The sun has started shining, the bare trees that have been dormant all winter are beginning to reveal their bright green leafy glory and suddenly the lawn needs mowing. This Spring, in particular, feels tentatively hopeful as we remember where we were this time last year and try to remember how it feels to think ahead rather than living day by day. This is what gardening is about, the slow and simple satisfaction of seeing nature unfold and looking ahead at what is to come.
What do I need?
In its simplest form, all you need are some containers (old recycled yoghurt pots are excellent, as are biodegradable containers that you can plant directly into the ground - see below), some soil and some seeds. You don’t need a garden as you can grow a lot of things from a sunny window sill or balcony. You can be as fancy as you like (chalk-labelled Mason jars anyone?) but ultimately the results will be the same regardless! You can find pretty much all seed varieties online and the selection is endless.
When and what to plant?
March, April and May is when you would plant the majority of crops for a summer harvest. There are some great resources such as the Royal Horticultural Society who can tell you what crops to sow and when to move plants outdoors month by month. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/in-month/april
This year, we are planting the following:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sweet peas
Even this modest selection will make you feel like a green-fingered god(ess). Over the past few years we’ve grown all sorts of varieties of tomatoes, with varying success rates. Cucumbers seem to always be a winner as you can grow them in a pot and prop them up with some cane very easily – with lots of water and minimal attention they seem to thrive. I love growing sweet peas as they can be picked all summer and smell wonderful in a little vase on the kitchen table. Finally, every year we grow giant sunflowers and name them to see which member of the family can grow the tallest one. After a fallow year in 2020, the stakes are high for this year’s “Sunflower Mega Extravaganza Competition” – hyperbolically named by a committee of under eights.
How do I plant them?
Start them all of indoors, planted in soil in your chosen pots in a bright spot and water daily. Once the shoots seem sturdy enough (we’re very technical as you can see) think about moving them to a bigger pot or planting outside directly in the ground if you want to. Make sure the last of the really cold weather is behind you.
Watch them grow and see what happens! In the past we’ve had basketfuls of tomatoes, sweetcorn that grew to great heights and yielded precisely zero corn cobs, strawberries galore and one year which we just refer to as The Year of Slugs. We remember all of it just as fondly and start again every year with a little bit more experience than the last.