the lettuces you want to eat. Sometimes simply scattering the unwanted outer leaves of lettuce in the path of slugs at dusk can stop a lot of damage. Grow it! May 2013 21


Ask Anne

Your questions answered

New allotment ideas I have taken on a half-size allotment plot. Although mainly laid to grass there are a dozen slim but erratically positioned beds that were clearly dug out by the last occupant. Should I take these on or start from scratch with a new layout? M Grimshaw, London You definitely need to put your own print on this new piece of territory, so design what you want on paper. This needn’t even be to scale – you can just sketch it out. You might want to get rid of the grass altogether as grass harbours slugs and needs cutting. Also weeds from the grass creep into the beds so you will always be digging and edging. Some veg growers enjoy having open spaces for long rows of peas, beans, potatoes and brassicas, while others are

happier working in fixed 1.2m (4ft)-wide beds. Decide whether you are going to dig annually or mulch. If mulching, you will need the bed and path system so you won’t be treading on soil. You might want a system of easy-care raised beds which will eventually be surrounded by boards and make posh pathways lined with weedsuppressing membrane with bark on top. Or you might, like me, prefer something more informal though harder to maintain. Think about how beds will be arranged in

sections, so you can easily effect a three or four-year crop rotation. You might want to put an area down to soft fruit. Once you have a sketch of your dream layout, I would retain a few of the old beds which are presumably up and ready to use. At least you can raise a few crops in these, perhaps up at one end of the allotment, while busy pegging out and implementing the plan at the other end. Then these can eventually be swallowed up when you get to them.

Child-friendly veg My children are fussy about what vegetables they will eat. This year I’m getting them to grow their own in a bid to change their minds. Can you recommend easyto-grow child-friendly veg that they will enjoy eating? R Banks, West Yorkshire The good news is that children do grow out of the ‘I only like broccoli and peas’ phase and, as older teenagers, eventually seem to hoover up anything. Your idea will probably work though, because our children ate a surprising range of veg including cabbage, kale and runner beans – all home grown. When other children came to tea I was often surprised at what they pushed aside, yet they all liked the beans (home-grown runners are the bee’s knees!). Neither of mine would touch a sprout though. Calabrese and peas are obvious first choices to raise at home, followed by French 22 May 2013 Grow it!

and runner beans. I’m sure they probably eat carrots and potatoes, but watching a child’s face when they see these pulled or dug from the ground is a revelation. Leave the peas and potatoes for next year now and focus on what will do best planted from May onwards. Calabrese, French or runner beans, carrots, sweetcorn and tomatoes are a must. But grow your toms under glass to avoid the disappointment of blight. You could buy in some young kale and purple sprouting broccoli plants but they will have to be covered against butterflies. If they don’t like kale steamed or briefly boiled, try frying it like crispy seaweed.


The Practical team May

Benedict Vanheems

Martyn Cox

Paul Wagland

Steve Bradley

Let the Practical Team help you get the most from your plot Magical May – a time of gentle warmth, rapid growth and easy living. In the kitchen garden this is a time of great change, with greenhouse and indoor-raised plants heading outside to their final positions and the first harvests sown earlier in the year now ready to enjoy, while careful thinning, watering and further sowings keep us on our toes. It’s a busy but invigorating time! The Practical Team will help you to keep on top of it all.

14 PAGES

OF FRESH IDEAS TO KEEP YOU BUSY

33

Paul Wagland encourages us to keep our plots shipshape with his tips on tidying, crop rotation and using a brushcutter

25

Benedict Vanheems is in the fruit garden propagating strawberry plants and making plans for a new bed of rhubarb

28

36

Salad leaves and courgettes are two summer Aubergines and cucumbers are on the menu for Steve Bradley, who shares advice on staples that no garden should be without. getting these plants to perform Martyn Cox gets them started

Grow it! Summer 2012 23

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24 May 2013 Grow it!


The Practical Team

The fruit grower

• Planting rhubarb • Pegging strawberry runners • Dealing with suckers

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

May is one of the busiest months of the year in any garden, says Benedict Vanheems, but a few hours invested in your fruit plants now will reward you with mouth-watering harvests

L

ast winter was a bit on the cool side, so you may not have a huge fruit set this spring. This means that encouraging pollinating insects is more important than ever. Your fruit trees and bushes should be humming with the sound of bees at the moment – if they are not then read on for tips on how to attract more to your plot. On early-flowering trees you might already be able to see that the little fruitlets are forming. If so, at the end of this month you can start to thin any crowded pears, plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots – but don’t worry about thinning apples until the end of June. Overcrowded fruit can lead to broken branches, undersized crops and possibly even no crop at all next year. Look out for any damaged or deformed fruits first and remove them, then aim to leave around one fruitlet for every 5cm (2in) of branch. In dry spells your main task will be watering. It is worth bearing in mind that fruit will drop automatically (and sometimes alarmingly) if plants are allowed to dry out. As a general rule fruiting plants need about 25

litres of water per square metre (five gallons per square yard) every 10 days or so in warm, dry periods. Plants such as blueberries and cranberries that prefer ericaceous compost will prefer rainwater to tap water, so prioritise them when using water from your butts. However, even tap water is better than letting these thirsty plants go without. One of the many good things about growing fruit is that after a while you start to get extra plants for free. Once strawberries are growing well, they send out runners – long stalks with tiny plants at the end. You can pot some up and tend them in the greenhouse, or easier still, peg them down so they grow in their final position. Perennial fruit plants such as rhubarb need dividing every few years, thereby providing new plants. And if you grow nut trees chances are you will find plentiful new plants germinating every spring. Pot up these bonus plants if you get a chance as they make great gifts that will be treasured for years to come. You might even encourage someone to enjoy a lifelong love of gardening.

THIS MONTH

STEP-BY-STEP

Pegging strawberry runners

1

To fill in any gaps in your strawberry bed, first select a healthy-looking plantlet with a long runner that reaches to the spot where you want to grow a new plant.

2

Cut a length of hard garden wire with pliers and bend it in half to form a peg. Push this peg into the ground over the runner to hold the young plant in place.

Early flowering trees benefit from a healthy local bee population

3

Water well and in a few weeks the new plant will put down roots and grow new leaves. At this stage you can use sharp secateurs to sever it from the runner. Grow it! May 2013 25

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The Practical Team The fruit grower

Invest in rhubarb G

rowing rhubarb couldn’t be easier and it’s the perfect place to start if you are a beginner. Plants are inexpensive and they can offer crops from the beginning of spring through to July and beyond. Once established, your rhubarb patch will offer more than enough fruit for a hungry family, so you will be able to give crops away to friends, or make delicious jams and frozen compotes to see you through winter. Growing rhubarb is a great way to make a partially shaded spot productive as this is one of the rare fruits that doesn’t prefer full sun. Rhubarb is a perennial plant and will last for many years, so it’s worth taking an hour or so to prepare the plating site well. Remove all weeds and dig in plenty of well-rotted manure or home-made compost. Bare-root crowns are usually planted in winter or early spring but container-grown rhubarb can be planted at any time. While plants may look small at first, don’t be fooled. Some varieties can grow to over a metre wide, so follow the spacing instructions that come with your chosen cultivars. Using a hand trowel, dig a generous hole for the roots and ensure

plants are growing at exactly the same level in relation to the soil that they were in the pot. Too deep and they can rot, while if they are planted too near the surface they can dry out. In the first year your main tasks will be to keep the area free of weeds and ensure plants are watered in dry spells. Also look out for any extra-thick buds which will grow into flowering stems. These weaken the plant and should be removed immediately. From the second year onwards you can harvest stems regularly, although you should always leave around five stems per plant so it has enough energy to keep producing new crops. The leaves are poisonous so on no account eat them or give them to your chickens, but they can be safely added to the compost heap. Every six years or so plants get so big that they need to be divided. It is easiest to do this in winter, when they are dormant. Use a sharp spade to slice right through each plant, ideally making it into four or more large chunks. As long as each division has a large bud, it can grow into a whole new plant.

5 to try... rhubarbs

‘Victoria’: Perfect for cooler spots, this variety is very vigorous and is ideal if you want to force an early crop.

‘Polish Raspberry’: If it’s fine flavour you’re after look no further. The greenishred stems are utterly delicious!

Rhubarb can offer crops from the beginning of spring through to July and beyond ‘Timperley Early’: For a long harvesting season this is the one to choose. Pick stems from February to October.

‘Stockbridge Arrow’: A single plant of this heavy-cropper can yield up to 3kg (6lb) of tasty, deep red stems.

Heavy-cropping rhubarb is a great choice for beginners

26 May 2013 Grow it!

‘Raspberry Red’: Unlike other varieties this one prefers full sun. It offers thick, juicy stalks with a notably sweet taste.


STEP-BY-STEP Creating a rhubarb bed

1

Choose a spot in light shade and dig over the soil very carefully to remove every scrap of perennial weeds. Space plants according to the demands of each variety.

DOUBLE YOUR FIG SEASON Victorian head gardeners used to pride themselves on achieving three crops of fresh figs a year. Of course, they benefited from huge heated glasshouses and a team of helpers. But thanks to clever breeding, home fruit growers are now a step closer to this ideal. ‘Gustissimo Two Timer’ (available from Suttons: 0844 9222899, www.suttons.co.uk) is a fig that is perfectly hardy in the UK but it offers a crop in August and then another one at the end

2

Dig a generous hole and put the plant in place, ensuring that the top of the compost that was in the pot is exactly level with the surrounding soil. Water well.

of September. This means not only do you get more figs, you can be enjoying the intense flavour of just-picked fruit for weeks on end. Like all figs, ‘Gustissimo’ is a vigorous plant and will need to be kept under control. Restricting the roots is the easiest way to ensure your plant doesn’t throw up plenty of leaves at the expense of fruit. You can plant it in a large container such as a half barrel with plenty of holes for drainage. Even better is to dig a large, square planting hole and line the bottom with a layer of rubble and line the sides with four paving slabs.

3

Get plants off to a flying start by adding a few spadefuls of well-rotted compost. A mulch around 3cm (1in) deep over the bed, but not touching the stems, is ideal.

TOP TIP

Restricting the run of fig trees root encourage he will avie crops of fruit. r

Enjoy the intense flavour for weeks on end

Remove suckers

Attract pollinators Bees are having a difficult time at the moment and many of us are seeing lower fruit crops as a result. If you are planting your borders with flowers this month, take a few minutes to choose bee-friendly options. Many old-fashioned cottage garden flowers such as poached egg plant, viper’s bugloss, cornflowers, scabious and cosmos are ideal. Herbs such as borage, lavender, rosemary and salvia are also great favourites. As a general rule, try to avoid over-bred plants such as ones with double flowers. Blooms with crowded petals make it very difficult for the insects to get to the nectar and pollen. Also make space for some later-flowering blooms such as asters and rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. Attract more bees to your garden and you will be amply rewarded with better-pollinated fruit and veg.

‘Suckers’ is the term given to the shoots that often grow vertically up from the base of trees. While it is tempting to cut them off with secateurs, it’s actually better to hold them tightly with both hands and give a sharp tug. Cutting them off cleanly can actually encourage them to grow back. These branches aren’t just untidy, they sap the vigour from your tree. What’s more if they grow beneath the join of a grafted tree, they will be a different, possibly non-fruiting, cultivar. While suckers can be removed at any time, doing it in May when the tree is in leaf means the plant is less likely to regrow new suckers from the base. You can help prevent future suckers by applying a generous mulch around the tree.

Grow it! May 2013 27


The Practical Team

The city grower Martyn Cox is gardening columnist for the Mail on Sunday and author of nine books. He has a small, city garden on the south coast.

THIS MONTH

• Salad leaves • Courgettes • Propagating herbs

Super salad leaves are fast growing and punch a fistful of flavour. Martyn Cox gets some underway and encourages us to start off that other summer staple, courgettes

I

Salad leaves don’t take up much room at all and can be cut regularly

f you live life in the fast lane there’s no point raising edible plants that take an eternity to grow or require around the clock attention. What you need to do is pick plants that accelerate into life like an F1 racing car and are ready to start harvesting within a few weeks of sowing. As far as I’m concerned no crop is as fast, tasty, good looking and rewarding as salad leaves. I’ve seen all sorts of different varieties for years and can heartily recommend anyone gives them a go. They are virtually fool-proof and so much better than the bags of leaves that are sold in supermarkets. Most packets of seed cost around £2 and contain between 500 to 2,000 seeds, enough to keep you in salad leaves for the rest of the year. All you need to do for a continuous supply is sow a new row every four weeks. The only downside, as far as I’m concerned, is deciding what to grow. There are countless

All you need to do for a continuous supply is sow a new row every four weeks different mixes to tempt you, in a wide variety of tastes, textures and colours. My favourites are those that contain piquant mustard leaves, but there are those that contain herbs, mild leaves, crunchy lettuces and brightly coloured oriental salads. What you go for largely comes down to taste, but I’d recommend trying several. Salad leaves are ideal in large containers filled with multipurpose compost. Either scatter seed thinly across the surface and cover with 1cm (0.5in) of fine compost, or sow in rows 1cm (0.5in) deep before covering with compost and watering well. Put the container in a sunny or slightly shaded spot and water whenever the compost is drying out. Although they can be sown fairly densely, seedlings won’t have the chance to fully develop if they are too crowded, so thin apart if necessary, leaving a 5cm (2in) gap between plants. You don’t need to give the plants any special treatment to enjoy armfuls of leaves. Simply snip leaves as required to keep productive and water during dry spells. Throw plants on the compost heap when they eventually start to flower and run to seed.

28 May 2013 Grow it!


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sheltered spot and provide you with armfuls of fruits to pick over summer and into autumn. Starting courgettes from seed is easy. Fill a 7cm (3in) pot with good, quality seed compost then sow two seeds on their sides, 2cm (1in) deep. Place in a heated propagator until germinated. Don’t sow too many – a single plant will easily produce over 20 courgettes. Remove the weaker of the two seedlings. When roots poke through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, move on into a 12cm (5in) container. Set plants outdoors in early summer into larger pots (at least 30cm MR FOTHERGILL’S

rowse the vegetable aisles of your average supermarket and you’re unlikely to be impressed by the range of courgettes on offer. Your choice is likely to be restricted to pre-packed baby courgettes or some anonymous water-filled truncheons with a nasty bitter taste. That’s a shame, because there are masses of different varieties available in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes – that’s right, they’re not all green and shaped like cigars! The best way of avoiding the feeble choice offered by shops is to sow seeds or snap up young plants now. Plants will romp away in a sunny,

(12in) wide) of multipurpose compost or plant them into growing bags. As soon as flowers appear on plants ensure they are kept well watered – if plants ever dry out completely, fruit will fail to swell and will drop off prematurely. Boost the production of fruit by feeding plants in pots or in sandy soil with a liquid feed high in potash on a weekly basis. To keep plants productive you need to harvest courgettes regularly to allow others to grow in their place. Expect to be doing this up to three times a week in the height of summer. Remove fruit from stems with a sharp knife, taking care to avoid cutting your hands on the spines that arm some varieties. They are best picked when young or about 10cm (4in) long. If you leave courgettes on the plant for longer they will swell up like marrows and taste horrible!

*

Pick fruits by cutting or grasping firmly and twisting free of the plant

The city grower

Courgette cornucopia

Courgette seed suppliers

● DT Brown: 0845 3710532,

www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk

● Mr Fothergill’s: 0845 3710518,

www.mr-fothergills.co.uk

Most courgettes will grow well within containers

● Thompson & Morgan: 0844 5731818,

www.thompson-morgan.com

FIVE OF THE BEST...

courgettes

1

3

‘Defender’: A popular, traditional courgette prized for its flavoursome dark green fruits. It is early to fruit. Mr Fothergill’s

2

‘Black Forest’: Classic fruits on a plant with a twist. Rather than sprawling across the ground, plants can be trained up a trellis or cane. DT Brown

‘Sunstripe’: The stunning yellow and white fruits of this courgette also boast great flavour and texture. Thompson & Morgan

4

‘Zephyr’: Looking for something different? Try this head turner with its slender, creamy yellow fruits with a distinctive green tip. Thompson & Morgan

5

‘Alfresco F1’: This prolific variety has very pale green fruit. The firm-fleshed fruits have a refined flavour. DT Brown

Grow it! May 2013 29

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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

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Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

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43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

Free delivery direct to your door

hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

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all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

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iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

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hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

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Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

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for the Dig a hole deep enough with earth, whole root ball. Backfill are fully under ensuring that the roots just proud of it. the soil and the crown is

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The city grower

ON-THE-GO HERBS

B

y now, some of you might have seen me on Superscrimpers, the Channel 4 series that dishes out advice to those who want a save a bit of money. As the designated garden ‘scrimper’, I provided viewers with lots of tips that would help them to have a fabulous garden by reusing, recycling or using stuff they’ve bought more frugally in the garden. Although it wasn’t included in the show, I could have suggested that those who love to use herbs in the garden grow their own from scratch. Now’s the perfect time to make more plants for free by taking cuttings. It’s really easy and there are many plants you can propagate in spring, including thyme, rosemary, marjoram and sage. When taking cuttings always use a gardening knife or a sharp pair of secateurs – blunt blades can tear bark, leading to infection by diseases. Choose healthy stems that don’t carry any flowers or flower buds; cuttings with flowers on will put all their energy into making flowers, rather than trying to develop roots.

Cuttings will form roots quickly when placed inside a heated propagator. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. Simply pop a clear freezer bag over the pot, secure with an elastic band and put in a light place for a few weeks until the cuttings have rooted. When you spot roots growing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the container, give each cutting room to grow by potting carefully into individual pots. Another trick to make more herbs is to buy a single plant from a garden centre and then divide it up to make several portions that can be planted up individually. Choose a wellfilled pot of coriander, chives, parsley, basil or thyme, then take the clump out of the pot and pull in half, gently teasing apart. Repeat this process until you’ve got several smaller pieces, then replant into 7cm (3in) pots. The plants might initially sulk, so avoid picking to begin with and keep well watered until they are actively growing. Herbs pack a lot of flavour into a small space and now’s the time to propagate them

*Quick jobs for MAY

✦ Thin out beetroot, lettuce, radish and carrot seedlings before they become too crowded and weak. ✦ For the best gooseberries remove every other berry to ensure those that remain have plenty of space to swell up. ✦ Don’t use pesticides on fruit trees, bushes and canes while they are in flower. This will avoid harming pollinating insects. ✦ Tie in raspberry canes as they grow and pull out any that come up too far away from supports. Apart from keeping plants tidy, this helps the remaining canes produce plenty of fruit. ✦ Splash water across greenhouse floors and benches on warm days to help raise humidity.

STEP-BY-STEP

Taking herb cuttings

1

Choose a healthy stem and cut it off at the base of the plant. Make a 7cm (3in)-long cutting by snipping under a pair of leaves. Strip leaves from the lower third of the cutting.

30 May 2013 Grow it!

2

Insert cuttings into a small pot of gritty compost. Insert four to five cuttings around a 7cm (3in) pot (these will be separated once rooted) or individually into modules.

3

Water and place inside a heated propagator. Cuttings should have formed roots within several weeks. Once they’ve rooted, pot them up into their own pots to grow on.


The Practical Team

The organic allotmenteer Paul Wagland is an RHS-qualified ardener with a passion for allotments

Hard at work on his Essex plot, Paul Wagland is making the most of the increasingly long and balmy evenings

G

ardening is all about influencing nature – from subtle acts such as pinching out unwanted plant growth, to more dramatic interventions like creating a completely different climate under plastic or glass. It is even possible to completely alter the soil chemistry in a given area. If you wish to grow acid-loving plants such as blueberries and cranberries (or ornamentals such as camellia and hydrangea) then this is the only way to keep them happy. The best way to create a confined area of acid (or ericaceous) soil is to build a raised bed big enough for your planting requirements. The construction need not differ from any other bed you might build, but the way you fill it certainly does. Use a pH Blueberries demand meter, available from any garden centre, an acidic soil that’s lower in pH to test the acidity of

your existing soil. If it is very alkaline (above pH 7.5) you might be best to remove most of it and replace it with ericaceous compost. If it is roughly neutral (from around pH 6 to 7.5) you should be able to save on the quantity of compost by mixing some of the original soil back in. Adding well-rotted manure at this stage will improve water retention, which is important for many of the ericaceous plants you will wish to grow. With time, the action of wind, rain and worms will mix your ericaceous growing medium with the surrounding soil – so a little maintenance is called for. Firstly, always irrigate with rainwater because tap water is likely to be as alkaline as your soil. Atmospheric pollutants make rain slightly acidic (an unfortunate result of industry and transport). Secondly, add a little iron sulphate every year in late winter, so it has a chance to affect the soil chemistry before the growing season gets under way. Iron sulphate is a simple chemical which lowers the pH of the soil. It has the added advantage of releasing iron, which helps to nourish your plants. You should use about 75g per square metre, or as advised on the packaging. Sequestered iron works faster but is more expensive.

THIS MONTH

• Making ericaceous beds

• Crop rotation • Using a brushcutter

As allotmenteers we are constantly tweaking nature

STEP-BY-STEP Building an ericaceous bed

1

Construct a simple raised bed out of strong, pressure-treated timber. Dig-over the ground within the bed and remove any roots, stones and weeds, just as you would for any other bed.

2

Fill the bed with ericaceous compost and fork this into the ground below. You may also wish to add some well-rotted manure if the original soil is poor, or if it tends to be too wet or too dry.

3

Each year in winter add a sprinkle of sulphate of iron to maintain the acidity of the soil. If you have a ready supply, you could also cover the ground with a mulch of pine needles. Grow it! May 2013 33

>


The Practical Team The organic allotmenteer

Rotate your crops I t can be tempting to grow the same crops in the same place from one year to the next – after all, if your onions did well this season, why change anything? The problem is that pests and disease can build up in the soil where the same plants are always grown, and the nutrients required for healthy growth will gradually be depleted. Crop rotation prevents either of these things happening and is a cornerstone of organic gardening. This technique is one of those which can seem mysterious and

intimidating to newcomers, but there’s really nothing to it. The word ‘rotation’ refers to the way each type of crop is moved from one bed to the next in successive seasons. This practice takes a little organisation on your part but is worthwhile in terms of the health of your fruit and veg. The longer you can leave the ground before replanting the same crops, the better your chances of success. Some people use a three year rotation, some wait as long as six, but four is a happy medium and fits well with the main plant families. All you need to do is divide your growing space into four and then keep each family (described below) restricted to one quarter. With each new growing season you circulate the crops, so that each quarter of the plot hosts the next family on the list. The order of rotation is a subject of great dispute, but my own preference is described opposite (I remember the sequence using the mnemonic ‘Pick Lots to Boil And Roast’). Growing the four groups in this order allows me to manure the ground really well before the hungry potato crop, add a little lime where necessary before the brassicas and then have a less nutritious, ‘used-up’ soil ready for the sparse-feeding onions and root veg at the end of the rotation. One more important thing to remember is to keep good records of what you have grown in each bed. Each season you should create a

planting plan and store it safely for future reference. As well as keeping you informed about what has grown where, this will allow you to keep details of soil treatments (for example manuring), particular successes and failures of each crop, incidences of pest attack and disease outbreaks... an invaluable tool for the organic gardener.

Healthy veg depends on part on a good crop rotation plan Left: Broad beans and other legumes fix nitrogen from the air into the soil

Three reasons to rotate

1

Soil structure: By growing different crops in successive seasons you can create good soil conditions with the minimum effort. Moving potatoes around the plot is ideal, as they require lots of digging and manure.

34 May 2013 Grow it!

2

Nutrition: If plants are grown repeatedly in the same ground, it stands to reason that the nutrients they require will be depleted. By rotating them, your plants will be healthier and so will the crops they produce.

3

Plant health: The number one advantage of moving crops. Soildwelling nasties like clubroot, eelworm and white rot will be much less likely to appear if their target plant is only present one season in four.


A typical rotation

1

2

Potatoes: Great for improving the soil structure with all the digging required, spuds’ generous foliage helps to shade-out weed growth too.

Legumes: The pea and bean family has special roots which add nitrogen to the soil – good news for the hungry brassicas to follow.

Use a brushcutter 3 Brassicas: Making the most of the legumes’ nitrogen deposits, the cabbage family will devour lots of the goodness in the soil.

4 Alliums and roots: Preferring a less nutritious soil, the onion family and root veg (such as carrots and parsnips) come last in the cycle.

Buying a shed A good shed can transform the way you use your allotment. They are obviously ideal for storing tools, seeds and equipment, they offer shelter from inclement weather or a place to change if you’ve come straight from the office. This is one of the most expensive horticultural purchases you are likely to make, so take your time over it. The traditional wooden type still has a lot going for it. It is easy to build (either from scratch or as a flat-pack kit) and can be modified or repaired. It is perhaps not the strongest of materials so many manufacturers now offer metal, plastic and glass-fibre designs. Ideally you should see your shed fully built before you buy. This gives you a chance to jump on the floor, push against the walls and generally test the build quality.

New allotmenteers often have to clear a very overgrown plot before they can get started, and with grass and weeds growing at top speed this time of year, even experienced plot holders have a lot on their plate. While I prefer to use a natural approach to gardening wherever possible, there are times when the work involved is formidable. You can save a great deal of time by using the right power tool. This is certainly much less harmful than resorting to a chemical herbicide.

One of my best ever gardening purchases is a petrol-powered brushcutter with a metal blade – ideal for chopping thick weeds and brambles. What’s more, the cutting head is detachable and can be replaced with a line trimmer, hedgecutter or even a soil tiller. This is a very effective way to save money and time if you have a large plot (or more than one, like me). While the noise and vibrations are unpleasant, the work is over very quickly and allows you to get much more done with your time.

Power tools are much less harmful than resorting to a chemical herbicide

Tidy your plot Apart from weeding beds and keeping our plots productive, we allotmenteers also have a responsibility to keep any unused ground, paths and borders under control. On many sites this will include an obligatory boundary path (often a set width) around each plot, while some tenancy agreements can include a clause to cover maintenance of any communal areas such as parking places. This is often just a case of mowing the grass, but it’s important that each plot holder does their bit to keep standards up and to prevent any seeding weeds from getting the upper hand. On my allotments I am required to keep a 50cm (20in) access path mowed around each side. Where larger, communal paths border my patch I also buzz over the grass every week or two in summer, just to help out the site stewards.

Grow it! May 2013 35


The Practical Team

The under cover grower Steve Bradley has an RHS Master of Horticulture diploma and lectures widely on gardening. He has written over 30 books on the subject and is gardening editor of The Sun.

This is the month where spring ends and summer begins. The longer, warmer days are ideal for rapid growth and development, but care’s still needed, as Steve Bradley explains

Y Bring compost and growbags into the greenhouse early to warm them up before planting out time

our plants should be growing so quickly now that you feel you can almost hear them growing. When it comes to protected cropping, this month is one of those times where it can be ‘make or break’. Until the risk of late frost has passed, there is the potential for everything to go wrong. Soft, tender plants and young seedlings grow well on warm sunny days, yet a brief period of frost just before dawn can severely damage or even kill them. This fear of late frost can create a real logjam in the protected areas, as you err on the side of caution. There is a natural tendency to keep young plants protected until it is safe to move them on, either outside or under the protection of an unheated structure. Warmer days offer the opportunity

• Planting out • Training cucumbers • Aubergines

to harden these plants in preparation for transplanting and the ventilators will be open most days (unless it is very windy). However, they definitely need closing most nights, especially after a clear, sunny day. Planting out in containers or the border soil in cool and unheated protected structures can be done by the middle of the month in most places, provided there is some provision for frost protection, be it horticultural fleece for tougher plants or emergency heating for more tender and younger ones. Crops destined to be grown in containers of compost will establish more rapidly if the compost is brought inside for about a week before transplanting is due to take place (not easy in structures already brim-full of plants waiting to be transplanted elsewhere). This warming of the root zone reduces the amount of shock which might occur during transplanting. Transplant shock often happens if compost is brought in just before transplanting and is still quite cold. Most plants will take time to recover from being transplanted into a cold rooting environment, but cucumbers and their relatives are particularly prone to root rots, especially if they are damaged during transplanting, and cold compost will only make this problem worse. Care pre-warming your compost will avoid any nasty shocks.

WARM RECEPTION

36 May 2013 Grow it!

THIS MONTH

ed Plants which ne l oi /s st po m a co 12temperature of nting la sp an 15°C for tr ing. w llo fo e th e includ ● Aubergines ● Courgettes ● Cucumbers ● Melons ● Peppers ● Pumpkins ● Squashes ● Tomatoes


his is the month when cucumbers and other cucurbits, such as melons, can be transplanted into unheated structures. For polytheneclad structures, it is wise to wait until the second half of May, just to be on the safe side. These plants tend to perform very well in polythene tunnels, where it is possible to maintain the high humidity they thrive on, especially in the early stages of growth and development. Although the crops can be rewarding, these plants do need a lot of work to grow and fruit well. Training, tying and pruning are essential to keep the plants in good condition. The most important thing is to start the management of the plants immediately after planting. It is not as important to get these plants to produce flowers low down (as is the case with tomatoes), because this would mean the first fruits might trail on the floor or in the compost. As well as getting dirty, contact with the compost can cause

the tip of the fruit to develop grey mould fungus. Removing tendrils from the natural climbers might seem like an unnecessary task, but these plants use up large amounts of energy supporting themselves. Some plants are capable of producing up to 30 per cent extra growth if they do not have to do this. Providing support helps plants, particularly melons, which can suffer damage later in the season when they are unable to cope with the weight of the crop they are capable of producing if left to support themselves. Where heritage cultivars are grown rather than modern hybrids (which are often all-female forms), there is the extra task of pollination to make sure that fruits are produced. Later on, it is worth remembering that some of these heritage cultivars will produce seed if they are allowed to ripen fully.

STEP-BY-STEP

Caring for cucumbers

1

Detach a male flower from the plant and gently brush it over a newly-opened female flower to make sure the pollen is transferred. Alternatively, use a small, soft artist’s paintbrush to transfer the pollen.

TOP TIP

The Practical Team The under cover grower

Cool as a cucumber T

If your greenh ouse or polytunnel is on the low side, train your cucu mbers or melons into a fan shape, with side shoots tr ained at angles from the main stem. This will make the mos t of the space you have availa ble.

2

Removing tendrils as part of the training process relies on these plants being tied in at regular intervals to supports, either vertically, horizontally or both.

3

In taller structures plants can be trained as cordons, with a single stem trained vertically and eventually horizontally over a path or walkway, as in this picture.

Grow it! May 2013 37

>


The Practical Team The under cover grower

Egging it on A

ubergines (sometimes known by their American name as egg plants) are increasing in popularity every year. This isn’t all that surprising when you see how much the fruits cost in the shops. They are subtropical plants and, to have success with them, you really need to growth them in a greenhouse, polythene tunnel or conservatory. They need the heat and when grown outdoors only tend to produce fruits of any size in an especially hot summer.

Right: Compact varieties of aubergine grow well in pots

Below: Aubergines need lots of warmth to grow, making them ideal crops for under cover

It is possible to order grafted plants from some young plant suppliers and seed companies. These plants usually have a longer cropping season than seed-raised plants, but they are really too vigorous for growing in containers unless there is a volume of at least 10-15 litres of compost. For this reason, grafted plants tend to perform better when grown in the border soil of a greenhouse or polythene tunnel. Seed-raised plants are better suited to growing in containers, with a number of more compact cultivars such as ‘Amethyst’ available. Whichever type you choose, the aim is to get a bushy, multi-branched plant. When the plants are about 40cm (16in) high, the growing point should be pinched out to encourage the side shoots to develop into branches. The central, main stem can be supported by sturdy, upright canes, but plants in pots and growbags are better supported by overhead wires with string or twine wound around the stem. If support is not provided, the plants usually keel over early in the growing season, due to the weight of fruit.

GRAFTED PLANT STOCKISTS ● Dobies: 0844 7017623, www.dobies.co.uk ● Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk

● Mr Fothergill’s: 0845 3710518, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk

● Suttons: 0844 9222899, www.suttons.co.uk

STEP-BY-STEP

1

Enjoy success with aubergines

Plant out aubergines into containers, growbags or border soil when the first flowers are showing and starting to open.

38 May 2013 Grow it!

2

These plants must have plenty of water and often need watering twice a day in summer. Feed well for the fruits to develop rapidly.

3

Aubergines act as a magnet for red spider mites, especially if the plants are in a dry atmosphere. Apply a biological control as soon as the first mites are spotted.


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he WoodBlocX system is perhaps the most versatile, easy-to-install and durable wooden garden structures we’ve come across. WoodBlocX is a wooden, modular, easy-to-use system that can be used to construct raised beds, terracing, retaining walls, kerbing,

flexibility and strength of WoodBlocX means decking supports and just about any you can create any size or style of bed to suit other garden landscaping. while guaranteeing a superior natural finish WoodBlocX works beautifully in any that stands the test of time. garden and can be sat directly on ground, The average project can be constructed grass or hard surfaces. Putting together the within a few short hours with full support wooden BlocX is a doddle – simply use the from the WoodBlocX team available when dowels and wedges (made from recycled plastic) to link them together. Leave out choosing your wooden raised bed. Every order comes with an easy-to-read, layer-bythe wedges and you can disassemble layer instruction booklet. We’ve got a £700 your project for reconfiguration at a WoodBlocX voucher to give away to one later date. The BlocX are made from accredited lucky reader to spend as they wish! timber sourced from sustainable forests. Manufactured to last for 20 years without any fault • Durable: Lasts far longer than other wooden structures or flaws, this is • Strength: Withstands tension forces and compression the ideal solution • Easy assembly: No elaborate foundations required for building your • Good looks: Attractive in its natural state or can be painted own raised bed • Cost: Excellent value for the length of service it brings or planter. The

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✄ ● Discover more about the WoodBlocX system, including how-to videos, ideas and details of its suitability for your garden at www.woodblocx.co.uk or give WoodBlocX a call free on 0800 3891420.

Grow it! WoodblocX Competition, Kelsey Publishing Group, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG

Q How long are WoodBlocX manufactured to last for?. ............................................................ Name .................................................................................................................................................................... Address ................................................................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................................................................................

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To enter the competition simply fill in the coupon, right, answering the question, and post back to us at the address shown. The first entry pulled from the Grow it! hat after the closing date will win a £700 WoodBlocX voucher! The closing date for entries is May 9th 2013.

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Hello, Subscribe today and receive the next 3 issues of Grow it! Magazine for just £3, SAVING 76% on the shop price! Receive hassle free delivery with every issue delivered hot off the press direct to your door - PLUS, you will never miss an issue during your subscription term.There has never been a better time to subscribe, so go on what are you waiting for? If you don’t want to miss out – subscribe today!

3

ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

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in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

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Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

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43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

Free delivery direct to your door

hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

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Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

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Benedict Vanheems, Editor

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3

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Hello, Subscribe today and receive the next 3 issues of Grow it! Magazine for just £3, SAVING 76% on the shop price! Receive hassle free delivery with every issue delivered hot off the press direct to your door - PLUS, you will never miss an issue during your subscription term.There has never been a better time to subscribe, so go on what are you waiting for? If you don’t want to miss out – subscribe today!

3

ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

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07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

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in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

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SEED How to S start a hot bed

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

FIVE OF THE BEST... 1

bean

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*PLEASE NOTE: 3 issues for £3 offer is a Direct Debit, UK subscription offer only. You can cancel at any time in writing in the first three months and £3 will be your only commitment. If you do NOT cancel in that time, a regular quarterly payment will continue at £23.70 still saving 20% on the shop price, taken via direct debit from your bank every six months. **76% discount calculated on your first 3 issues.

43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

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hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

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Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

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Globe artichokes are so easy to grow yet so utterly indulgent. Plant some and prepare to be dazzled!

fruit grower The Practical Team The

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March 2013 / £3.95

GROWING GUIDES

Benedict Vanheems, Editor

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'S EDS Y MA SE E E FR

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instructions

inside magazin

BEETROOT ‘Detr rich maroon colouoit 2’: A quality variety, with Beets are extre ring and excellent flavour. mely uniform and of good size. Ideal for sowin g the season to in succession throughout achieve a long harvest period. Average conte nt: 70 seeds. CUCUMBER ‘Mark etmore’: Enjoy crops of high quality, dark green bumper reliable outdo fruits from this or displays good variety of cucumber. It also resist it the most popu ance to mildews making Average conte lar cucumber of all. nt: 7 seeds. RADISH ‘Fren ch roots with a crisp,Breakfast’: Cylindrical-shap ed crunchy, mild flavour. Adds a different dime and sweet nsion to salad sandwiches! This s and sowing throughouis a fast-growing, easy crop for Average conte t summer. nt: 250 seeds. SWEDE ‘Mari an’: Excellent coloured and shaped, purpl e-top flavoured, yellow ped roots with goodshape and resist flesh. ‘Marian’ has a uniform ance to clubroot Can be stored and mildew. in Average conte a frost-free shed for winter use. nt: 90 seeds. PERPETUAL SPINACH: If your is always runnin summer spinach g worthwhile crop, to seed before you get a this is succulent, prolifi is the spinach for you! It runs to seed. Enjoyc, tasty and hardly ever it from summer spring. Average content: 70 seeds to .

Seeds supplied by Thompson & Morgan (UK) care tel: 01473 Ltd. For custome 688821 or email: r ccare@th www.thompson-m organ.com Standard ompson-morgan.com – Complies with EC rules and standard seeds s

e.

H NT s! MOourite XrTmet fav E N ou G

Bring a little cheer to your veg plot with this month’s collection of fresh and vibrant varieties. Here’s how to grow them

W

e’ve described this issue’s free seeds as vibrant because that’s precisely what they are – full of freshness and the cream of the crop! The collection includes must-have salads radish and cucumber, roots beetroot and swede, plus the prolifically leafy perpetual spinach. They’re all fun to grow and will prove to be heavy croppers. Give your vegetables a position that offers rich, moist but welldrained soil. Cucumbers will appreciate an area that receives full sun and that’s relatively sheltered. Don’t forget that all of these varieties will perform better if the soil is kept weed free through regular hoeing or hand weeding. Start harvesting from just four weeks after sowing (radishes), right through to next spring (spinach).

Growit! Seed

Packet MAY

5 PACKETS OF

SEEDS!

VIBRANT V

EG

Seeds supplied by

BEETROOT ‘Det roit 2’ CUCUMB RADISH ‘French ER ‘Marketmore’ Breakfast’ SWE DE ‘Marian’ PER PETUAL SPIN ACH

2013.indd 1

Beetroot ‘Detroit 2’

This quality beetroot has the richest maroon-coloured roots and exceptional flavour. The uniform roots are a mainstay of the veg plot and perfect for sowing in succession to achieve the longest possible harvest window.

Sowing:

Sow from early April to July into well-prepared, fertile soil so that seeds are 1cm (0.5in) deep in broad drills. Space seeds about 2cm (1in) apart and allow 30cm (12in) between drills. Beetroot also responds well to module sowing – simply sow four seeds per cell then transplant

40 May 2013 Grow it!

once 5cm (2in) tall, allowing 7-10cm (3-4in) between each cluster of seedlings.

Growing:

Thin seedlings to 5cm (2in) when large enough to handle. Later thinnings will be suitable for using in salads. Harvest when the roots reach about 4cm (1.5in) or more in diameter. The smaller the root, the better the quality. Later beetroots can be lifted and stored – just twist off the tops then store in boxes of slightly damp sand in frost-free conditions.

Packed for year end August 2013 Sow by 2015

5 fresh and zesty veg

SOW YOUR FREE SEEDS! Full growing


Radish ‘French Breakfast’

This crunchy, cylindrical-shaped radish will add mild warmth to any summer salad! To make an attractive garnish, score uneven cuts around the outside of the radish then place in cold water to open up into floral shapes. Radishes grow well in pots and should be sown every few weeks to maintain a steady supply of roots.

Sowing:

Begin sowing in March and continue sowing, at two-weekly intervals up until August. Sow thinly, 1cm (0.5in) deep in drills 15cm (6in) apart in soil that’s been raked to a fine tilth.

Sowing:

Start seeds off under cloches from late February or April to August if sowing without protection. Sow in September to overwinter for a spring harvest. Sow thinly in broad drills 30cm (12in) apart with seeds about 1cm (0.5in) deep.

Growing:

Thin seedlings to 7cm (3in) apart; thinnings can be used in salads or as a steamed vegetable. Harvest leaves as required, picking only a few from each plant. Keep well watered during periods of hot, dry weather. Protect overwintered sowings with cloches during very wet, cold weather.

Cucumber ‘Marketmore’

Enjoy bumper crops of quality, dark green fruits from this outdoor variety. Enjoy the cucumbers while still young and tender, picking from July to September, or protect with cloches to extend the season.

Sowing:

Sow seeds in April or May 1cm (0.5in) deep in pots or trays of good seed compost. Keep at 20°C under glass or in a propagator to speed germination. Protect emerging seedlings from direct sunlight to avoid scorching. Alternatively sow direct outdoors from mid May to June.

Growing:

Growing:

When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 3-5cm (1-2 in) apart. Keep plants cool and moist to prevent plants running to seed. Enjoy the roots from May to October.

Perpetual spinach

If you’ve previously been plagued by spinach running to seed, this succulent variety’s the one for you. It rarely bolts in its first season and will crop from summer to the following spring – that’s right, even during winter!

Pot on individual seedlings into 7cm (3in) pots of compost and keep barely moist to avoid stem rot. Maintain a warm temperature then plant out 75x75cm (30x30in) apart once the risk of frost has passed. If space is limited train the plants up with supports or netting. Do not remove male flowers as outdoor varieties need to be pollinated. Feed with a high-potash fertiliser once fruiting commences and water and mulch regularly.

resistance to clubroot and mildew diseases.

Sowing:

For best results sow into small modules or cells in May. Grow on and plant the whole module outside from June to early July. Alternatively sow thinly, 1cm (0.5in) deep in broad drills 38cm (15in) apart in soil that has been raked to a fine tilth.

Growing:S

wede dislikes being transplanted, so when large enough to handle thin seedlings to 15cm (6in) apart or plant out modules to the same distance. Keep plants well watered during dry spells and hoe regularly to keep weeds down. Protect from snails and slugs. Harvest your swedes from September onwards; the roots store really well if kept in dry sand in a frost-free shed.

Swede ‘Marian’

The uniform, purple-topped roots of ‘Marian’ have good flavour and are free of bitterness. When cut open the roots reveal a yellow flesh. This is an easy-to-grow variety thanks to its

Give your vegetables aa position that offers rich, moist but well-drained soil Grow it! May 2013 41


››The lowdown on...

Salsify & scorzonera

Grow a taste of the past with these easy-to-cultivate ancient Mediterranean roots. Lucy Halliday reveals more

S

alsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) and scorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica) have been steadily growing in popularity over the past decade due to their easy-going habits, tasty roots and long harvesting period. Any fan of root veg and particularly parsnip lovers

LITTLEMISSPURPS

All parts of scorzonera are edible – even the yellow flowers

should give these unfussy crops a try. In fact, your parsnip plot from the previous year is the ideal place for these roots, which belong to a different plant family and won’t interfere with your crop rotation system. Both will love any deeply cultivated, stone-free soil. Give them a sunny, open site; no additional fertilisers or soil improvers are needed. Sow seeds direct from April to May once the soil is warm. Salsify and scorzonera have a minimum germination temperature of 7°C. Salsify seeds are large and easiest to station sow, with two to three seeds set every 20cm (8in) and 1cm (0.5in) deep. It is better to sow a few per station and thin later if needed, as germination can sometimes be a little erratic and normally takes up to 25 days. Scorzonera can be station sown as above but with 15cm (6in) between stations and just one seed per station. Both crops then need remarkably little care – just keep weeds down. In my experience the only pest is rabbits who will nibble the leaves, yet even this didn’t stop these trusty roots cropping well!

Pale salsify roots may be a gourmet treat but they’re still remarkably easy to grow

Diversify you veg bed withr root satisfyingly d the tastes of sals ifferent ify a scorzonera. nd

You can begin harvesting scorzonera from September onwards, leaving salsify a little longer for lifting from October. These rugged roots will happily sit in the ground over winter and can be lifted as needed. The roots are a little brittle so the best lifting technique involves a garden fork sunk either

SALSIFY AND SCORZONERA: WHAT TO DO WHEN JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

Order seeds online as these lesscommon roots are more easily available from websites.

Blanch roots for their tender shoots by covering them with an upturned bucket of straw.

Put cloches in place to warm the soil for the earliest sowings which will take place in April.

Start your earliest sowings this month, station sowing seeds at their final spacings.

Continue sowing until the end of this month. Sow little and often, once every two weeks.

Apply a mulch of compost or grass clippings to keep on top of weeds.

42 May 2013 Grow it!


Fast track to success... EAT IT ALL Almost all parts of both salsify and scorzonera are edible: roots, young blanched leaves and even the flowers of scorzonera. BULK UP Perennial scorzonera roots deemed too small in their first year can be left until next season for lifting once they have bulked up.

KEEP SOWING Both crops can be sown successionally to prolong cropping. Plan ahead, as plants take between 18 and 20 weeks from seed to harvest. KEEP IN CONTROL Weeding is about all the care these crops need. Mulch around plants, rather than hoeing

side of a root, about 15-20cm (6-8in) out from the crown of leaves. Push both forks gently back, slowly and simultaneously to lift the root, then gently pull it out of the soil. Both these root crops are now popular in bistro restaurants. Salsify is known as the ‘vegetable oyster’ and has a main white taproot with quite a few fine, fibrous

between them, to avoid damaging the roots. IN A SPIN Incorporate salsify and scorzonera into your crop rotation. Despite their roots this duo are members of the lettuce family, Asteraceae.

roots covering the skin. Scorzonera roots on the other hand are black and smoother. Try this tasty duo steamed or boiled and then peeled (this saves messing with their sticky sap). A classic way to serve them is with melting butter, black pepper and a hint of lemon juice.

Top: Salsify is an attractive plant. The flower buds open to reveal pink, starry blooms

TRY THESE...

Above: Scorzonera roots are black and smooth

❖ Salsify ‘Giant’: The long white roots are very hardy yet have a silky texture. The flavour is likened to oysters and asparagus. Suttons ❖ Scorzonera ‘Russian Giant’: The largest roots boast an unusual and perhaps surprisingly delicate flavour. Suttons ❖ Salsify ‘Sandwich Island’: An heirloom variety with long

white roots. The tender spring shoots can be eaten like asparagus. Chiltern Seeds

The seed heads of salsify bear a striking resemblance to dandelions. Try saving your own seeds

❖ Scorzonera ‘Duplex’: Substantial long black roots are the reward for growing this variety. Thomas Etty Esq ❖ Scorzonera ‘Maxima’: The long, straight roots look like

giant pencils! This one’s heavy yielding and resistant to bolting. Chiltern Seeds

Suppliers

• Chiltern Seeds: 01491 824675, www.chilternseeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 9222899, www. suttons.co.uk • Thomas Etty Esq: 01460 298249, www.thomasetty.co.uk

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Check the crop occasionally to ensure weeds are kept down. Hoik out any you see.

Don’t forget to water thirsty salsify and scorzonera in hot, dry weather.

Begin harvesting the first scorzonera roots, carefully levering from the ground.

Keep harvesting scorzonera. Check your salsify, which is ready as the leaves die back.

Continue lifting roots of scorzonera and salsify throughout November.

Enjoy these delicious roots as an unusual alternative to parsnips with Christmas dinner.

Grow it! May 2013 43


Budget growing

In for a

penny

More of us are coming to kitchen gardening from a purely money saving perspective. So which crops offer the best return? Dave Hamilton interviews frugal growing expert Jono Stevens and shares a few tips of his own

T

here are many reasons for growing your own food, including better food security, reduced food miles and guaranteed food safety. It’s great knowing your food hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides and insecticides. However, a recent report claims that as many as one in four of us are now growingit-ourselves simply because it saves money. Is this really the case and, if it is, just how much money you can be saved?

Growing luxury crops

One of the simplest ways to save money is to grow crops that would normally cost a lot of money. Asparagus, artichokes and purple sprouting broccoli are just some of the vegetables that fall into this category. In years when the commercial crop fails, as it did a couple of years ago for purple sprouting broccoli, having homegrown produce proves priceless. Of course, some will argue that some of these more luxurious vegetables

should be regarded as just that – luxuries – rather than staple foods, try as you might to feed a family on artichoke hearts!

Expected savings

While garden-grown carrots may not save much over shop-bought roots, their taste more than compensates!

44 May 2013 Grow it!

Expected yield per 30cm (12in) row

Equivalent supermarket cost

Beetroot 450g Carrot 338g Cabbage 1kg per plant Radish 225g Turnip 725g French beans 200g Sprouting broccoli 1.3kg per plant Pumpkin and squash 4 fruits per plant, average 2kg per fruit Courgettes 16 fruits per plant, 100g per fruit Salad leaves 330g per butterhead lettuce Tomatoes 4.5kg per plant Sweetcorn 1.5 cobs per plant

90p 57p £1.50 68p £1.44 £1.00 £10.79 £10.08 £10.60 £1.50 £32.54 (based on cherry tomatoes) £1.50

Adapted from The Allotment Book by Andi Clevely

Crop


Saving as you grow The money savers

Fresh air and gentle exercise: benefits to growing our own that can’t be quantified

For most crops the overheads are very low; all you pay for is a packet of seeds and a little potting compost. Therefore there is nothing you can grow which won’t save you money. Sometimes it is a matter of pence but at other times it can give rise to significant savings. The chart below shows some popular crops and how much they will potentially save you. The table above proves Jono right (see page 49) – tomatoes really are where one of the biggest savings can be made. However, they do need to survive the dreaded blight, so look for blight-resistant varieties and grow them under the protection of a greenhouse or polytunnel. As additional security against blight, try to avoid growing tomatoes under vents or open windows in the greenhouse. For crops such as carrots and radishes the returns are not so high. Organic carrots do come at a premium but, in my opinion, taste far better than their non-organic counterparts. So, whereas growing your own carrots may not save much financially, they will most certainly taste a lot better than mass-grown carrots. Radishes also provide a small return but as they have such a quick growing season the savings across the year should be considerable.

On a vegetable plot, it is easy to throw money at problems rather than trying to come up with a free or cheap alternative. The table here gives some ideas of how to save money while you grow. ITEM

GET IT FOR FREE OR CHEAPLY

Plant pots

Make paper pots, clean old pots, use yoghurt pots

Tools

Buy second hand, fix old tools, inherit tools from family

Potting compost

Buy in bulk and split between friends and family, or make your own from molehills, garden compost and leaf mould

Seeds

Get free seeds from Grow it! magazine, attend seeds swaps, save your own seed

Netting

Old mosquito nets and net curtains make adequate replacements for insect netting

Cloches

Use old plastic bottles with the base cut off

Time verses money

When you consider the time invested in tending your vegetables it is hard to make the allotment or veg patch pay. If you look at just the financial return, even those in humble employment can earn more per hour working than they would save growing vegetables! Of course, if you consider kitchen gardening as a hobby and put it against other hobbies such as sports, model railways, climbing or walking,

One of the simplest ways to save money is to grow crops that would normally cost a lot

and arts and crafts then gardening for vegetables is far more cost effective. I can tell if I have had more time at my desk and less time working on the land. I usually start to get a little soft around the middle and life seems that little bit more challenging. I often feel more

stressed from days on end indoors and, of course, I have less healthy vegetables to eat! Getting out and growing is the perfect antidote for those that work from home. It means exercise and, more often than not, social contact. The exercise saves on gym membership and as you can socialise while doing so the benefits can be over and above what you save on vegetables.

Grow it! May 2013 45


Budget growing

FIVE TOP LUXURY CROPS

● Asparagus ● Globe artichoke ● Purple sprouting broccoli ● Hop shoots (most expensive, weight for weight) ● Tomatoes

Ask the expert I spoke to Jono Stevens, an expert on the financial side of allotment growing. Jono blogs about growing vegetables (read it at www.realmensow.co.uk) and particularly enjoys sharing money saving tips. His latest challenge is to match his record yearly allotment saving of £531 in his new garden veg patch.

1

2

Dave: How much would you say you saved in a good year by growing your own? Jono: I typically save around £500 a year growing my own fruit and vegetables, which includes outgoings such as seeds. I keep records, strictly weighing all my produce on harvest and comparing it to equivalent supermarket costs. I run a full size allotment and there is plenty of room. If I was growing for more than me and my wife, I’m sure the yields would be greater. Dave: What are the best things to grow from a money saving perspective? Is it better to grow expensive crops such as asparagus and salads or can you still make a saving on the basics like potatoes and carrots? Jono: For pure financial return, soft fruits and tomatoes are clear winners. Strawberries are excellent to grow as you can turn a few plants into a big bed over a couple of seasons by propagating your own new plants. Tomatoes are expensive; I harvested £70-worth of tomatoes last year. However, growing a few potatoes can save you good money as they store well and could provide you with food for six to nine months of the year, whereas the tomato season is much shorter. Growing food to save money is very much about having free food to eat all through the year, rather than high-value gluts in the summer.

It’s not just about high-value summer crops – winter veg will save the pennies at a time when fresh produce is scarce

For more tips on how to save money, from

seed saving and building polytunnels, to foraging for extras on your plot and building paths, get hold of a copy of Dave Hamilton’s book Grow your food for free …well almost (Green Books, £14.95).

46 May 2013 Grow it!

Dave: In your opinion what are the most cost effective things to grow? Jono: Veg with a long harvesting season, such as perpetual spinach and curly kale are brilliant. Both can last up to nine months and, as they are cut-and-come-again vegetables, will keep growing the more you pick them. French beans are great to grow, as they freeze well. A late sowing in July or August purely for freezing will see you through winter. I’m also a big fan of butternut squashes, as they are expensive in the shops and will store until the following spring. They’re also very versatile and deliver superb bang for your buck. One squash can provide the basis for several meals, whether in

risottos or curries, as wedges and mash, soup and even cakes. Veg that grows vertically, such as tomatoes and runner beans are also good as they do not take up much space on the plot, leaving extra room to cram in other plants. Dave: What things are essential to buy for the veg plot and what are the best things to scrimp on? Jono: The one necessity is good quality multi-purpose compost. I like to start most things off in pots as I feel it increases germination rates, which means reliable potting compost is essential. Decent tools are also worth spending what you can on. They’re lighter to use and will last longer. Don’t get sucked into buying items such as seed labels and pots. Seed labels can be made out of margarine tubs and any old food pot or plastic milk bottle cut in half can be used to grow seedlings in. Dave: Are there any other money saving tips you would like to share with Grow it! readers? Jono: It may sound obvious, but grow what you eat! I’ve more or less given up growing caulis, sprouts and carrots as we don’t eat many of these vegetables. Instead, the space has been given over to extra beetroot, squashes and French beans, which we eat lots of throughout the year.


READER OFFER ✽ READER OFFER ✽ READER OFFER ✽ READER EADER OFFER ✽ READER OFFER

Grow some Christmas spuds! SAVE OVER £6!

Yes, it really is possible to tuck into home-grown potatoes on the big day. While it may be too early to start the Christmas shopping, wise gardeners are planning their festive meal now

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ate-cropping seed potatoes are sometimes known as ‘Christmas potatoes’ because they can be saved for this time of year. With these tardy tubers you’ll be able to impress the family over the Christmas holidays. What better than freshly dug salad potatoes, served hot or cold to go with the traditional turkey? This Christmas potato set includes all you need to grow some of your very own festive spuds – just add compost and water. The set comprises seed potatoes of the salad variety ‘Carlingford’, three potato planters and two potato storage sacks. Order your set today and be prepared for your most satisfying Christmas dinner ever!

Potato ‘Carlingford’

This second early variety forms uniform potatoes that are very firm and perfect for boiling to eat hot or serve cold with salads. The short, white oval tubers are the best choice for growing for Christmas and have a high resistance to scab. You’ll receive 2kg in weight of seed potatoes. The seed potatoes can also be ordered separately for £6.30 (quote order code GI235065).

HOW TO ORDER

To order either the Christmas potato set or the ‘Carlingford’ seed potatoes separately call 01376 570000 with your credit or debit card, quoting the relevant order code. Alternatively, fill in the order form below and post to the address shown. For all orders add £3.50 to cover postage and packing. Offer closes on 30/06/2013.

ORDER FORM

Send order form (photocopies are accepted) to: Grow it! Christmas Potato Set, Kings Seeds, Monks Farm, Kelvedon, Colchester, Essex CO5 9PG. PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

PRICE

Christmas Potato Set (GI235064)

£15.95

‘Carlingford’ seed potatoes (GI235065)

£6.30

Postage and packing

£3.50

Potato Storage Sacks

Store your potatoes soundly with these two strong hessian sacks that allow your potatoes to breathe while aiding the exclusion of light. Each sack will hold approximately 18kg (40lbs) of potatoes. The Christmas potato set is yours for just £15.95, saving £6.60 on the cost of buying separately. Simply quote order code GI235064.

QTY

SUBTOTAL

1 TOTAL £

Potato Planters

Your three planters are just the job for small or urban gardens, patios and balconies, meaning anyone can grow their own spuds. Each planter has brass drainage holes around the sides and base – an essential for satisfactory results.

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Know-how The secret lies in growing strong plants, such as these cabbage, spring onion and mizuna

GOLDEN RU LE FOR PLANTI S N OUT THIS SP G RING

Many of us will be dutifully hardening off greenhouse-raised seedlings this spring but, as market gardener Charles Dowding explains, this time and space-intensive chore isn’t always necessary

T

here is so much to do at this time of year, so it’s always good to find a few reliable shortcuts. One I have found is to make some plantings outside without any hardening off of plants, taking them straight out of my (unheated) greenhouse and planting into cold soil. Without exception they have not only survived but have also grown well. So here I offer some ideas and top tips to help you achieve the same shortcut, which saves the time of taking them in and out, along with the space you otherwise need for all those plants ‘being hardened’.

2

Sow at the right time

All vegetables thrive at different times of year. When sown at their most propitious moment they have the best chance of germinating steadily and growing into strong plants that are more able to resist unseasonal cold or rain. Sometimes this means waiting a little – for instance, I sow climbing French and runner beans indoors in the middle of May and not before, so they have most chance of going into warm soil at planting time in late May or June. Basil sown in May or June grows more healthily than most basil sown in April, except in a hot spring.

1

Soil preparation

Plants establish best in soil with no weeds, which reduces slug numbers. They may struggle if any un-rotted plant material has recently been dug in, so a thorough weeding followed by surface dressing with compost is the most effective and time-saving way of being ready. If you do not have compost to hand, soil can still be left undisturbed, but the compost helps worms get busy and is the one thing I always invest in. 48 May 2013 Grow it!

Planting a dwarf French bean in surface compost. By delaying sowing the beans enjoy a healthier start and can follow on from earlier crops such as lettuce


Know-how

4

Understand hardiness

There is some confusion as to which vegetables are hardy and which are not. I recently saw a recommendation to bring garlic plants raised in pots in overnight in case of frost. In fact garlic is frost hardy, survives everything winter throws at it and can safely be planted direct into outdoor soil in autumn. So even if you had made extra work by raising garlic plants, they would not be troubled by overnight frosts; in fact they just do not need hardening off! Peas are another ultra-hardy vegetable. I once planted them in falling snow: they had been raised in modules in the greenhouse and came straight from there into the outdoor bed, which had not been covered beforehand. They were then helped by a covering of fleece after planting.

3

Strong plants will establish quicker

Grow strong plants

Slow growth is good. Using organic compost helps plants grow more sturdily because there are few watersoluble nutrients, ensuring that growth is a little slower but with stronger leaves. There are also more likely to be some nutrients still in the compost at planting time, thanks to them not being washed out. This helps plants establish at the most difficult time of their life. In 2012 I had great success with raising plants in a mix of my own year-old compost and sharp sand. I have also found West Riding Organic’s (01706 379944, www.westridingorganics.co.uk) multipurpose compost to grow strong, slug-resisting plants.

5

These moduleraised peas are ready to plant. Peas are a surprisingly hardy vegetable

Make use of fleece

Fleece is invaluable for all tender plantings and does not need laying before you plant, as the main benefit is from its protection of the plant itself, especially in spring when even on cold days the strong sun can rapidly warm soil and plants under fleece. For example last year I planted month-old courgette plants on May 16th, just two hours after a frost of -2°C when the soil surface had been white with ice. Courgettes hate the cold and are likely to be eaten by slugs if they have to endure cool, wet soil and cold winds. Although my clay soil was indeed wet after incessant rain, the forecast was for sun (!) and I took plants straight out of the greenhouse to plant that morning, then laid fleece on top of them to hold warmth from any sunshine and to protect them from the wind. It all worked a treat and there were courgettes to pick within a month when I finally removed the fleece. I also used fleece on May plantings of celeriac and winter squash, helping plants establish and ensuring excellent harvests. Mid June and this courgette has been fleeced for a month – and is thriving because of it!

Fleece is invaluable for all tender plantings

6

Care for bought plants

Finally, a small caveat: do be careful of any plants you buy, in case they are less strong than the examples I give here. Modern greenhouses and composts have been precisely formulated to provide ideal conditions, but this can result in plants being less hardy than those you raise, even though your plants may look less impressive. As an example I bought a fine-looking thyme plant that only went and died the following winter. Then I sowed my own and it is still going nine years later! Bought plants probably do need some hardening off, although I can recommend Delfland Nurseries (01354 740553, www.organicplants. co.uk) for strong plants, which I plant as soon as they arrive by post. Maybe the parcel journey is a kind of hardening off in itself! Grow it! May 2013 49


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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

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42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

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25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

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26 April 2013 Grow it!

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in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

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easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

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It’s easy – we show how!

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

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SEED How to S start a hot bed

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

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hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

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42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

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iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

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07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

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in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

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easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

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Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

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✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

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hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

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14/03/2013 20:07


Practical ideas

e v i t c u d o r P The

GARDEN

A compendium of inspiration

...with Cotswold gardener Ann Somerset Miles.

As the garden continues to evolve, Ann Somerset Miles introduces the sixth area of her productive plots ver the last five issues I have introduced you to most of my garden – the Courtyard Potager, Square Foot Plot, Eco Garden, Physic Garden and, last month, our orchard. The first four can only be described as ‘miniature’, fitting as much as I can into small spaces and each different. The orchard is vast – there are wild areas and even miniaturised patches of bulbs and wildflowers between the fruit trees. This is all for a purpose (to encourage biodiversity) and because I love them! Interesting as my small plots are to me, they could never have produced all the crops we as a family of five required. This was the job of the sixth and final area, an allotmentsized vegetable plot meticulously maintained by my husband who prefers to work on a much larger scale anyway. The children have left home (the third in 1992) and now have families of their own but the veg plot has persisted, producing

O

My husband prepares the veg plot for spring sowings

far more than we now need. The veg plot is not my domain at all – there’s no interference from me in what we grow, though I help by raising plants in the greenhouse and planting them out. It’s a difficult site, shaded on the south by a neighbour’s out-ofcontrol leylandii hedge and raked by easterly winds for much of the year (a more recent phenomena, though not helped by the removal by other neighbours of another hedge that had acted as a shelterbelt). As for the soil, it’s a continual problem. Our

house and its acre date back to the late 1500s and, as the property was for many years a farm and then an inn, the site we chose for vegetables had been used as a dump for cinders, broken roofing slates, stone from pigsties, old glass and crockery. A cart track once ran through part of it. No matter how carefully we cultivate, we cannot eradicate this flotsam. We used to pay the children 1p per bucket to ‘harvest’ it; the activity eventually palled even when we increased the rate to 5p (or they

We produce far more than we consume, but the joy of fresh food is worth the work Straight rows allow for meticulous weeding via the hoe

50 May 2013 Grow it!


TOP TIP

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Our large allotment-style vegetable plot as it stands today

A B

Vegetables are grown in traditional-style rows

C D

Strong supports are a must in our windy location

were too busy helping to re-build the house). The ground still seems as dirty as ever. The stone was – and still is – useful; it adds drainage at the bottom of pots and other containers and the larger spoil is used as infill when building walls. The soil is at least rich, basically consisting of blue lias clay over limestone. This we kept fertile with well-rotted composted manure from the henhouse (a large brick-built shed) and trailer-loads of decayed vegetative rubbish we collect from a local recycling depot. Rotovating the plot begins as soon as the soil is fit, this year in early March. We are never free of re-emerging weeds but feed chickweed to the hens and compost the remaining annual weeds when hoeing between the widely-spaced rows. We certainly produce far more than we can consume, but the joy of fresh food is worth all the work.

On the vege table plot A: Being 500 feet above sea level and having a cold, wet, clay soil on a north-easterlyfacing slope, we cannot make an early start on the main vegetable plot. Seed would simply rot or not germinate at all. It takes longer than average to germinate anyway. Much of what we grow is started in the greenhouse and transplanted when conditions are favourable. The sheltering orchard shields us from late easterly winds, while my husband’s loving care and attention brings crops to perfection – in a good year! Last year was disastrous. B: By the end of June all

should be flourishing – and we would be enjoying our first new potatoes. ‘Foremost’ best suits our soil; we have trialled many varieties over the years

The sign of a job well done – lots of delicious produce!

but always return to vegetables that produce flavoursome produce with little trouble. The neighbour cooperated and kept her hedge to a reasonable height, allowing sunshine across the whole plot. Weeding begins once seedlings are well established and thinning is kept to a minimum, which means that harvesting time is spread over a number of weeks.

C: Strong winds swirling from the surrounding hills and up the valley can wreak havoc with taller crops, but tall varieties are often the most productive. Rows of ‘Enorma’ runner beans need really strong staking, reinforced to save the whole lot being blown over during summer gales. Everything needs staking early – supports, strings and frames being put into place when plants are only

around 15cm (6in) high. We only water at transplant stage, in the evenings, and using a liberal volume just at soil level. No leaf-burn occurs and we only use ‘harvested’ water.

D: And so to the harvest,

here displayed in old wine boxes along with herbs from the physic garden and fruit from the orchard. I have to admit that this mouth-watering display occurred nearly 30 years ago, when summers seemed hotter and more benign. It was an idyllic time. We were much younger, in good health and with boundless energy! It’s something to think about when designing a garden. The vegetable plot is the only part of our acre that has not been adapted over the 44 years we have been here. As to the future?

Grow it! May 2013 51


Practical ideas Wildlife warning In creating safe havens for our young plants we may inadvertently harm the wildlife that we are trying to encourage. One of the worst offenders is netting. Do not let it hang loose over the edge of raised beds, or bundled over the earth, but peg it taught so small creatures cannot become entangled. Luckily I was in time to rescue this lovely toad which had hibernated under the wood pile, but sadly could not save a robin that had tried to hop into the fruit bed for tiny caterpillars. I was mortified. Use tent pegs pushed right down into the soil.

TOP TIP

for Make ponds safe ogs. eh dg he ry ng hu slugst lea at e's er th Ensure into the one shallow bank ehogs water so that hedgould can climb out sh they fall in.

In the kitchen Harvest rainwater Gardeners are aware of the need to conserve water but may think that after an incredibly wet 12 months we have sufficient to become profligate! Not so. Save every precious drop by installing water butts or other suitable containers in all available spots. Here we have used a discarded catering-quality barrel that once held lemon peel to catch water off the barn roof. An overflow pipe can be directed into another barrel, or connected to a hosepipe to water new transplants in the veg plot. This is one of many such contraptions located around our various buildings.

Parsley must surely be the cook’s most useful herb. But it is very slow to germinate and needs a really warm soil. Once you have it established, let some of the plants run to seed. Self-sown seeds germinate all the more easily and should self-perpetuate. An easystart method however is to keep buying those pots of live herbs from the supermarket. Stand the pot in a dish of water on the windowsill and keep moist; cut as needed. Don’t pluck all the leaves and transplant picked over plants into your herb bed. Keep buying more until your sown seeds are useable. I now have a new parsley bed from last winter’s purchases.

STEP-BY-STEP Grow some curcurbits

1

Large curcurbit (courgette, squash, pumpkin etc) seeds are easy to handle. Sow them on edge, singly into pots of seed compost in the greenhouse or on a windowsill. Place pots into a deep tray, water from below and cover.

52 May 2013 Grow it!

2

Once germinated and the first true leaves have appeared, keep well-moist and harden off outdoors. Transplant when all danger of frost has past, watering the planting hole with diluted liquid seaweed feed.

3

Bush varieties need approximately 1m (3ft) square of space. Trailing varieties can be pegged into a circle on the ground or trained up posts or a trellis – tie in the growing shoot with soft twine.


Row protection: It’s really easy to

make your own protective ‘square hoop’ cloches to keep birds off young peas, salads and other emerging seedlings. Measure the height and width needed then, for each hoop, simply nail a length of soft wood across two uprights. Protect wood with marine-grade varnish. Make sufficient hoops to space along a row and once the varnish is dry, press the frames into the ground and cover with netting (or netting and fleece). But please do heed my warning about the potential dangers to wildlife.

Edible flowers: Find a patch  where you can sow some edible annual flowers which will add colour and a delicate flavour to salad dishes. Favourites are calendula (pot marigold), borage, dianthus, daisies, nasturtium and annual cornflower. Sow direct into moist, finely raked soil and cover lightly with a mixture of sifted sand and compost. Visit www.theedibleflowershop. co.uk for seeds.

May miscellany

Make a birdbath: Wild birds need water all year round and particularly during the breeding period. Create something inexpensive by standing a large terracotta plant saucer on top of a chimney pot. Buy the saucer from a garden centre and the pot from a builder’s merchant. If necessary, stand the pot on some building blocks to add height. Keep topped up with rainwater and clean it regularly.

Keep beaks clean:

Be inspired: So many ideas can be

gained from visiting garden shows and exhibitions. Show gardens especially can be an eye-opener, particularly when created by a well-known and established designer. Consider any of the Royal Horticultural Society’s shows at Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace or Tatton Park. Or how about the imminent Malvern Spring Gardening Show, held on 9-12 May? This inspiring garden

from a past show pictured here uses only edible plants yet is perfect in its design and functionality. If you’ve never before been to such an event, take a look at my blog site http://annsmalvernjotter.blogspot.co.uk which guides you through a visit to such a show. And take a peek at ‘Grandma’s Garden Notes’, which expands the themes of this month’s feature: http://asmwriter. blogspot.co.uk

Clean birdfeeders regularly with a proprietary cleanser. This will keep any lurking pathogens in check and wild birds safe.

NEXT ISSUE • Update on Ann’s plots • Garden structures • Wildlife ponds • Recycling containers

Grow it! May 2013 53


PARTO3A:CH

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R A NEW APP AND TO SLUGS SNAILS

GREEN NG

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✽ GROW

✽ GROW

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GREEN G N

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ON THE SLIME TRAIL

With our recent wet summers, we need to adopt more of a ‘whole garden’ approach when it comes to curtailing the ravages of slugs and snail, says John Walker

hether they’re sliding in and out of the gaps in my slate walls, chomping on the contents of my compost bins, or abseiling on glistening threads from my greenhouse roof, I love slugs. These amazing, tenacious creatures are part of the dynamic, interconnected ecosystem of my garden. They beguile me, challenge me and teach me plenty – not least how to be a cannier, more thoughtful gardener. And when they graze on the algae that North Wales’ weather grows so well, they even do a spot of window-cleaning for me. Love is rarely all plain sailing and so it is with slugs (and to a lesser extent here, snails). Much as I admire slugs’ tireless determination, not to mention their powers of proliferation, there are times when, as their attention turns to my plants,

that affection curdles. But as I’m in no rush to unduly sour my benign feelings toward them, and as they’re never going away, I’ve adopted a more ‘whole garden’ approach to living with slugs. If record-breaking wet and slug-heaven summers like last year’s are going to become more frequent – and with a changing climate there’s strong evidence to suggest they are – then a more joinedup approach seems a good move. That’s not to say there won’t be some casualties along the way, especially when love turns to hate, but I’m determined that me or my crops won’t be among them.

‘Whole garden’ thinking

It is drummed into us that slugs and snails mean trouble for gardeners and that extermination is the only option. There’s no doubt slugs can devastate our gardening efforts but

Slugs come in all colours and sizes, but it’s the smaller species that tend to be more numerous and do most damage

it’s worth stopping to consider where the real problem lies. Are slugs hell-bent on seeking and destroying our crops, or are we, by modifying patches of earth, by making our gardens, simply setting our cosseted plants up for an inevitable fall? Slugs might eat our plants but there are

Slugs: Can we learn to love them?

54 May 2013 Grow it!


plenty of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, mammals and other garden inhabitants queuing up along the food chain to eat slugs. Gardens are by their nature an artificial entity, yet that doesn’t mean we can’t summon the best bits of natural ecosystems to give us a helping hand. We can add a pond to attract frogs and toads; include log and leaf piles to home hedgehogs, slow-worms and centipedes; let lawn edges grow wild to shelter hurrying ground (carabid) beetles; and plant mixed hedges and dense shrubs to encourage blackbirds and thrushes to nest and feed. All of these players in nature’s food chain will do their bit to reduce slug numbers. But when a single grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum) can have up to 90,000 grandchildren, they’ve got their work cut out!

Tapping into nature

Adding one or more wildlife ponds to your garden will increase nature’s presence and boost your population of nocturnal, slug-eating amphibians. Even small ponds can have a big impact. This one, made from a half-barrel, is just 60cm (2ft) across but boils over in spring with spawning frogs and toads. The slates around the edge create plenty of nooks and crannies for slug-eating wildlife to inhabit.

in a watering can and apply it (using a coarse rose) to moist, warm soil (5°C or above) around any at-risk crops. I don waterproofs, wellies and head-torch to put mine into action, mixing the spray from my can with

BECKER UNDERWOOD

Nature has given us a now familiar and effective ally that’s partial to slugs, and it’s capable of reaching where more familiar predators often don’t and where the smaller and most damaging slugs hang out: the soil. The tiny parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita arrives via letterbox and is kept in the fridge. To use it, you simply mix it

Add ponds, add life

Naturally-occurring tiny parasitic nematodes like these can be watered onto the soil to control soil-dwelling slugs

TOP TIP

raindrops, as they’re more Don't be afra effective applied to wet soil. id nematodes to use Nematodes are harmless naturally occ they're to just about everything ur impossible to ring and but slugs, which, following Slugs retrea over apply. t to bel invasion, stop feeding and soil surface b ow the ef eventually die. No harm dying, where ore they becomes anything snacking will rot down. on an infected slug. Supercharging your soil with nematodes helps check not just the current slug population but any that hatch from eggs. When the time’s right, which means when the soil’s warm and wet enough in spring, I usually give all my garden beds a ‘nematode top-up’, no matter what’s growing in them. Nematodes work less well at curtailing snails and the bigger slugs, such as Arion ater, the black slug, although it does relatively little damage, except to seedlings in spring, preferring to feast on rotting organic matter. Any help in turning stuff that will rot into compost is welcome, so big slugs are popped into my bins to earn their keep.

Grow it! May 2013 55


Organic gardening Being the frugal type, I’ve settled on a material which does this age of austerity proud. It’s natural, infinitely renewable and rots away. One source is more ‘local’ than you might imagine.

Hair today, deterrent tomorrow

Get defensive

Even by calling on nature big and small to help push back the slug tide, some will always get through. This is when using a physical barrier to deter slugs kicks in, and it can be highly effective. I’m not talking crushed eggshells here, which don’t work (they’re not sharp or disruptive enough) but other slughindering materials. Because I take an earth-friendly approach, I try to solve pest

These crushed, sharp-edged shells, a byproduct of the seafood industry, make an effective and good-looking slug deterrent

challenges in ways that require the smallest ‘take’ in terms of energy and resources, and do the least harm. There are numerous slug deterrents available, made from all sorts of materials. Some of these, such as copper rings and tapes, which ‘shock’ slugs and snails when they touch them, do work a treat. But copper ore needs mining, then smelting and so on, until a finished product’s in our hand. This all uses energy and resources, helping upsize our gardening ‘footprint’. Bought-in solutions can also be expensive.

Two hair types make highly effective slug barriers in my garden. One I harvest from barbed wire fences, the other comes from the top of my bonce. Both cost me nothing and are footprint-free. Due to its fine, fibrous texture and tiny barbs, sheep’s wool makes smooth running hard going for a slug, so they won’t tangle with it. I tease out clumps of wool and spread it around at-risk plants outdoors and in containers. If your plot’s a long way from barbed wire, wool has been refined into an effective pelleted form (called Slug Gone) which I’ve used successfully. It’s not free, but it has a relatively modest footprint and is available by post. My ultimate slug deterrent is entirely home-grown. My hairdresser is happy for me to scoop up my own and others’ trimmings to take away. As with wool, I put it around slugprone plants, in a layer 2.5cm (1in) deep. When the job’s done both wool and hair can be worked into the soil, or add them to your compost bin. I don’t mind the look of either among my crops, but if you’re fussy, try to resist going peroxide blonde...

Lay barriers so that they are at least 2.5cm (1in) in width. This will stop slugs by passing the barrier.

56 May 2013 Grow it!

Slug- and snail-resistant barriers should be laid at least 2.5cm (1in) across to protect plants. These are just some of the materials you can use. From centre top, running clockwise: Wool pellets swell up and expand into a fibrous hairy barrier when moist Hygroscopic granules, which dry out slugs’ slimy mucus when they touch them Human hair keeps on growing, is infinitely ‘renewable’ and slugs and snails hate getting caught in it Bran impedes a slug’s movement and they will also gorge on it while leaving your plants unharmed Ceramic shards have sharp, angular edges that deter slugs Sawdust sticks to slugs’ mucus, so they avoid getting stuck in it

1 2 3 4 5 6

IMAGE COURTESY OF HOW TO CREATE AN ECO GARDEN: THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO GREENER, PLANET-FRIENDLY GARDENING (AQUAMARINE, £14.99))

SLUG BARRIERS


One of my most effective slug deterrents is sheep’s wool, which I ‘harvest’ for free while out on a walk

Pellets as icing

Even though I work with nature to keep slugs within bounds, I still use chemical slug pellets if I need to, but only as the icing on my slugcontainment cake. As they are designed to attract slugs, pellets are an effective way of guarding against rogues that have eluded predators and nematodes, and breached any barriers. I use iron (ferric) phosphate pellets approved for organic use, which work by stopping slugs from feeding. When they eat these pellets, they don’t die on the spot in a frothing mass (as they do after eating metaldehyde pellets) but move away and die out of sight. Any uneaten pellets break down harmlessly into the soil. Trials by Which? have found iron phosphate pellets, which are harmless to wildlife (including soil life), children and pets, to be just as effective as those containing metaldehyde. Out of all the slug controls, pellets come with one of the bigger gardening footprints; they use raw materials and need energy to make, package and transport (and there’s the container to recycle, too). I use them, sparingly, as icing, but they can

Drinking the blues Slug pellets made with metaldehyde are toxic not just to slugs and snails, but also to other animals. Metaldehyde is also responsible for a less wellknown but growing problem: pollution of our water supply. In tests last autumn, metaldehyde levels in both raw and treated water supplies in most UK areas were 40 times over the limit set by the European Union. Much of this came from agricultural use in a year of relentless slug damage. Although this pollution is detectable, there is no way of removing it. The Environment Agency claims there is no health risk, but this is environmental pollution which we gardeners can help ease by switching to iron phosphate pellets.

Slug pellets containing iron (ferric) phosphate are effective at controlling slugs and snails, but treat them as a last resort

offer salvation in a new garden where everything’s fresh and its ecosystem is only just taking shape. Pellets do, of course, poison slugs and snails. I’d much rather let an ally further down the food chain do the dirty work, but no one said that, sometimes, love didn’t hurt. Grow it! May 2013 57


PRACTICAL

PROJECT

Mint condition Perennial mint is rapid growing, available in many unexpected flavours and will happily grace any border or container. As Andy Cawthray explains, there’s a lot going for this must-grow herb

H

Mint is easy to propagate and, with so many types available, can be turned to many uses

erbs play an important part in my garden. Not only do they provide an array of flavours for the kitchen, they also attract a lot of wildlife. I grow a reasonable collection of seasonal herbs such as basil, coriander and oregano (which my chickens love, contributing to their overall health). As well as these annual herbs I grow traditional perennial types, including thyme, rosemary and mint. It’s the last of these that this month’s project focuses on. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of being sent down the garden to cut some mint destined for either the new potatoes or to mix up with vinegar to make a mint sauce to go with the roast lamb. I’ve always enjoyed the taste but it’s only in recent years that I have

Snazzy-leaved ginger mint

What you will need

discovered the broad range of mints available. Most of these I now grow. There’s apple mint, ginger mint, ✔ Secateurs spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon mint ✔ Plastic bag and even a grapefruit mint. They all carry an aroma and taste with a nod towards ✔ Quality peat-free comp ost their namesake. There’s even an Eau de ✔ Horticultural grit Cologne-scented mint which is said to ✔ A supply of plant pots have been Napoleon’s favourite and is ✔ Sharp knife ideal used in a summer punch or Pimms. Thanks to the wide range of flavours this herb is perhaps the most versatile of all, while remaining a delight to garden around. I grow mint in open beds (‘free range’ if you like) and in pots. I refer to the former as ‘free range’ as that is what mints are likely to do if grown out of a pot. They can be quite aggressive and can quickly take over a border if not kept in check! If you do plant mint in the border keep a close eye on it or grow it in a pot that’s sunk into the ground to contain the roots. The key to enjoying strong, healthy mint is to encourage the plant to produce plenty of fresh new growth. This can be achieved through regular cutting and by propagating it every couple of years. Be they free range or otherwise, this will help keep woody growth at bay and juicy, aroma-filled foliage in abundance. In this simple-tofollow project I show you how to take stem cuttings from your border-grown plants and how to get more plants from the mints you may have growing in pots.

Thanks to the range of flavours mint is perhaps the most versatile of all herbs 58 May 2013 Grow it!


STEP-BY-STEP

How to propagate mint

1

Using secateurs or a pair of sharp scissors cut off softstemmed shoots to provide a cutting length of about 5-7cm (23in). Put the cuttings into a plastic bag immediately. This will help reduce the water loss from the cutting, helping to keep it viable.

2

3

4

5

6

Use a sharp knife to cut off the lower leaves of your cuttings. This helps reduce water loss while the cutting establishes. Next, re-cut the base of the cutting about 5mm up from the original cut. Insert the cutting into a pot of the potting medium, water and place in a sunny spot. Roots will appear in a couple of weeks.

Gently tease out each shoot, in turn bringing a length of the root system with it. Snap the shoot and root off. You can use a knife to make the cut, although stems are usually soft enough to be nipped off between fingernails. Work around the plant and take off as many shoots as you need.

TOP TIP

Regular clipping of mint during the growing season will ensure a steady supply of tender stems for the kitchen.

Put together your potting medium by mixing 50:50 peat free potting compost with horticultural grit. Mints like freedraining soil but cuttings in particular appreciate this gritty mix when they trying to develop their first roots.

Pot-grown mints are propagated differently. A good time to divide these plants up is just as they begin to grow again in spring. Knock the plant out of its pot and you will see the plant roots wrapped around inside the pot. Close to the surface are the new shoots that are beginning to sprout.

Fill some pots with quality peat-free compost and, using a dibber or pencil, make a hole in the centre of the pot. Simply drop the plantlet into the hole so that just the top of the shoot shows. Firm into position and water lightly. Some of the root system is already established so the plant should romp away with fresh growth over the following weeks. Grow it! May 2013 59


SHOW REVIEW Edible Garden Show 2013

Appetising start Liz Dobbs reports on this year’s Edible Garden Show where new products, expert advice and show offers helped visitors start off the growing season with enthusiasm

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ain and sleet failed to dampen spirits at The Edible Garden Show, staged for the third year running at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on 15-17 March. The Edible Garden Show is scheduled for the beginning of the growing season and has something for everyone, from grow-it-yourself novices to seasoned allotment holders and veg patch stalwarts. The number of people growing fruit and vegetables at home has boomed in recent years with around five per cent of everything we eat now coming from free sources, according to latest Government figures. There are 300,000 allotment holders throughout the UK with another 150,000 on waiting lists. Here are just a few highlights from this spring’s show.

On display: Edible plants galore!

1. Aquaponics

The most ‘blue skies thinking’ product I saw was FishPlant, a plant bed and fish tank working together as one using ‘flood and drain’ hydroponics. This would make the ultimate GIY gadget for a deck or a conservatory, or perhaps an educational feature for school gardens. Units normally start at £600. For more details head to www.fishplant.co.uk

2. Pressing ahead

A show is a great opportunity to see a Vigo fruit press in action (and even have a go), get advice on the range of equipment and benefit from a discount. Pictured here is a 12-litre Cast Iron Cross Beam Press; the apples were put through a Classic Crusher first. I met a satisfied Vigo owner with a 20-year-old press. He rinses it through with cold water straight after use and puts Vaseline on the screw mechanism. He told me the secret of tasty apple 60 May 2013 Grow it!

juice is: “Knowing when to stop pressing, as you don’t want the bitter flavours from the skin going through.” Ex-fruit farmer Richard Toft from Pershore College was on the Vigo stand. Richard's tip for early summer is to “remember to freeze some your surplus blackcurrants or raspberries, then when you make apple juice in the autumn you can add the summer fruits as flavours.” View the complete range of presses at www.vigopresses.co.uk or telephone Vigo on 01404 892101.

3. Homegrown Revolution

Suttons Seeds launched the James Wong plant range, based on his best-selling book Homegrown Revolution, with fascinating additions to the range already available. James was in such demand with visitors that he lost his voice after days of talks and advice! Plants popular at the show were: Chilean guava ‘Ka-Pow’, kaffir lime, wasabi (in

James’ left hand) and cardamom (in his right). At present the Homegrown Revolution range is only available via mail order, with a final order date of 31 May. Check details at www.suttons.co.uk or call 0844 9220606. Other celebrity speakers over the weekend included Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Bob Flowerdew, author and TV presenter Alys Fowler, poultry expert and Grow it! contributor Andy Cawthray and Tom Moggach, author of The Urban Kitchen Gardener.

5. Seeds in demand

The straightforward £1 a packet offer at DT Brown’s stand was a draw for experienced growers, especially as it included peas and beans. DT Brown’s seed buyer Rachel Cole said customers were coming primed with the seed catalogue and knew what they wanted – mangetout and green manures were particularly popular. Several people asked what to do about leek moth, further evidence that this pest has reached the Midlands. Rachel’s tip for less experienced gardeners: “Have

4. Offers to be had

A chain of garden centres in the Midlands (www.thegardenstore. ltd.uk ) had a modular stand with representatives from some of their product range. There were some great show offers, for example, £15 terracotta rhubarb forcers and a Vitax 10-litre pack of Slug Gone (wool pellets, pictured) for £12. Neudorff (www.neudorff.co.uk) aims to supply ‘green’ products that are cost-effective and as effective as artificial chemicals. Their weedkiller based on pelargoniums sounded interesting, especially when I was told it would cope with horsetail (or any weed bar Japanese knotweed).

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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

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columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

SPUDS

Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

Success

with carrots Say

TOP TIPS for newcomers

● Clearing new ground ● Getting rid of weeds ● How to mak e veg beds ● Sowing bac

k to basics

goodbye to carrot fly and poor germina tion!

WIN!

TOTE BAGS OF TOPSOIL

6 to give away

FREE

POTATO KIT FO EVERY READERR

001_GI_FEB13.ind

d 1

31/01/2013 12:52

2 easy ways to order

10/01/2013 12:38

Hotline open: Mon–Fri 8am–9.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm Please note that calls are charged at your local rate, for further information please check with your service provider

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GOOSEBE ✚ Exotic frui ✚ READER* R EVERY Cranberries ✚ Pot ✚FO Sweet peas ✚ Growing in small-spaces ✚ Anne SwithinbanktsQ&A agers 001_GI_MAR13.indd 1

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them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

e

www.growitmag.c om

Ditch the wheelie bin g

garden magazin

tomatoes FREE

PLOT PLANNING TIPS ON...

Win with

SEED How to S start a hot bed

BULBS

RAISEDsibBle EDS

Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

FIVE OF THE BEST... 1

bean

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*PLEASE NOTE: 3 issues for £3 offer is a Direct Debit, UK subscription offer only. You can cancel at any time in writing in the first three months and £3 will be your only commitment. If you do NOT cancel in that time, a regular quarterly payment will continue at £23.70 still saving 20% on the shop price, taken via direct debit from your bank every six months. **76% discount calculated on your first 3 issues.

43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

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hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

2013 / £3.95 January www.growitmag.com

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Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

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Globe artichokes are so easy to grow yet so utterly indulgent. Plant some and prepare to be dazzled!

fruit grower The Practical Team The

››The lowdown on...

March 2013 / £3.95

GROWING GUIDES

Benedict Vanheems, Editor

Save 76% on the shop price**

£3 *

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ISSUES FOR JUST The BEST VALUE kitchen garden magazine

The BEST VALUE

Globe artichokes

FEED THEM UP Give a generous annual mulch of well-rotted manure mixed with leaf mould if you have it. DRAINAGE MATTERS Avoid any soil that is heavy and easily waterlogged; globe artichokes rarely survive a winter in these conditions.

gives you the ntenance perennial that artichoke, says Lucy Halliday The highly ornamental, low-mai ? It can only be the globe taste of an Italian summer his tall, elegant, architectural

with tightly packed scales. Cook by steaming whole. Removing sideshoots gives bigger heads.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Only select the largest offset for replanting to keep your stock really vigorous. Discard the rest of the plant.

ENCOURAGE WILDLIFE If possible leave old plants in place to flower for an extra year – they are wonderful for attracting pollinating insects.

REAP THE RICH REWARDS Harvest heads when plump and still tender

● Leeks ● Calabrese ● MelonsThe BES

T

magPIE-mOOn

to plant is a wonderful addition space any garden with enough would to accommodate it. You to keep you in need a large field of plants would advise this a year’s supply so no one it is one of those as a crop to live off. Yet I that treats quintessential midsummer is easy to grow and would not be without. It to go in on my was one of the first crops new allotment. only hard to Fresh artichokes are not As a expensive. very also but by come so little input that perennial crop they need a corner to, they are really worth dedicating an ornamental or even incorporating into foliage, green and border. The silvery-grey (if left) giant purple purple flower buds and of any display. thistle-like flowers are worthy heads that Unusually it is the flower and these are provide the culinary interest The base of each eaten before they open. up the outer triangular ‘scale’ that makes a tender, creamy portions of the bud has is a fleshy plate section to it and then there

The unopened flower heads of the globe artichoke are eaten

February

January

Order plants online or through mailorder catalogues ready for spring planting.

Remove or clear away last year’s frost protection before growth starts.

March

If you haven’t done so, clear away old leaves and stems to allow for new growth.

Propagate offsets from mature plants to bulk up or refresh your stock, or to give away.

AUGUST

JULY Keep an eye out for swelling flower buds so you catch them before opening.

Ensure that new plants remain well watered as the weather warms up.

Harvest flower heads while still closed but large and firm with tight scales.

❖ ‘Romanesco’: This traditional

gorgeous variety has the bonus of make purple-tinted globes that use. it perfect for ornamental with a Heads are tight and firm Nursery good flavour. Victoriana

might a good plant, ask if they spare you one or otherwise need to order plants in. You will like this replenish your own stock in order to keep every three or four years plants at peak productivity. the risk Plant out new plants once by soil the of frost has passed. Prepare holes at least cultivating generous planting lots of well-rotted 60x60cm (2x2ft), adding to create a rich, manure and grit if needed for these free-draining environment hungry plants. A good annual mulch, regular watering in warm weather during their first year, combined with a little frost protection is all the work these laidback plants require. If you can resist, remove any emerging flower buds in the first year to encourage the plant to put all its energies into establishment.

❖ ‘Tavor’: A modern selection

of the heritage ‘Green Globe’ to that’s been bred for tolerance well in colder winters. It can crop crops its first year and gives heavy Nursery once mature. Victoriana with ❖ ‘Purple Globe’: Globes stunner an intense purple hue. A and a for the back of a border Suttons particularly heavy cropper.

Suppliers

• Marshalls: 0844 5576700, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk • Suttons: 0844 922 2899, www.suttons.co.uk 01233 740529, • Victoriana Nursery: www.victoriananursery.co.uk

NOVEMBER

OCTOBER

SEPTEMBER Harvest any smaller flower heads from side shoots while still closed and firm.

Hang unused flowers to dry as ornaments or for harvest wreaths. Spray gold for Christmas.

Cover plants with straw, bracken or fleece to protect from frosts over the winter.

DECEMBER Mulch new and mature plants with compost, manure or hay annually. Grow it! April 2013 43

14/03/2013 20:13

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

42

columnist for the Martyn Cox is gardening of nine books. Mail on Sunday and author on the south coast. He has a small, city garden

THIS THIS MONTH MONTH

shade shade forfor • Plants • Plants • Strawberries • Strawberries peppers peppers • Chilli • Chilli

a north-facing garden requires Deciding what to grow in on Cox puts his thinking cap careful thought. Martyn been able to grow or the past ten years I’ve fruit, vegetable just about every type of fancy, all thanks to and herb that’s taken my garden. Everything I owning a fully south-facing or raised in pots romped planted into the ground me with plenty of good away quickly and provided apricots, kiwifruit, stuff to harvest. Figs, peaches, , tomatillos, cucumbers, redcurrants, blackcurrants aubergines, peppers, beetroot, kale, ‘Black Tuscan’ of other edibles thrived tomatoes and a whole load d plot in East London. in that warm, sun-drenche challenge. About four But I’m now facing a new from the big smoke, months ago I upped sticks garden in the south taking on a slightly bigger essentially the seaside coast resort of Southsea, two minutes from suburb of Portsmouth. Living and the pace of life down the seafront is wonderful

F

Colourful stems of rainbow chard will brighten up even shady gardens

city grower The Practical Team The

Fall for French beans! W

The Practical Team

The city grower

A ‘Morello’ cherry will add welcome blossom in springtime

blood pressure. Yet there here is far better for my new plot faces due north! is a slight problem... my the garden in summer, I’ve not yet experienced dark and gloomy but over winter it has been swathe at the very (apart from a 2m (7ft)-deep in the afternoon). It is back that gets the light imagine growing not the kind of place I could above. On most of the plants I’ve mentioned surrounded by the upside, it is completely to be troubled by unlikely and walls, sheltered to the sea. frosts due to its close proximity of structural changes My plan is to make a lot few months, as it looks to the garden over the next And, of course, we’ll be really boring at the moment. will do well, or at least cope, introducing edibles that found outside my backdoor. in the kind of conditions trees have been All of my sun-loving fruit the garden in their moved to the bottom of most of the the make can they pots, where of raising this area available light. I’m thinking even more. The walls up, which will help them of my garden will make that run down the length ‘Morello’ cherry, red and excellent supports for a and gooseberries. white currants, raspberries that can deal with low Elsewhere, I’ll grow veg radishes, Swiss chard light levels. Lettuce, beetroot, are all ideal. Closer to the and mixed salad leaves gloomy, I’ll plant alpine house, where it is really c croppers in full sun strawberries – they’re prolifi in the deepest shade. but will still produce berries

hile our summers are highly quickunpredictable there’s one will always growing vegetable that it’s given a sunny happily oblige so long as patio. French beans corner of the garden or weeks earlier are ready to pick up to three with a number of than runner beans and to grow you can dwarf varieties available for supports. even do away with the need or dotted in among Plant them in short rows free. other crops as space becomes own, give If you’ve never grown your very easy to raise them a try. They really are a range of pod sizes from seed and come in do well in tubs and colours. Dwarf types climbing beans and window boxes while or canes to make can be grown up netting you have. Sow efficient use of the space weeks and you dwarf varieties every few supply of these can be sure of a constant delicious pods. fine-textured and completely which means French beans are not hardy, them outside its best to hold off sowing last frost. However, until a week before the it’s a small risk to in sheltered city gardens earlier crop sown try your luck with an even Should frost April. of half second the in a harvest, simply scupper your chances of to lose but a few sow again; you’ve nothing or fleece set over seeds. Of course, cloches your seedlings safer. the sown area will keep direct into To grow in pots sow seeds setting them multipurpose compost, thinning to leave about 5cm (2in) deep and each plant. about 30cm (12in) between of seeds of a Alternatively sow a couple each supporting climbing variety against seedling strongest the to cane and thin can also be after germination. Seeds greenhouse or started off in pots in the once they have cold frame to plant out leaves. Keep produced their first adult pick regularly. the plants watered and

Dwarf varieties of French will happily grow in pots

* French beans are ready to pick up to three weeks earlier than runner beans

2

1. ‘Stanley’ A whiteseeded bean that won’t fail to produce plenty of long, straight pods of excellent quality beans.

The Practical Team

The fruit grower

g 2. ‘Duel’: Quick-growin ‘Duel’ holds its pods above its foliage, making it easy to pick. The pods have a fine taste and texture.

you into weather will be tempting The start of the warmer says Benedict Vanheems. the fruit garden this month, on with! as there’s plenty to be getting

as well really, suppliers SeedJust

• Dobies: 0844 7017625, co.uk that the evenings are so much www.dobies. It’s lucky3710532, 0845 a busy time for • DT Brown: lighter this month as it’s a little and www.dtbrownseeds.com us fruit growers. As always • Marshalls: 0844 5576700, is the key to keeping approach k often lls-seeds.co.u www.marsha of everything, from harvesting top 9222899, 0844 • Suttons:on dry weather. rhubarb to watering in tasty.co.uk www.suttons

of April showers Make the most of a spell centre and to get to your local garden Weed invest in a few bags of mulch. then apply around fruit trees and bushes each under a generous layer of mulch it doesn’t ensure to careful one, being as deterring 5 touch the trunk. As well in moisture hold weeds, this will help to of watering. all year, saving you hours bushes, Newly-planted trees and wall or fence and anything growing by a are any plants growing in containers and drying out, especially vulnerable to A prince benefit of a good mulch 5. ‘The with the evenPrince’:

dwarf French beans 3

3. ‘Soleon’: High yields of bright, golden pods with a delicious and almost sweet flavour. The plants have good disease resistance.

4

4. ‘Amethyst’: A fine choice for a small garden thanks to its incredibly pretty flowers. The 15cm (6in)-long purple pods are string-less.

SEEDS

among French beans! The slender, string-less pods will keep on coming if picked regularly.

a good drench they will probably need dry weather. at least once a week in ed trees that are If you have newly-plant steel yourself and coming into flower, then that you can tell pick off all the fat buds rather than leaves. will open into blossom will be glad you It seems harsh, but you a good strong have you when future did in to withstand tree with roots deep enough the plant to extremes of weather. Helping established put all its energy into getting it takes to is well worth the few minutes with the yourself console do this. You can give any fruit thought that trees rarely first year anyway. worth harvesting in their be left to Any established trees can Where possible bloom their hearts out. eece or fl with try to protect the blossom nights. Many an old blanket on freezing for pennies charity shops sell blankets

THIS MONTH

• Planting strawberries • Applying mulch • Tending new trees

Easy

Build a collap ur bed in under an ho

Simple yet irre ideas home-grown gift

task. Keep a and they are ideal for this forecasts watchful eye on the weather an unexpected as some areas can get May. Remove frost up until the end of to allow the protection in the morning to pollinate the bees and other insects crops. blossom and give you heavy Where possible, protect fruit tree blossom from late frost

Strawberries grow very well in growbags

O

Plants are inexpensive, a doddle to grow and take up little room

>

dd 2

001_GI_JAN13.in

all at once that offer the huge harvest they are just you need for making jam, enjoying bowls the job for keeping you long. of just-picked fruit all summer to bear fruit Plants will generally start protection, or June cloche given if May in The flowers if left to their own devices. If frost frost. must be protected from centre of each catches them then the spot this, nip bloom turns black. If you they will never off affected blooms (as plants are covered grow fruit) and ensure be uncovered at night. By day they must

28 April 2013 Grow it!

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

iner tree care STEP-BY-STEP Conta Newly-planted fruit trees and any grown in containers need extra care throughout the summer to avoid letting their roots dry out. First ensure no weeds are competing for moisture.

2

Water the plant well. A good drench allows the moisture to get right down to the bottom of the container. Daily watering may be required in really hot and dry weather.

3

Add a layer of mulch

to keep moisture in and weeds out. You can use gravel, chipped bark or leaf mould. Coir hanging basket liners are a quick and effective option.

>

Make the most of a spell of April showers Grow it! April 2013 25

14/03/2013 20:06

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

25

07/12/2012 10:18

are Bare-root strawberry plants have often good value as they less packaging than pot-grown time to plant options. Now is a good up. them as the soil is warming

1

26 April 2013 Grow it!

025-27_GI_APR13.indd

26

in a Choose free-draining soil if sunny spot. Dig in leaf mould plants you have it available. Remove in water for from packaging and soak the roots. three minutes to untangle

2

easy ideas to e money on thesav plot

SUPER

SPUDS

Dig in for your big gest and best EVE R potatoes

It’s easy – we show how!

Success

with carrots Say

TOP TIPS for newcomers

● Clearing new ground ● Getting rid of weeds ● How to mak e veg beds ● Sowing bac

k to basics

goodbye to carrot fly and poor germina tion!

WIN!

TOTE BAGS OF TOPSOIL

6 to give away

FREE

POTATO KIT FO EVERY READERR

001_GI_FEB13.ind

d 1

31/01/2013 12:52

2 easy ways to order

10/01/2013 12:38

Hotline open: Mon–Fri 8am–9.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm Please note that calls are charged at your local rate, for further information please check with your service provider

29

28

1

!

10

GOOSEBE ✚ Exotic frui ✚ READER* R EVERY Cranberries ✚ Pot ✚FO Sweet peas ✚ Growing in small-spaces ✚ Anne SwithinbanktsQ&A agers 001_GI_MAR13.indd 1

£3.95

CALL OUR SUBSCRIPTION TEAM 0845 872 7385 and quote offer code E106

14/03/2013 20:08

28-30_GI_APR13.indd

trees Damsons ✚ Nut

FREE RRY BUSH

February 2013 /

BUDGET G ROWING

ONLINE subscription.co.uk/gri/e106

them. so that bees can pollinate beginning to You will soon see fruits to put straw form and this is the time the plants. or a similar mulch around t of keeping This has the dual benefi protecting the moisture in the soil and may think You ground. fruit from the berries, but birds haven’t spotted your turns red, it the minute the first fruit Cover will attract unwanted attention. net tunnel the fruits with an extending system similar a or or use Build-A-Balls cage. to make a temporary fruit

g bare-root strawberries STEP-BY-STEP Plantin

Grow it! April 2013 29

All the tips you’ll need to grow a perfect crop

● Year-round growin ● Crop rotation ing Take eshootcomposting ● Troublyour soil level roving toImp the next ●

the garden Gifts fromsist ible

e

www.growitmag.c om

Ditch the wheelie bin g

garden magazin

tomatoes FREE

PLOT PLANNING TIPS ON...

Win with

SEED How to S start a hot bed

BULBS

RAISEDsibBle EDS

Enjoy the taste of summer ed nce you’ve tasted freshly-pick own strawberries from your back garden you will never go Plants are to shop-bought crops again! grow and they inexpensive, a doddle to Even if you have take up very little room. a few limited space, you can squeeze get bowls of plants into a container and sells a kit fruit all summer long. Suttons plants and two including 12 strawberry means you growbags for just £24, which fruit on a balcony! can even grow your own fussy are s One thing strawberrie light they get. about is the amount of receives full Ideally choose a spot that These plants sun for most of the day. ing soil, so also thrive on freely-drain make to if you’ve been clever enough amounts some leaf mould, dig generous Alternatively into your strawberry bed. to last soil that you added manure add manure year is ideal – but don’t a mountain of this year or you will get any berries. leaves at the expense of all part of the Choosing your plants is a few varieties, fun. If you have room for and a few go for some early fruiters is a term that ‘everbearers’. The latter offer fewer berries applies to plants which to crop over at any one time but continue expect a steady a longer period – you can August to supply of fruit from around don’t the first frosts. While everbearers

SEEDS

Our roundup of the seed catalogues

T VALUE kitchen

d out how some shallots! Fin It’s time you grew

✚ Propagators ✚

Benedict Vanheems is editor of Grow it! and is a passionate home-grower.

FIVE OF THE BEST... 1

bean

FREE!

FREE! Gourmet

*PLEASE NOTE: 3 issues for £3 offer is a Direct Debit, UK subscription offer only. You can cancel at any time in writing in the first three months and £3 will be your only commitment. If you do NOT cancel in that time, a regular quarterly payment will continue at £23.70 still saving 20% on the shop price, taken via direct debit from your bank every six months. **76% discount calculated on your first 3 issues.

43

NEW

om www.growitmag.c

Free delivery direct to your door

hardy tasty, as artichokes go. This very erect-growing and thorn-less variety has attractive rounded Suttons scales to its flower buds.

❖ ‘Emerald’: Tough and

14/03/2013 20:14

42 April 2013 Grow it!

042-43_GI_APR13.indd

Beneath this at the base of all the scales. which forms the is the bristly thistle down A rich and ‘choke’, known as the heart. reward for the effort distinctive flavour is the of dismantling the buds. you will Harking from warmer climes a sunny, freeneed to find globe artichokes draining site, ideally sheltered from strong winds as these plants can reach up to 2m (7ft) high. It is possible to raise artichokes from seed but this is rarely done as the results are variable. Instead, divide or separate the naturally occurring offsets in April to yield more plants. If you know someone with

June

Keep an eye out for aphids, the only real pest of globe artichokes. Hose off growing tips.

to heritage variety dating a good about 1835. It produces show of varying sized buds of good flavour. Marshalls

Below: The handsome silvery foliage makes globe artichokes at home in either ornamental or veg beds

Healthy young plants ready for planting

WHEN DOWhen TOdo tTto WHA s:S:Wha HOKE hoke ARTIC eEartic GLOB Glob May april

❖ ‘Green Globe’: A reliable

2013 / £3.95 January www.growitmag.com

magazine

S ES TIIE ET RIIE AR VA FOR 2013!

Never miss an issue

TRY THESE...

Left: If left to open, the flowers will attract pollinators to your plot

kitchen garden

*Just pay p&p

Fast track to success...

Globe artichokes are so easy to grow yet so utterly indulgent. Plant some and prepare to be dazzled!

fruit grower The Practical Team The

››The lowdown on...

March 2013 / £3.95

GROWING GUIDES

Benedict Vanheems, Editor

Save 76% on the shop price**

£3 *

*Just pay p&p

EXCLUSIVE OFFER

IPTION UBSCR

for the Dig a hole deep enough with earth, whole root ball. Backfill are fully under ensuring that the roots just proud of it. the soil and the crown is

3

14/03/2013 20:07

Grow It! May 2013  

Grow It! May 2013

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