Want to try grow-your-own but don’t know where to start?
Then start with us at our special event this weekend!
For two days only save 20% on our edibles - including vegetable & salad starter plants, herbs, fruit bushes and trees - and pick up some top tips too!
Discounts run Saturday 15th April to Sunday 16th April 2023.
How to grow tomatoes
On the whole, the more heat and sunshine, the tastier the tomato! However, if growing in greenhouses provide shade from scorching midday sun, and be sure to ventilate on the hottest summer days.
Try to be consistent with watering to avoid splitting of the fruit - tomatoes need a lot of water but don’t want to be waterlogged.
Tomatoes are hungry plants. Grow in a good multi-purpose compost and feed weekly with tomato feeds, seaweed extract or homemade comfrey mix once flowers appear.
Most varieties - known as cordons - benefit from a support cane to grow up: loosely tie in as necessary. Nip out any side shoots as soon as they start to form: you want the plant to concentrate its energy on the main stem. “Trusses” is the term for the clusters of flowers and fruits. Once several have formed you should nip off the top of the plant to stop it wasting energy getting taller.
Bush tomatoes don’t need any staking or nipping out!
Companion planting advice
Plant herbs and flowers among your vegetable and salad plants to help them grow better!
English Marigolds, Sweet Peas and most herbs will draw in bees which will increase pollination of your plants.
Among the plants that will deter aphids from your crops are Chives, Thymes, Oregano (Marjoram), French Marigolds and Nasturtiums.
Parsley, Dill, Coriander, Fennel, Achillea (yarrow), Verbenas, Monarda and daisy flowers such as Cosmos and Sunflowers can attract predatory insects such as ladybirds that will eat aphid.
Chives and other plants of the onion (Allium) family can be a deterrent to slugs and snails.
How to grow peppers
For best cropping, grow sweet peppers and chilli peppers under cover in greenhouses or similar, as they like it warm and sunny.
Grow in a good multi-purpose compost and feed weekly with tomato feeds, seaweed extract or homemade comfrey mix once flowers appear.
Peppers need very little care, despite needing a long growing period before they are ready for harvesting.
Sweet peppers like a humid atmosphere. Keep well watered and also consider watering the ground around them on warm, sunny days. If you get a heavy crop be prepared to add support canes to prevent the plant from collapsing!
To get hotter chilli peppers you can try stressing the plant. Methods can include allowing the soil to temporarily dry out, or to stop feeding. Bear in mind this is likely to reduce the overall harvest.
How to grow herbs
Herbs prefer to grow in a light, free-draining soil, and are well suited to growing in large tubs, containers or raised beds. The mints are fast-growing plants and are best grown in tubs on their own as they can quickly overwhelm daintier neighbours.
For best flavour, grow in full sun and pick young leaves in the early morning. Most herbs will benefit from a liquid feed once or twice during the growing season. Bear in mind that after a few years many herbs will become woody and are best replaced.
They can be invaluable for companion planting with grow-your-own plants, as many can deter aphids and other problematic bugs, while others attract beneficial insects and pollinators.
Herbs are, of course, very useful for cooking, and they are also very pretty in the garden. With such a variety of leaf shapes, shades and textures, not to mention the flowers and the aromas, they can create a wonderful display in borders or containers.
How to grow leafy greens: salads and brassicas
Lettuces and salad leaves are a great place to start if you are new to Grow-Your-Own as they are relatively fuss-free and give quick results.
Grow in fertile well-drained soil: improve with composts and manures if necessary. Water regularly and don’t allow the soil to dry out. Mulches such as bark chippings can help keep moisture in.
Although the salads need sunshine, they can struggle in strong midday sun which can also cause the soil to dry out. You can counter this by planting in the moderate shade of taller growing edibles such as runner beans, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Plants of the Allium family such as chives and garlic can deter pests, as can chervil. Harvest leaves early in the day when they are still plump with the morning dew!
Brassicas - such as cabbages, cauliflowers and brussels sprouts - need similar growing conditions, although they take longer to grow.
You can try using old CDs and children’s whirly windmills to keep problematic birds away.