>Almost spring already

>It will soon be warm enough to start sowing some seeds outdoors. The packets may say march/april but realistically, the temperature varies across the country and from season to season. Although it might seem as though we have had a horrendous winter, much of that has been due to the comparatively warm weather so we could be starting early this year.
I myself am a production gardener. If it doesn’t taste good, smell gorgeous or serve a practical purpose, I really don’t waste too much time on it. I do, however, have my favourite flowers, but even then they tend to be unfussy or grown from bulbs or corms.

Vegetables vary in how much skill and time they need to thrive. Different vegetables also vary in how much space they require and the size of harvest they produce. Easy crops to grow include beans (such as French and runners), root crops (like beetroot, parsnip and potatoes) as well as salad crops (like courgettes, lettuce and radish), so these are often recommended. However, some of these, notably French beans, beetroot, leeks and potatoes are either space hungry or don’t produce big crops, so are less satisfactory. On the other hand, a few crops – such as spring onions and outdoor tomatoes -offer such great rewards they are worth even a beginner having a go. Children love growing vegetables too, so start them off with fun crops such as radish and lettuce that are quick and easy, or courgettes and runner beans that grow into monster plants. Try making the plants individual to appeal to the competitive nature of children. maybe see who can grow the largest marrow,pumpkin or runner bean. If you instil the basic requirements of plant growth-sun,water and food-you will soon find your child prodigy will be spending as much time treating their plants as they do watching tv. Remember the golden rule: It’s no use growing something they won’t want to eat. If they are responsible for bringing something to the table for everyone to try, they will feel successful regardless of the size of the specimen.
I have a tendency to try the odd exotic or more expensive new veg or fruit from the greengrocers(If I can find a real one) or supermarket before trying to grow it. If I don’t like the taste, then I give it a miss in the garden. I’m not sure my wife cares too much for my methods though as she is often the one who has to find a recipe for it!
I make a space on my plot for sweet peas ,gladioli or dahlias when I can rather than in the garden as they take up a fair amount of space and can be lifted or composted after they have served their purpose, not left filling a space in the flower borders. My daughter’s nursery room was filled heavenly scented sweet pea blooms in a number of vases the day my wife brought her home from the maternity ward and she has loved them ever since. Gladioli are such showy blooms needing very little effort so they score well with me as a cut flower and dahlias are a traditional allotment crop, alongside the more northern favourite of chrysanthemums. Dahlias are easier to spell too!

Good gardening!


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