As the sun makes its first appearance of the year, bringing with it the promise of warmer days and flourishing gardens, now is a good time to plant seeds for consumption over the coming months. If you’re not a seasoned gardener, the prospect of growing from seed may be a little daunting. Here are some plants that you can grow fairly confidently from seed, sowing in March and reaping the rewards throughout the year.
As a general rule, better quality seeds or plants will get you better results; while supermarket products may be cheaper, you may not necessarily get as good a yield as you will from the seeds of reputable garden centres or online suppliers.
Aubergines are becoming increasingly popular and are a delicious addition to a meal, adding a little bit of sunshine to your plate. Aubergines can be grown outside but they do best in a greenhouse or growing frame.
You can sow aubergines from:
- January – in a heated greenhouse
- February – in an unheated greenhouse
- Late February/ March – on a windowsill
- March - April outdoor sowing
If you are unable to grow your plants from seed, you can buy plants online or from a garden centre.
Tomatoes are a great vegetable garden staple and can be enjoyed and preserved. Often, tomato plants yield large quantities of fruit; if you have used your own compost which might contain tomatoes from food waste, don’t be surprised if you end up with more plants than you planted in the first place!
If you are growing in a greenhouse, you can sew your tomatoes as early as February. However, if you are planning on growing your plants in the garden, hold off sowing your seeds until late March or April. Regardless of where you sow, you will need to keep the seedlings at about 18˚. Once they have grown at least two leaves, transplant them into 9cm pots. AS soon as they start to flower, transplant them once again to 23cm pots or grow bags.
You don’t know what a real carrot tastes like until you have grown one in your garden… Carrots need light, sunny soil; they will struggle to push down through wet or clay-heavy soil. If your soils is heavy, you can try growing carrots in a deep put or bucket, although ideally you want open ground. Sow inside and plant out from February, or sow directly into your garden from the end of March until early summer. Space the seeds an inch apart to avoid the need to thin out.
Carrots are fairly low maintenance, but they can become overcrowded by weeds, so weed regularly to make sure that they have plenty of space.
Growing your own can seem labour intensive, but there is no doubt that nothing tastes better than a freshly picked, sun-warmed tomato, or carrot pulled straight from your own soil. If you don’t have the inclination to do it yourself, check out our directory of trusted local gardeners – they will do the hard work for you!