Any-sized Gardening Tips
Getting some fresh air is good for your body and mind, and even 20 mins of sunlight and exercise can have a positive impact. It could be going for a walk in a local park, pottering away in your garden… even opening your window to enjoy the breeze is better than nothing. Doing something to put a smile on your face is more important than ever due to lockdown, and we want to help. If you’ve nabbed yourself an allotment (lucky!) or want to up your gardening game at home and grow your own flowers and ingredients, this helpful guide is just what you need.
Small space, mighty plants
There is a lot of fun involved when planning your garden space and the great thing is, you don’t need much room to get growing. You can use pots and planters to grow anything from beautifully blooming flowers to your favourite fresh produce. There are some limitations, so you won’t be growing a sky-high apple tree in a pot, however there are plenty of ways to make your outdoor space lush and productive. Potatoes, onions, strawberries, and chili peppers are all pot-friendly fruit and veg that only require between 12”-18” of soil.
If you’d prefer to keep it floral, Cosmos, Clematis, Hosta and Busy Lizzies will flourish in pots and planters, and are perfect for the beginner or expert gardener. If you don’t have a garden or have access to plant in a communal space, there are some great options that work on windowsills. Try growing pea shoots, cress and herbs such as basil, parsley and chives or go even further with kale, baby beetroot and radishes.
Tips to get your garden spring ready
To get your soil, pots and windowsills ready we have some helpful tips and tricks from new gardener, Sarah, who helpfully volunteered to get her hands dirty on our behalf, and will no doubt be reaping the beautiful and delicious benefits of getting green-fingered on your doorstep.
1. How to Grow Vegetables from Seed
It’s still a little cold to sow seeds directly outside, but from February onwards it’s OK to get started indoors so you can enjoy early harvests of delicious homegrown produce like lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and chillies to name but a few.
Our Grow Your Own Complete Vegetable Starter Kit includes 8 different fruit and vegetable seeds. Our set includes coir compost pellets that swell and expand when you add water, giving you heaps of top quality compost for planting without having to lift heavy bags of compost. We soaked and mixed these in recycled food packaging but you could use any tub or a ceramic mixing bowl. It’s a bit like magic, the way the pellets create so much compost, so if you have any little people, be sure to get them involved as it’s such good fun and great for kids to learn about where food really comes from!
Follow instructions for specific seeds but the principle is the same in every case - just add seed or seeds to a pot 80% filled with compost and top with a thin layer of compost. You will have more compost than you need initially so store it for potting on at the next stage.
Water and keep pots moist at all times on a windowsill. Pop a plastic bag on to increase temperature (like a mini greenhouse) and collect moisture as it evaporates and runs back into the pot to be reused by the growing plant.
Each variety has its own instructions on how and when to plant out, but just a little preparation now means you can look forward to wandering into your garden later this year and harvesting your own fresh food – thinking about what meals you can make with what’s freshly picked just minutes ago. No need to pop to the shops, pop outside and pick instead!
How amazing will that feel?
2. Growing on Vegetable Plants in a Grozone
Most plants will be ready to pot on into larger 20cm pots after several weeks when seedlings have reached the suggested height (check specific variety instructions) and the roots are established.
Before planting out, it’s a good idea to help your plants acclimatise to the outside in a cold frame or mini greenhouse like our Timber GroZone.
If you don’t have anything like this, you can use an unheated conservatory or place outside during the day and bring in at night until the risk of frost has passed. You want the soil to warm enough for plants that have hardened off.
A GroZone is also a great place for plants that would benefit from extra insulation like tomatoes or chillies that like the heat to help them ripen in the British sun. Warmer temperatures can improve the flavour.
We’re imagining our own bruschetta for brunch in the garden, made with homegrown tomatoes, lashings of balsamic vinegar, a good olive oil and handful of fresh basil. Yum!
3. Creating a Strawberry Trough Planter
Growing strawberries off the ground in pots or planters is a handy hack to protect your fruit crop from being nibbled by slugs and snails. It also means you can save on the straw to keep the crop clean and move your strawberry plants to catch the sun so they ripen quicker -then even return to the shade if it gets too hot.
Strawberry plants put down runners each year and reproduce very quickly so you can easily double your plants season on season if you replant in the ground after the crop is finished.
In keeping our crop off ground we lined our Trough Planter with recycled plastic packaging or you could use a small grow bag. The base lifts out so it’s easy to measure. We filled it with a mixture of compost and mulched garden soil, to help retain moisture.
Simply cut the plastic to size once weighted down by soil and strawberry plants. We used plants from around the patio and thinned out plants from last year’s fruit bed. If you don’t have existing plants, try ‘Temptation’ strawberries you can start off from our Grow Your Own Complete Vegetable Starter Kit. It’s a delicious generous variety!
Remember you can move the planter to different areas of the garden where you may get a greater yield from a sunnier spot. Once fruit starts to form you might want to add a net to keep off the birds.
One of the joys of early summer is wandering barefoot into the garden with your first cup of tea and picking a strawberry or two for breakfast as you potter around your veg patch.
Can you picture it?
4. Creating an Indoor Herb Garden
Even if you don’t have an outside space you can still get involved in growing your own with a crop of fresh herbs. Imagine all the delicious home cooked curries and plant based meals you can with delicious full flavoured fresh herbs picked at source right there while you are cooking.
Our Allotment Windowsill Herb Pots comes with Basil, Parsley and Chive seeds, compost pellets and stylish pots to sow the seeds directly in, so that you turn your sunny kitchen window sill in to a mini allotment – crop after crop after crop!