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Vegetable Garden

How to Grow Your Own Food on a Balcony Garden

January 23, 2021

How to Grow Your Own Food on a Balcony Garden

How to Grow Your Own Food on a Balcony Garden

If 2020 taught us anything, it was that getting outside into gardens or walking in parks and spending time immersed in nature was good for us. Seeds became almost impossible to buy as online suppliers of fruit, herbs and vegetables opened and shut their websites to cater for demand. Garden centres were busy providing online and postal services, cars gathered outside garden and forestry walks as their owners took the time to get some exercise. Gardening photos were shared across all social media channels beguiling us with their vibrancy and enthusiasts prowess.

That was all well and good for those of us who’ve been trying to encourage everyone to grow their own food or get outside for years, or who have some space to potter around. What about the folk who were stuck in apartments with tiny balconies, unable to get out and share in all the fun? It must have been very difficult to sit back and watch our enthusiasm as spring turned into summer, watching our gardens blossom from bare soil to an oasis of colour and calm.

The good news is that a balcony does not have to limit your growing experiences. With food supply chains expected to falter due to new import regulations this year might be the one to have a go at growing food, even if it’s just a few tubs of salad leaves.

In no particular order, for the next few minutes I’ll be sharing some considerations you might like to take into account if you’re wondering how to grow your own food on a balcony garden this year.

Flowers & Vegetables growing on a balcony

Photo Credit: Samantha Murray

Wind

Wind direction is a factor in any garden, but especially important on balconies. The wind can damage, break or blow over plants and planters and provide a ‘wind chill’ element that can freeze them half to death. Moisture can be whipped from plants leaves and compost may dry out quicker than you can sneeze.

If you have glass surrounding your balcony, it will benefit by stopping the wind in its tracks, while providing some additional warmth, acting like the side of a greenhouse. If not, you might like to consider adding a clear screen, securing your planters, choosing plants wisely, and adding a mulch on top of the compost to prevent drying.

Weight

Safety is always a priority in the garden and balconies are no exception. Ensure your balcony is capable of taking the weight of plants and planters. Think how heavy a bag of compost is then multiply it by the amount of containers you’re planning for your balcony. The weight of water will add even more of a load, especially if the containers become waterlogged.

Pallet Garden in GoresbridgeBalconies are covered under the Building Regulations but the boom years saw some shoddy workmanship. If you’re unsure, check with the owner or management company. In the meantime there are steps you can take to reduce the weight.

  • Choose light weight containers.
  • Mix potting compost with perlite as per the instructions on the bag. Perlite is a type of volcanic rock that should be available in all garden centres.
  • If using large containers, don’t fill them up completely with soil. Crush some aluminium cans or food grade plastic and place in the bottom third of the container, before covering with a piece of weed proof membrane and topping up with compost. The fabric will allow water to filter through, while protecting the growing medium from the recycled materials.
  • Some multi purpose composts, which are ideal for for container growing, weigh more than others. Shop around and look for peat free or sustainably sourced peat where possible. Enrich Soil Solutions have a great range of products if you’re struggling to find something suitable.
  • Use the walls. Put up some vertical planters to take some weight off the balcony floor.

Fruit and Vegetables that Grow in ShadeShade & Sun

Choosing the sunniest spot to grow your fruit and vegetables is a mantra you’ll often hear but if you’re in a flat or apartment, you might not have a choice. If you are north facing with limited sunlight, there are still some vegetables you can grow. A more detailed article can be found here. South facing and you’ll have to consider shading to protect plants from being over exposed.

Choosing Containers

Balconies provide an opportunity to have a bit of fun with containers, either using upcycled household items or colourful pots from garden centres. You can find a more detailed post about container gardening here. A few tips worth considering include:

  • Use the largest container possible or you will have to water more often.
  • Unglazed Terracotta can get frost damaged.
  • Plastic pots can dry out as they heat up so consider irrigation.
  • If using upcycled materials, consider the following:

“Plastic that is safe to grow food in/with should have recycling numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 on the bottom. Plastic with a 3 has PVC in it. In time chemicals leach out contaminating soil, which in turn contaminates the food. Styrofoam is made of plastic number 6 and has cancerous effects, Number 7 contains bisphenol A which is harmful to the behavioral growth of children.”

  • You can grow pretty much any plant in a container if the container is large enough and you have ensured there is suitable drainage. As mentioned, the main considerations are the direction your balcony faces and how exposed it is. Tender plants such as basil may not survive windy conditions and thyme really dislikes it too.
  • Variegated herbs can be slower growing, so good for containers.
  • Perennials should ideally be replanted in fresh compost each year which is a good time to check the roots for pests
  • If buying plants, choose dwarf varieties, varieties that are expensive or unusual to buy, herbs, or fruit that can be trained vertically to save space.

Watering

By its very nature, container gardening requires more watering than planting into soil or raised beds and windy conditions can add to the drying effects.

To save you popping out there twice a day with a watering can during the growing season, consider investing in a drip feed irrigation system, or stand plants on capillary matting. Look out for containers that have built in water reservoirs or stand pots in trays to catch excess water.

Lockdown Videos

During the first COVID lockdown in 2020, Samantha Murray shared some videos and photo updates onto the Community Gardens Ireland Facebook Page from her Dublin balcony and has kindly given me permission to use them here. She was an inspiration to many. Take a look at one of Sam’s videos below that she published in April. You can find more on the Facebook page, including tips on some of the more unusual containers she used to start off seeds such as avocado shells.

For more garden hacks on using recycled kitchen waste to save you some money and the recycling centres from the additional waste, take a look at the Greenside Up YouTube channel here.

If you’ve figured out the best or unusual ways to grow your own food on a balcony garden and have any further tips or observations, please leave them in the comments. With more people growing their own food than ever, we’d love to hear your tips and help the communities of people growing food everywhere, no matter what their size or experience.

Lifestyle

Having Fun With the Colour Purple

August 19, 2016

Having Fun With the Colour Purple

“I have friends who are black, white, purple, grey straight, Martian, yellow, old and young. I have friends who are animals and a few who I believe to be robots. All of them are people to me. In my mind it’s not about what you look like or what you do, it’s about who you are inside.” Tracy Morgan

The Colour Purple

Having fun with the colour purple

I was looking up the meaning of the colour purple for this article and came across the above quote; my thoughts exactly though I couldn’t have written them nearly so well.

Maybe we’ve become more aware now we carry the news in our pockets, but as a result of reading about the violence and inequalities that appear when screens are opened, my gratitude for everything we have at home is growing.

Our children and pets, the garden and space, the solitude, flora and fauna, the landscape and climate – yes we have to work hard to maintain our lifestyle, but we’re tremendously blessed to live in a country that’s not at war, something many aren’t. Our hopes for our children are that it will always stay the same but who knows. Life’s uncertainties and the realisation that we’ve spent 16 years renovating our old farmhouse and doing very little else have this year resulted in us deciding to embrace life, to journey around our little island and to introduce some FUN into our daily existence.

That’s why we considered painting the patio purple rather choosing a ‘safe’ landscaping material. It’s such a cheerful colour and blends in with so much around us.

Having fun with the colour purple

Thankfully Ian is with me all away on the colour and agreed to let me run with it. The result: he’s as happy as I am and is talking about painting the back of our house purple too, “why stop at the front?” he says.

A concrete slab or a dry seating area

Having fun with the colour purpleOur one acre site has evolved organically and the patio is no exception. We didn’t plan to have a seating area next to the front door, overlooking the driveway. Yet nine years ago when the lorry delivered too much concrete for the new hallway floor, we had to make a quick decision. We asked the driver to dump the excess in exactly that spot, not thinking about the long-term consequences. We leveled the quick drying substrate as best we could before it set and ever since, that dreary grey slab measuring 3.6m X 2.6m has been the only dry surface seating area in our garden.

Having fun with the colour purpleI used to blame the Irish weather for not wanting to sit outside for long; it was too chilly or windy and not conducive to relaxation. But I was wrong, it had nothing to do with the temperature but more to do with the uninspired outdoor seating.

Since the transformation, we’re enjoying sitting outside so much we’re already talking about creating another outdoor space in one of the ruins that we can cover with tarpaulin to keep the showers off. It might house the pallet-made bar and stools that are next on Ian’s woodwork list as well as the barbecue and fire pit that rarely make it out of the shed.

But that’s a job for 2017, for now we’re looking forward to lots of outdoor entertaining and evenings bat and stargazing. If you’re wondering how we created this low-cost, tiny purple patio read on.

Three is the Magic Number

Once I began to think of paint as an alternative to other landscaping surfaces, three things happened simultaneously.

Having fun with the colour purpleFirstly I asked my herb garden clients from Advanced Coatings for some advice on outdoor concrete paint and they generously gifted me some of their Tikkurila product range by way of a thank you for the planting design we’d worked together to create. I looked through the sheath of colours on offer, finally choosing a shade of purple that would complement our plum coloured limestone driveway, the royal purple front door and the lilac window surrounds.

Having fun with the colour purpleSecondly Ian discovered a love for pallet furniture, having made a couple of vertical planters recently. He built a pallet herb planter fence that borders the patio, able to hold lots of herbs that can be grabbed while we’re cooking, saving us the short but often crucially timed walk to the veggie patch. Everything planted into the fence has been grown from seed in our polytunnel and includes mixed salad leaves, coriander, thyme, sage, parsley and rainbow beetroot.

Not content with pallet planters and fencing, this flurry of woodworking led Ian to build two pallet seats that will be part of the pop up community garden that I was invited to coordinate again in the Global Green village at Electric Picnic. The low seat was made from one and a half pallets, the larger one used two. Ian’s talking about making more benches and a coffee table. I’m holding my breath, bringing him lots of tea and hoping he doesn’t get bored with his new hobby too soon!

Having fun with the colour purpleThe third element in the patio makeover is that we took a trip to ReCreate in Dublin and stocked up on hessian sacks, artificial grass, woollen off-cuts and many other adornments that will be helping us, along with the other ten stakeholders involved, create a fun space at the music festival.

ReCreate is a remarkable organisation that was recently shortlisted for the €100K Social Entrepreneur Inspire fund. The idea behind the enterprise is that they store unwanted, end of line surplus materials from business and make them available to members such as schools, pre-schools, youth groups and art groups for create activities. Many of the items and materials would ordinarily end up in landfill but thanks to this innovative idea, they’re now being used to create pieces of art. The idea is that groups pay an annual membership fee and take what they want as often as they want from the warehouse. It’s a treasure chest of goodies, an Aladdin’s Cave for crafting. We spent three hours there like kids in a toy shop and could easily have stayed longer. ReCreate will be part of the Global Green garden at the Festival too and we’re looking forward to spending more time with them.

Come and Visit Us at Electric Picnic

Having fun with the colour purpleBar the purple floor, most of our patio will be heading to this year’s Electric Picnic Music Festival, along with a concept tree that Ian’s now creating with ReCreate remnants. 

If you’re at Electric Picnic do drop by and say hello. There are lots of events, activities, seating and crafts planned for Global Green that will encourage people to think about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. You might even go home with some seating ideas of your own.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this and have a small garden or patio that you’re considering making over yourself, the following article contains suggestions for 14 vegetables you might like to grow in a small garden.

Vegetable Garden

How to Grow Vegetables in Containers

June 8, 2015
How to grow vegetables in containers

A Container Grown Vegetable Garden

Not all of us are blessed (depending upon your point of view) with lots of land to grow vegetables at home and there may not be an allotment or community garden close to you. The UK has a great scheme called Landshare created in 2009 by River Cottage where people with land share it with those who don’t, now with over 74,900 members, but it’s not something that’s really taken off here in Ireland.

You might have the space to grow your own food but not enough hours to spare, or you may feel it’s a bit of a waste of time when veg can be picked up so cheaply in supermarkets.

How to grow vegetables in containersWe all have reasons for not growing our own food but if it’s something you’ve considered having a go at but haven’t yet begun, container gardening is a good way of starting. Aside from herbs, the very first vegetables I grew were in containers in the form of runner beans, garlic and carrots.

Almost all vegetables can be grown in containers – as few or as many as suits your lifestyle and if they’re recycled pots, all the better.

In fact if you’re new to growing veg, having planters around your door, window or balcony might be all that’s needed to get the veg growing bug. Once you’ve experienced the pleasures of harvesting your own food and eating it, who knows what’ll happen next!

How to grow vegetables in containers

1. Choose your seeds well

Start with reliable, quick-growing veg that you like to eat. Many varieties of seeds are bred to grow especially well in pots and containers, so keep an eye out for them as you’re more likely to receive good results from them.

  • How to grow vegetables in containerschoose what you like to eat: rocket, radish or mixed lettuce, cherry tomatoes or baby carrots, peas or salad potatoes can easily be grown outside a sunny door.
  • Bamboo or hazel canes can be decoratively tied in your container for growing mangetout, peas or runner beans.
  • If you’re pushed for time, buy some ready grown plants from a garden centre and plant them straight into your containers for instant gratification!
  • Look out for the label CCU (Cut and Come Again), more common with varieties of lettuce. This means you can take a few leaves off each plant when you need them and not harvesting the plant.
  • Many of the vegetables suggested in the post “growing vegetables in small gardens” are also suitable for container vegetables gardens.
How to grow vegetables in containers

Greenside Up Pinterest Board – Container Gardening

2. Choose your containers

Most recycled containers are ideal for growing in as long as they’ve been thoroughly washed and cleaned out. Line them before adding compost (old pure wool jumpers or socks make perfect plant pot liners) and bare the following in mind:

“Plastic that is safe to grow food in/with should have recycling numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 on the bottom. Plastic with a 3 have PVC in them. In time chemicals leach out contaminating soil, which in turn contaminates the food. Styrofoam is made of plastic number 6 and have cancerous effects, Number 7 has bisphenol A which is harmful to the behavioural growth of children.”

A quick tip: the smaller the container, the quicker the compost will dry out, so as much fun as some of the quirky containers are that we see on Pinterest, unless you can make sure your plants will get a good water every day, try to stick to large containers.

How to grow vegetables in containers

These colourful containers really make me smile, but be prepared to water them frequently

Old tyres, baths, toilets and sinks have all been used to grow plants in. Thick plastic ‘laundry bags’ are great for growing potatoes, or brush up on your woodwork skills and you could also have a go at making your own window boxes and planters too – pallets are ideal for this purpose.

3. Drainage

Lack of drainage can cause as many problems as lack of water.

Baby bath container Serenity Community GardenWater must be able to escape in whatever you’re using so it’s important to make sure there are holes in the container that you’ve chosen to plant vegetables in. Most shop bought containers already have holes in them, or marks where you can punch the holes out. If you’re making do, you may need to make holes in your bag or container near the base (a masonry drill set at slow speed will work on earthenware, place tape on the surface before drilling).

Once you have holes in your container you can add ‘crocks’ to the base. We save all our broken cups, mugs and plates for this purpose, and are often reminded of old favourites when we clean them out again.

If you haven’t got anything broken to hand, a layer of washed gravel or chippings works well. Placing crocks over the holes will stop the compost from blocking the hole, and if you’re lucky enough to have some zinc mesh that you can cut to size, this can be placed over the holes and then the crocks added, which will help to prevent pests burrowing back into your pots.

container vegetable gardening4. Potting mix

In the past I’ve successfully grown vegetables in multipurpose compost and grow bags but being ‘soiless’ and peat based they dry out quickly and as highlighted by Gardeners World, contribute significantly to global warming. Peat free organic alternatives are now a readily available alternative which work well in containers.

Many gardeners swear by potting mixes that are John Innes based. These have been devised at the The John Innes Centre and each have different component mixes. They’re loam (soil) based with different quantities of loam, limestone and peat, depending upon their usage. So, for example, John Innes Seed Compost is for growing seedlings, and John Innes No 1 more suitable for slow-growing plants or tiny spring seedlings. No 2 is the general multi-purpose compost but No 3, a stronger mix, would be ideal for strong growers such as tomatoes, or sweet peas.

Whichever potting mix you choose or is available to you, it’s important that its fresh and disease free. Buy your compost from a supplier that has a fast turnover and when you get it home, once opened it’s recommended to store it in a plastic bag in a frost-free place. Always use fresh compost for seedlings, or they can suffer a disease called damping off (where they just flop over and die).

Why use compost and not garden soil?

Garden soil will vary in its pH (acidity/alkalinity), is likely to contain weed seeds, may container disease spores and will vary in its nutrient levels.

How to grow vegetables in containers5. Watering

Container plants will need regular watering, and if it’s a particularly hot summer that could mean up to twice a day.

There are a few things you can do to ease this burden.

Set up an irrigation system. Simple drip feed irrigation kits are now readily available, and getting cheaper every year.

  • Look out for window boxes that contain built-in reservoirs.
  • Stand plants on trays lined with capillary mats or wet sand.

How to grow vegetables in containers6. Feeding

Generally, potting mixture has enough nutrients to last a few months. However if you notice a check in growth, or you’ve planted particularly ‘hungry’ feeders in your containers, liquid seaweed is full of nutrients and trace elements and can be watered into the soil in the containers as can home-made nettle or comfrey feeds.

7. Location

Most vegetables like to grow in a sunny spot. The garden highlighted in these photos in the centre of Carlow town is a little sun trap and everything grows really well here. The great thing about container gardening is that you can move the pots to the sunniest place and leave them there – you’re not constricted in the same way you might be with a garden.

Anything else to watch out for?

8. Pests

We have a cat who LOVES to sleep in containers full of lovely, warm compost, not caring a hoot whether it has tiny little carrot seedlings growing in it! If you’ve noticed cats around your containers or beds, this post here is full of tips that might help to keep cats away.

How to Grow Vegetables in Containers

Strawberry Vine Weevil Pupae

Slugs and snails find containers attractive too. Here’s 15 ways of dealing with them organically. Another tip I heard is to smear your containers with Vaseline which apparently makes them too slippery to climb!

Just like garden soil grown vegetables, container veg can be attractive to various pests such as strawberry or vine weevils, chafer grubs and leather jackets. Supernemos are an Irish business that have developed a biological control that are able to deal effectively with them. They might seem a little pricey but believe me, if you’ve ever lost your entire strawberry crop to this little weevil, you’ll find Supernemos worth every cent.

If you’d like some more ideas on container gardening, check out the Greenside Up Pinterest board here. There’s also a board sharing some ideas for a recycled garden that you might like to look at.

Have you had any experience growing vegetables in containers? Any tips you’d like to share?

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Green, Vegetable Garden

Growing Vegetables in Junk Containers

March 1, 2015

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Junk

Are you a hoarder? Do you have a regular de-clutter or are your cupboards bulging with ‘stuff’ that you might need one day? I felt like I’d grown up when the dustmen finally added our address to their round and could take away all the recycling that used to fill our sheds, but we seem to have replaced the empty space with junk.

Mr G and I are shocking hoarders, partly because we have sheds that we can move all the toot into once it’s no longer needed indoors and partly because we might need it one day. While I’ve always been fairly good at giving away clothes that our children have grown out of, I’m afraid toys and other junk are another matter. Despite our youngest approaching her twelfth birthday, we still have Telly Tubbies and Tweenies in boxes waiting to be sorted and sold and I’m sure I spotted a Thomas the Tank Engine ticket office buried deeply out there when I was looking for seed trays recently.

During the New Year festivities we were making plans for the months ahead and decluttering was high up on the list. There must be a child somewhere that would love a little playhouse of their own and maybe if the Tree Change Dolls woman wasn’t so far away she might like to turn a Bratz party bus into a camper van for her growing collection of fabulous revamped, au naturel dolls?

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Junk

Not just talking the talk

With the promise of spring I’ve stuck my head into the potting shed once again which I’m now sharing with the stack of ‘temporary’  boxes of stuff. Last year I ran a six-week course funded by Local Agenda 21 Partnership funding for the local Irish Wheelchair group, Growing Vegetables in Recycled Containers where the group were encouraged to look at their rubbish a bit differently. If it once contained something, could it be used again to hold compost and grow food in?

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Junk

I showed the group my Pinterest board that contains a few ideas and fair play, they got creative. They weren’t convinced they would like to eat food out of a container that had once held a pair of smelly feet, so we opted to pop some companion plants into the boots, and the jeans were a genius piece of fun and talking point. I’d love to have seen them in full bloom.

Grow Your Own Vegetables in JunkSome of the ideas we’d seen online and wanted to see if they worked, like the milk container that could be turned into a watering can or a compost scoop, both of which worked brilliantly. The 2 lt drink bottles were pretty cool too once washed, labels removed, drainage holes made and filled with seedlings instead of their previously unhealthy occupiers.

Grow Your Own Vegetables in JunkI’m due to do a couple of talks about growing vegetables in recycled containers in the coming months. One live streamed around the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency and another at the Rothe House Garden Festival in Kilkenny in June.

With these two events on the horizon I’ll be looking through the containers in the shed to see if there’s anything in there that I can take along. As long as drainage holes can be made in a container, we can pretty much use anything to grow food or flowers in it, toxic materials excepting.

Growing food in junk is a great way of beginning to grow your own vegetables. If you’re worried about the initial outlay of pots, compost, seeds, tools etc., immediately you’ve eliminated one of the costs and once you begin, it makes you much more aware of all the packaging our ‘stuff’ comes in and you may find yourself trying to reduce it as a result.

If you’d like some more tips about growing vegetables in containers of any description, check out this article.

Are you a hoarder or are you super efficient with your old junk? Have you any tips to help someone like me who can’t throw anything away?

 

Vegetable Garden

10 Tips for looking after your vegetable garden in drought conditions

July 19, 2013

This is a blog post I never thought I’d be writing in Ireland! With talks of draught and heatwaves and temperatures reaching in excess of 27ºC which puts the country in a Status Yellow situation, our poor gardens are looking brown and withered. Last year the farmers were supplementing their livestock with feed due to constant rain, this year they’re starting to feed them nuts and grain to protect the grass. Climate change is playing havoc and we have to learn to adapt.

drought in gardenAs gardeners you might be wondering what you can do to protect your plants in the garden during these high temperatures. We’re not in a position to water as much as the garden requires – clean water is an exhaustible resource and there’s talk of these high temperatures continuing throughout the summer.

Many people on our island draw their water from wells and are already wondering how best to protect this precious resource as talk circulates of wells running dry. If you’re using a mains supply it pays to be cautious too as reservoir levels begin to dip. Under these conditions you might be asking yourself when is the best time to water plants? Should you mow your grass or be watering it? What else can you do to protect your garden from drought?  Continue Reading…

Green

Upcycling Ideas for the Garden

February 10, 2012

7 Upcycling Ideas for the GardenReuse, recycle – do you?

‘Recycled’ doesn’t have to mean packing everything into a bin or bag and sending it off to the local centre. Recycling, or up cycling, is about thinking differently. It’s about coming up with ideas for reusing items that they weren’t originally intended for.

7 Upcycling Ideas for the GardenPallets are a big favourite of ours – from shelves to compost bins, gates to welly boot racks.

7 Upcycling Ideas for the GardenWe also use carrier bags, boots, old milk churns and anything else we can think of for garden containers.

7 Upcycling Ideas for the Garden

Box of crocks – saves buying drainage stones

Old cd’s and computer disks are kept and strung around the veggie patch in spring to act as bird scarers.

7 Upcycling Ideas for the GardenToilet roll inserts and food containers are saved ready for seed planting. My favourite was a dark bottomed sausage container, clear chicken container that fitted together perfectly, making a sweet little propagator but is was accidentally recycled ‘for real’… oops.

Surprisingly, once plants are growing in it, or latches are fixed to it, our junk no longer resembles rubbish at all.

Do you have any favourite ways of re-using your ‘rubbish’?

Vegetable Garden

Lettuce… how many should I plant?

May 14, 2011

I’m sure many of us starting out made the mistake of sowing all the lettuce seeds in the pack.

However, after years of growing this humble little salad crop I think I’ve finally sussed it. Six plants. Six little seeds of a loose leafed, cut and come variety is all a lettuce eating family needs… to be truthful we could probably get away with four. Four tiny seeds from a pack of 150 costing €2.50. If my maths are correct that’s just over one and a half cent per lettuce head.

There are many reasons for growing your own food but surely that alone makes it worthwhile?

Frilly little lettuce plants interplanted with colourful flowers look quite pretty in a window box too. Once the seeds have been sown (which takes a couple of minutes) all you have to do is remember to water them. That’s it. Once the plants have started to grow just plant another four (and so on) to keep your crop going.

The lettuce I’ve sown here is a cut and come variety (meaning you just pick the leaves as you need them, or snip the tops of with scissors rather than harvesting the whole plant).

These were planted in the polytunnel at the end of February. They grow well outdoors but you’d have to cover them with a cloche if you wanted to start them that early.

My favourites are the packets of mixed salad leaf varieties as they come in all colours, shapes and sizes.

By the way… slugs love lettuce, so it’s always a good idea to sow a few extra (one for the slug, one for the snail, one to eat and one to fail).  However, I’d planted marigolds (tagetes) next to these and not a single leaf was nibbled (the marigolds were just stalks though!)

So if you’ve never grown any veg before, why not give lettuce a go and then you’ll always have a bit of greenery to add to your sarnie at lunchtime.