Over the past few months, we’ve been covering different ways to help make the lockdown easier. These include doing your own sprouting to picking out the longest keeping vegetables for storage. In our last request, we asked you what you were growing at home and we were overwhelmed by your responses.
Top 10 Fruit and Vegetables
Here are the top ten most popular fruit and vegetables being grown by you this summer. The top crop was tomatoes, which almost half of you are growing, with salad veg, herbs and the humble potato proving popular.
Recipes of the month: June
Some produce will be ready in the coming week or two. So we’ve picked out a selection of recipes from our collection for you to enjoy making at home.
Lettuce – ready to cut as soon as the heart is firm, so will give a harvest for delicious sweet salad from now onwards.
Beetroot – home-grown beetroot, sweet and tender, can be pulled from the ground between mid-June right through the summer.
Potatoes – depending on the variety, the earliest potatoes can be lifted this month.
Basil – coming into full leaf now, it’s the perfect time to pick this delicious versatile herb.
If you would like to have a go at growing something in the garden, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of things that can be sown now to harvest later in the year.
Here are a few ideas sent in from you:
Radishes – Can be sown every couple of weeks to crop through the summer.
French and runner beans – It’s too late for broad beans now, but there’s still time to plant the French and runner varieties until mid-June. They will be ready to harvest from August onwards.
Spring onions – You can sow these now until the end of August, with crops available after around eight weeks of growth.
Courgette and squash –As the soil has thoroughly warmed up, these can now be sown direct into the soil in a sunny spot.
Pak choi – Oriental greens can be planted now and are fast growing, use young in stir-fries.
Kale – Can be sown in trays and picked young for salad or potted on for planting out.
Swiss chard – There’s still time to sow this versatile and beautiful leaf vegetable. Look out for seeds of the multi-coloured rainbow chard for extra visual appeal.
Cabbages – Some varieties can be planted now so you will have a harvest to look forward to later in the year.
Endive and chicory – Sow now before the peak of summer. Something to try if you enjoy a slightly bitter salad leaf.
Spinach. Winter varieties can be grown if the climate in your areas is mild enough.
Turnip and Swede – Now is the time to sow these so you will be able to start cropping before the end of the year.
Soft fruits – These are usually sold as canes which are planted between autumn and spring to establish for the coming year. These are a good investment as after time you will get good harvests of fruit from these.
Easy things to grow at home
If you don’t have a garden, but have a windowsill or balcony, there are still plenty of other options you can consider.
One of the easiest things to grow at home are herbs. Your windowsill is perfect to grow the more tender herbs such as basil, tarragon, coriander or parsley. They’ll also be safe from the hungry slugs!
Outside on a balcony or doorstep you can grow more hardy plants in containers such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and sage. Bay trees make a pretty addition to your garden area too. Most of these can be bought from any supermarket, but varieties from garden centres tend to be sturdier. Sweet peppers and aubergine plants are attractive larger plants and can occupy a sheltered sunny balcony corner if you have the space.
Salad is also another good choice. Often you can buy a lettuce and not get round to eating it all before it’s past its best, especially if it is pre-cut. Try and buy a growing lettuce for your windowsill instead and sparingly use the leaves as needed. If you re-pot the plants and keep picking leaves they will keep you going for a while and work out far cheaper in the long run.
A lemon tree is a good choice if you’ve got a bit of space in a cool light spot indoors. Chillies can also be grown successfully indoors and will give you more than you need for a season.
Some more unusual things
While everybody will be familiar with our top ten, there are a couple of things you might not have thought of or considered before, that some of you are having a go at.
Make your own tea –Herbs like camomile, mint and lemon balm can all be grown at home on the windowsill our outdoors and make a delicious brew. Lemon balm and mint are particularly easy to grow and will come back year after year.
Edible flowers – You may not know that some flowers are edible. You can add calendula, pansies, nasturtiums or chive flowers to salads to name but a few. These are tasty, but can make a salad look extra special as well.
Go exotic – You can grow exotic plants like kaffir lime plants on your windowsill – we even have one growing at the Vegetarian Society for a year-round supply of fragrant leaves for our Thai curries at our cookery school. You can even grow lemongrass or ginger at home too.
Find something new – You can still buy seeds online and now is a good time to may branch out into new things you’ve never tried before. Once you start looking through a seed bank you can discover all sorts of fantastic new vegetable plants. Have a go at growing asparagus peas or cucamelon (which look like a pretty cross between a gherkin and a melon!) These are two fantastic new ideas from you that we’d not heard of people trying before.
Less common herbs – It was good to see some of you are growing some of the “forgotten” herbs. These are herbs that are great to use, but aren’t usually commonly available in shops ready to use as a food product. These include fenugreek, caraway, lovage, stevia and good-king-henry to mention a few.
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