Love your spring garden

Love your spring garden

Lynnette Peck looks at what planting to do in your garden, or on your balcony, at this time of year

Lynnette Peck looks at what planting to do in your garden, or on your balcony, at this time of year.

With spring just around the corner, February is the time to get busy:

  • dig soil over, if your garden isn’t too frozen or waterlogged
  • turn any compost you have
  • tidy up debris on beds and lawns, especially leaves that have been left mulching since November (we are all guilty)

It’s also time to plant vegetables and herbs ready for spring and summer. Growing vegetables is immensely satisfying and healthy of course… does it still count as healthy though if I eat my home-grown cucumbers with a bowl of honey-roasted cashews?

Small spaces

If you only have a small space, then you want a big return from any crops you grow.

  • I find that salads are the ultimate crop when space is at a premium: they grow quickly and are full of flavour when home grown. You can grow the equivalent of over 100 supermarket salad bags in one year on one small balcony. Grow them in a pot, trough or grow bag.
  • If opting for a pot for vegetable seeds fill a 3in (7.5cm) one with compost (choose compost designed for containers) and water – then scatter seeds, label and pop on your window ledge or balcony to germinate.
  • A couple of weeks later seedlings should appear and then, six weeks after that, be big enough to move to a 5in (12.5cm) pot.

Pot planting

I also like to be imaginative with my pots and I don’t just buy black plastic ones.

  • I have vintage ceramic pots, old welly boots (good for planting carrots) and painted deep metal tins (great for beans).
  • For sowing something bigger, I use big pink plastic trugs (potatoes love them).

February foods

You might wonder if it’s still too early, but there are other foods to sow now (February):

  • basil, parsley and coriander (on your windowsill)
  • cucumber and tomato plants (greenhouse or balcony)
  • leeks (start them now under cover)
  • sprouting broccoli (harvest in April)
  • sweet peppers (grow in a heated greenhouse)

Last but definitely not least, now is the time to chit potatoes on a windowsill (that’s when you encourage them to start sprouting).

Tomato tips

Tomatoes are amongst the most rewarding of vegetables to grow as they are easy and size of space doesn’t matter, as long as the spot they grow in is warm and sheltered.

  • If growing tomatoes and you find yourself with a ton of green ones, then pop them in a kitchen drawer with a banana – and as if by a miracle they will ripen. Children particularly enjoy participating in this gardening magic show.
  • Check seed packets to see which varieties grow best in greenhouses or polytunnels and which are suited to indoors, containers and hanging baskets.
  • You can yield about 10lbs worth of tomatoes from one plant so start thinking about tomato-based recipes pronto.
  • Plus, plants will keep producing over a few months so they are not a one-month-pony!

My top tip

Buy Blooming Lovely Garden Planner  by Caroline Gardner – this folder book has dividers, graph papers, stickers, lined planning pages, seed packets and seed markers to help you plan your garden all year around.

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Forgot to add

loubob 18/02/2017

When your tomato mix is ready, pour into containers of varying sizes and freeze. Can be used as tomato soup or added to and dish that requires a tomato sauce.

Love this lady

loubob 18/02/2017

I look forward to Spring and how to plan my garden. Lynette has very good tips and I always look forward to her articles. Have followed the banana tip for years. Also if I have a glut of tomatoes, I boil them, (peel comes off easily)then pulse them, sieve and I have loads of tomato soup for the winter. You can add onions, leeks to the mix again just par boil them and pulse and sieve. It is messy and time consuming but well worth the effort.

Broccoli is wonderful

Anthy 14/02/2017

Broccoli is easy to grown and my children LOVE it. It is so easy to give them an healthy life.

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