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Archive for March, 2010


Article on urban vegetable growing, in particular roof gardens.

Vegetables can be grown in small spaces – just choose your varieties carefully. Some of the best advice that I have read on growing your own is to grow food that you like and that tastes better than the supermarket. When starting out, don’t be too ambitious: successfull crops will gives you a great confidence boost but failings in crops – which might be nothing to do with inexperience – can have a very negative effect on whether you are inspired to grow more.

Let’s hope Monty Don is right when he says that grow your own is not a media fad and is here to last.

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I’ve sown a good deal of seeds recently and am letting most of the germinate in the reletive warmth inside, covering them with newspaper to keep in the moisture. As soon as the seedlings appear I ship them out to the polytunnel to stop them from ‘bolting’ from being too warm.

My order of 120 bare-rooted Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ plants arrived last week from Pomona Fruits and needed planting within 24 hours – always good to know when you find then on the doorstep 15 minutes before the school run – needless to say it took a little longer than this and I duely roped in my Dad to come and help first thing the next day. I have planted them far denser than you would normally for showing purposes in the hope that each pot will give the impression of one large plant. I love my strawberries – they started growing within a few hours of planting – which was a superb morale boost compared with staring at trays of compost waiting for seedlings to appear!

I have a standard goosebery tree and some cordon redcurrants to go in the fruit bed with the strawberries – supplied by the specialist fruit growers Chris Bowers and Sons. With any luck these will put on some decent growth in the next couple of months….if we get some of our nice spring weather back.

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Preparation

First things first, I bought myself a polytunnel from Grow Up, which was very straightforward to assemble and great value. It will mean that I can control the growth of many of the plants without having to worry too much about fluctuations in the weather. As I am lulled into a false sense of security by the stunning spring weather we’ve had this week, many people warn me that April can be a horrid month and I have no room for issues arising from late frosts or hail storms.

My first port of call with regards to growing advice was from a superb trade nursery near me in Henley called Orchard Dene whose plant knowledge is second to none.

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It was great news to find out that I was one of three winners of NS&I’s Growing Garden’s Today competition to build a show garden at BBC Gardener’s World Live 2010. It’s an exciting prospect but also a daunting one as the amount of work involved becomes apparent.

This is the first show garden I have designed and I hope that this blog will give an insight into what is involved in putting together this exhibit; from sourcing materials, plants and craftsmen to managing the team of people that I will need to help me realise the potential of this scheme.

The brief was to create a modern, sustainable ‘Grow Your Own’ garden, which resulted in my ‘Salad Bar’ garden. My main concern is that I am attempting to grow pretty much all the plants in the garden – many of them from seed – a task that is totally new to me. The only way I am going to make this work is by learning as much as I can – talking to everyone who will spare their time and knowledge. Thanks in advance to all those who hear me say – “I’ve just got one quick question…”

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