8 tips for growing your own vegetables
Grower Kathy Slack shares her expert advice for producing homegrown veggies in your garden
1. Courgettes do really well in pots. They're really prolific; one plant, if you keep picking, will feed a family for several months. Peas are obliging, too – you plant them: they grow. No pests, no disease, no fuss.
2. Salad leaves can be grown anywhere – and this applies to everything from icebergs to Italian baby leaf mixes. They are very successful in pots, of any size or shape, and in almost any conditions. An old ice-cream tub can become a seed tray; a bucket in the backyard can produce copious bowlfuls of leaves.
3. Having an allotment isn’t necessarily the answer to easy, abundant veg growing. When you have a lot of space further away from you, growing becomes a job that you have to fit in on a Saturday morning. When you grow in your garden, you can nip out for an hour or two at a time and keep it under control.
4. Growing vegetables isn’t a lot of work – but you do have to commit to doing things when nature wants them done. You can’t just leave things for a week… your patch will be a jungle and you’ll have missed the window to plant things out.
5. Grow unusual herbs like hyssop and chervil that you don’t find in shops. Hyssop (which is from the mint family) has beautiful purple flowers, so it’s a real winner in the garden.
6. Get inspired. Find a really good seed catalogue that’s got something unusual that you think you’d enjoy, and try that – something really outlandish like melons… they're really difficult to grow, but if you can do it – amazing!
7. Only grow stuff you’re going to eat! I don’t grow potatoes because they take up a lot of space. Grow the vegetables that excite you.
8. If you have a glut – cook and freeze. I freeze my French beans and do a lot of soups which freeze nicely, too. When the spinach or chard gets really bad – or really good! – I tend to take a machete to it, wilt it briefly, then plunge into cold water and squeeze into little blocks before popping in the freezer.
From The Veg Patch by Kathy Slack is out 10 June (Ebury Press, £25).