Garden Tips – April showers help!

If you have never grown vegetables before, it may seem daunting but many are easy to grow.

Garden centres sell polystyrene packs of some veg, eg lettuce and cabbages. These can be planted out about 20cm apart. Water plants a lot until they are growing strongly. Even after this, water them in dry spells as the water, together with sunlight, builds the new plant tissue.

If you have room for a veg plot, this can be dug over to remove weeds prior to planting. Otherwise, put veg in the spaces between flowers and shrubs as some are attractive to look at. Beetroot has bronzy leaves and Swiss Ruby Chard has red tinted ones. Lettuce has ‘frilly’ varieties and also purple leaved forms. It likes a semi-shaded position and will not ‘heart up’ if too hot. Most other veg prefer full sun but runner beans will also grow in semi-shade. These need something to cling onto to climb up and canes, thick branches or nets are needed.

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When you buy veg seeds look on the back of the packet and choose a variety which matures quickly. Leafy veg can be sprinkled on a pot of compost and transplanted when just over 5 cm tall, whilst carrots, turnips, radishes and swedes need sprinkling directly on the soil, either in rows or patches between other plants. Cauliflower and brussells sprouts need really firm soil and can be more difficult to grow successfully.
Growing crops in Growbags is an alternative. They can be used for leafy veg but deeper bags are needed for potatoes and other root crops. You need to buy bags of compost for this but it can be put on the garden at the end of the season. Tomatoes can be grown in bags or large pots. Use liquid tomato food and also water this on ornamental plants, as it encourages more flowers to form. Children like planting pumpkins and ornamental Gourds in growbags. Put these in full sun for maximum heat and light and grow several, so that bees can cross-pollinate them.

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Bees play a big part in veg growing, pollinating vegetable flowers so fruits will be produced. Falling bee populations means we should grow ‘bee friendly’ flowers to support them. Flowers with many small ‘florets’ are best eg Buddleia bushes, Lavender and many herbs. Bees favour sheltered gardens, so grow shrubs for protection from the wind. Whilst choosing veg seeds, also choose some annual flowers to sow in bare patches in the border. April showers will help them all to grow!
Happy Gardening! from Diane Clay at Picturebook Gardens Call 01234 352967

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