As the sun makes an appearance, the rain finally seems to be easing off and the garden slowly begins to come to life, now is a good time to sow some seeds ready for the warmer days. It’s not too early to get growing – just make sure you choose wisely; some plants don’t benefit from early planting, whereas others will flourish if planted and nurtured indoors now.
You don’t need greenhouses and your own gardener to feel the accomplishment of growing something from seed to plate. Here’s some inspiration for your very own kitchen garden – wherever you live.
Aubergines, tomatoes and chillies
These Mediterranean classics tend to need a little longer in the UK than they usually do in their warmer native lands. Sow your seeds and keep them on a sunny windowsill or greenhouse, if you have one.
A hardy, early cropper, broad beans can be sown outside as early as march. Grow from seed under cover before transplanting your seedlings. If you are a little late to the planting party, you can always sow them directly where they will grow. Keep an eye out for blackfly, a species of aphid that can infest plants and stunt their growth. They tend to congregate in the soft tips of plants, so pinching the tips off can help promote healthy growth.
The marmite of the vegetable patch, beetroot is also hardy, so can be sown straight out in March. Keep sowing to provide yourself with a steady supply of this love-it-or-hate-it superfood.
Swiss chard brightens up your garden as well as your plate. With its vibrant stems and rich, leafy foliage, it is easy to grow as well as easy on the eye. Plant in a sunny or partially shaded spot from March onwards.
If you grow one thing this year, try growing your own salad. It is low maintenance, satisfying, and there is nothing better than picking a lettuce leaf from your windowsill or veg patch to put in your sandwich! Sow inside from March, but come June, you can try sowing outside.
Make your garden work for you
You don’t have to have a massive garden to make the most of it. Raised beds are a great way of optimising space and taking a lot of the back breaking element out of your garden planting, weeding and harvesting. You can even add tiers for extra variety and an improved feeling of space. Speak to a local landscaper, handyman (or woman) or carpenter – raised beds won’t cost a huge amount and can make a big difference to how you garden. They can help protect your veg from slugs and snails, too.