Action plan: Nigel Colborn's essential jobs for your garden this week

Action plan: Nigel Colborn’s essential jobs for your garden this week

  • Nigel Colborn shared advice for people growing their own food during lockdown
  • The British gardener said even with a small garden it is possible to grow salads
  • You can grow courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes and other fast-growing crops

SUPERFOOD IN YOUR GARDEN

Lockdown brings a great opportunity for growing some of your own food.

Gardeners are already busy sowing seeds or setting out summer crops. So if you fancy growing something tasty at home, here’s a programme for the coming weeks.

Lockdown brings a great opportunity for growing some of your own food, says Nigel Colborn

However small your outdoor space may be, it’s still possible to grow salads, early greens and even root crops such as carrots.

You can also grow courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes and other fast-growing crops for tasty summer eating.

WINTER VEG

Food production is ongoing. Seed for late brassicas such as winter cabbage, sprouting broccoli and Brussels sprouts can be sown now. The young plants are then bedded out from June for a winter crop.

Purple broccoli is pretty enough to grow in an ornamental border. The plants are attractive even when coming into flower in June. Some kale varieties and colourful chard varieties such as Bright Lights are also remarkably pretty.

TASTY FRUITS

For small spaces, the tastiest fruits are strawberries. The growing plants look good, too. There are even ornamental varieties such as pink-flowered, perpetual fruiting Summer Breeze Rose.

The variety Just Add Cream also has pink flowers and luscious fruits. Both are available from thompson-morgan.com. I’ve never tasted these, so can’t vouch for them, but they look pretty.

KEEP ON SOWING

SPRING sowing is well into its second half. So get seeds into the ground, pots or seed trays as soon as you can. This means salads, radishes, spring onions, spinach, chard, peas, carrots, French and runner beans, courgettes or squashes.

To sow directly into the ground, you need a well-prepared seedbed. Soil must be crumbly, dry on top but moist below the surface. Follow instructions on the packets, sowing in rows or broadcasting. When seedlings emerge, weed frequently.

Large seeds such as peas, beans or chard, can be sown individually by hand.

Check the packets for instructions on spacing and depth. Plant out cell tray-raised seeds when they’ve developed roots and shoots.

LOOK AFTER YOUR TOMS

Young plants are vulnerable to cold. If planted outdoors before late May, they must be protected, even until June.

Young plants are vulnerable to cold. If planted outdoors before late May, they must be protected, even until June

You need to know whether they are bush varieties or trainable as cordons. The former, known as ‘determinate’ varieties, can grow as they like. But cordon or ‘indeterminate’ plants need training on a cane or support. Side shoots must be removed as soon as they appear.

BABY PLANTS

Delicate plugs or young plants need potting up or transferring to your plot as soon as possible after delivery. Tender plants such as tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers must be protected from frost.

Have fleece ready for overnight protection when frost is forecast.

You could use old net curtains, but fleece is easier and can be reused. Read the instructions. Water regularly and protect from birds — especially collared doves and pigeons.

GROWN IN CONTAINERS 

Large pots, troughs, special planters and raised beds are all great for growing food.

Fill containers with good- quality potting compost and make sure they all drain freely.

You can sow seed directly into your conta-iners, or elsewhere and move the baby plants into them.

Large pots, troughs, special planters and raised beds are all great for growing food

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