Ready, steady, grow your own! Heres five of the best for the kitchen garden
So, the major growing season is upon us and danger of frost will soon be a thing of the past. Theres no time to waste down on the vegetable plot and the sooner you start growing, the faster your crops will be making their way to the kitchen table.
Are you a newbie to kitchen garden vegetable growing? Heres our selection of five easy crops that can be sown and grown now.
Beetroot is a great vegetable to grow and is far tastier than the root that you buy in a supermarket!
How about trying some beetroot?
Beetroot has been described as a super food
by health experts and theres certainly a huge difference between home-grown beetroot and shop bought. Crimson King
are popular and successful varieties that dont bolt easily.
Seeds can be sown now, through to July. Sow approximately two to three seeds at 10cm intervals, around 2.5cm deep at fortnightly intervals and you can enjoy a succession of tasty, spherical roots which have a wonderful flavour
when quartered and roasted in oil. You can also eat the young foliage too, so there is very little waste. Harvest your roots after seven to 12 weeks between June to October but dont let them get big as they lose their tenderness.
Courgettes can be green, yellow, or striped and are generally best when picked young - i.e. up to 20cm long. There are also spherical courgettes too.
Get your courgettes started now
. Sow seed under glass until the end of May, or directly into the soil later in the month. Sow just two or three seeds around 2.5cm deep and if youre sowing outdoors in the kitchen garden, be sure to cover with cloches for at least two weeks after germination.
Start off more seedlings than you need but remember to thin them out once they start to grow. Otherwise all plants will compete for space and will be stunted.
Thin the seedlings, leaving only the strongest one and allow up to 100cm of space per plant. Most courgettes
are spreading veg that need lots of room. Once the courgettes appear, they will grow speedily so be sure to harvest regularly, when they are only around 12cm long. You can easily get up to 30 fruits per plant!
Courgettes are highly productive plants, with just one plant yielding up to 30 fruits during the growing season!
No summer is complete without runner beans!
are one of the easiest vegetables to grow but they dont like cold weather. Sow seeds indoors to start them off and move them outdoors once the weather is warm. The kitchen garden will look all the more decorative with a bean climbing frame support!
Runner beans are so rewarding to grow. They grow vertically and should produce a good crop provided they receive water regularly.
Varieties with pink or white flowers such as Painted Lady or Mergoles are often more reliable. Many people also pinch out growing tips when they are only around 15cm high so that they produce many more side-shoots. Give them regular water and a sturdy wigwam support so they can grow around 230cm tall or so. Youll be enjoying runner beans
for around eight weeks or more once the flowers are pollinated and the bean pods are set! Be sure to pick the beans before the beans inside begin to swell. Up to 20cm long is ideal, but dont allow them to become giants!
Young lettuce seedlings, ready to be planted out. Salad crops are so easy to grow and you can cut what you need just as you are about to eat it!
Growing salad crops
such as lettuce
is a superbly easy task because it sprouts so quickly and is simple to harvest. You can just snip the tops off the plants and take straight to the kitchen. Salad seed can be sown and grown in trays and containers and all you need to watch out for are the salad-chomping slugs! You don't even need to have a kitchen garden in order to grow salad crops.
Then there are herbs.
What could be easier than perennial herbs
such as rosemary, sage, thyme
? Grow them in your borders, in your kitchen garden, or create a herb garden
near the kitchen door. They look decorative and can be harvested all year round. Plant now for a burst of flavourful delight whenever you need it.
Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Oregano are all perennial herbs that are so easy to grow. Just snip off what you need and use in the kitchen.
Thyme to appreciate this aromatic delight
make charmingly decorative garden plants and you only need look at thyme growing around stepping stones to appreciate the versatility of this great little plant. Provided its grown in fairly poor, free-draining soil in a sunny position, the Mediterranean creeping plant will thrive and add charm, scent, structure and character to a suitable space. Thymus
comes in different varieties and apart from the dusky pink flowered variety there are thyme plants with white flowers and both golden and variegated forms such as the wonderfully citrus lemon thyme.
Thyme can look amazing when it grows in cracks in paving
Thyme is sometimes referred to as always the bridesmaid but never the bride just because it looks insignificant with its diminutive foliage and low, mounding form. However, not only does thyme excel in filling in cracks where many other plants would refuse to grow, but it has medicinal
and culinary uses
Thyme can be used straight from the garden or it can also be dried. Its aromatic foliage keeps for ages.
It is said that thyme has the ability to help relieve stress, improve respiratory problems, boost the immune system, improve heart health and prevent fungal infections. Whats more, it tastes good too. It can be used to add flavour
to stews, stocks, stuffing, fish, lamb, chicken and more. Truly a plant with a pleasureful punch!
Herbs, perennials and vegetables available from Perfectplants.co.uk