Some good friends are moving to a bigger home with a smaller garden, and are looking for tips on good veg to grow in small spaces.
My new blogger status seems to have given me expert status amongst said friends, and I’ve always been happy to blag it (wine-waitressing as a teenager honed my skills), so here’s my tips:
[However, I’m sure they would really appreciate advice from experienced growers too, so if my blogging friends could add their hints and tips in the comments that’d be ace. They’re in London, so it should be a fairly friendly growing environment – I don’t know what the soil’s like or the garden aspect.]
– Think about what you actually really like eating. If you’re not going to grow a lot of variety, make sure you’ll absolutely love eating what you do grow. We had stacks of runner beans this year, but none of us are that keen. Bean fatigue set in very early.
– if you do love climbing and runner beans, they can be really heavy croppers and you’ll get more than you can eat from a wigwam of bamboos and 4-6 plants. They freeze well too. However, they do like lots of richness in the soil and plenty of water. I prepared the soil by digging a hole (1ft deep x 2ft width) and over-filling it with farmyard manure. Then I staked the bamboos (and grew a plant up each) in a circle around the edge to make my wigwam. That way the roots have nice rich and moisture-retaining muck to grow into. NB. plants grown up wigwams do tend to get a bit tangled at the top, making them difficult to harvest. This year I’ll go with a straight ridge support, but that takes up a bit more space I guess.
– tomatoes could work well. Lots of people grow them in pots or gro-bags, but Monty ‘The Don’ reckons you get a much better taste when they’re grown in the earth. A single sturdy post (not a bamboo) should be used to support each plant, and you’ll need a sunny spot. Little trailing tomato plants could work well in a sunny pot.
– I’m a big fan of courgettes. Neither Mr MBaF nor Miss MBaF like them so I just grew one plant, but while I kept picking them they were prolific. They might do OK in a big pot, but they’ll need lots of watering and nice rich compost.
– salad crops and herbs are a must. Lettuce, radishes and spring onions can all work well in pots and grow quickly. Bought lettuce goes limp in the fridge so quickly that having fresh on your doorstep is ideal.
– I’m not the most successful herb grower when it comes to tender parsley and basil. But I know that you’ve got to treat thyme, rosemary and sage mean to keep them keen. Give them poor soil that drains really freely, so put loads of stones in the bottom of your pot (or hole) and cover them with a shallow layer of soil or compost mixed with plenty of grit.
I’ll add anything else I think of later! Good luck!