Once an allotment (or window box) is prepared and ready for planting,how does the first time gardener know what to grow?
In getting the ground or planter ready, the gardener will have an idea of the type of soil at the site: is it a peaty soil, with good drainage, or is it a clay based soil, which holds the water? Other factors to consider when thinking ahead to sowing seeds is how much rain and sun the plot is likely to receive, and to plan ahead against cold snaps and early frosts.
These are important factors to consider. If in doubt, consult an experienced gardener, or read some garden manuals to find out more. In general, gardening should be regarded as a trial and error process, and most gardeners learn from the mistakes they make, i.e if certain seeds or seedlings do not grow, and find that this enhances the experience.
Growing Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
Gardening focuses people upon the growing seasons, and eating food hand grown by themselves is a valuable connection with the ecology of the soil and plants. Most of the consumers in the UK have got used to buying fruits and vegetables at the supermarkets, which import out of season vegetables from all around the world. This creates a lack of connection with the fertile soil of the UK, and the wonderful produce grown here across the four seasons and the agricultural year.
Fruits to grow in the winter growing season between november to February include blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and whitecurrants. These fruits grow as bushes, and can be grown from seed, although are easier to grow if bought as year old plants from a garden supplier or nursery.
Rhubarb is a wonderful plant, and quite easy to grow in a range of soil types, including in an acid soil. Buy as a small crown seedling, plant it with plenty of space around it, in early april, and enjoy it for several seasons.
Strawberries can be planted in 2 growing periods: between february and mid april, and between september and november. Young strawberry plants are known as runners, and need a lightly manured soil.They grow well both in pots as well as allotments.
Apple trees are always a good investment, either on allotments or in the garden. They are available between october and march, and research should be done to find the variety which suits the local soil type.
Gardeners should decide which vegetables they which to grow, then approach an organic seed supplier (or their local plant nursery) to find when the right planting season for their chosen vegetable is.
A few examples of vegetables and their planting seasons are:
- Artichoke: sow in april
- Asparagus: sow between march and april
- Aubergine: sow in gentle heat (ideally a greenhouse or in cloches) in February and march, harvest from august
- Beans, French: raise in pots under glass in april, plant out from may to july
- Beans, broad: many varieties can be grown in autumn for a may crop
- Beetroot: should be grown in warm soil from april to june
- Brussels Sprouts: sow under glass in January and February for an early crop in early summer.
- Different varieties of sprouts can be grown to provide crops from September through to march.