Top seasonal tips from South London Master Gardener Coordinator, Fiona Law.
Use winter to plot, plan and develop your growing. There’s a whole lot of joy to be had looking at seed catalogues online, or getting them in the post and perusing in bed, curled up on the sofa, on the commute. However, selecting can be mind boggling, given the wonderfully wide range of varieties plant breeders have come up with over the years. Here are some top tips for refining your order to a manageable quota:
What do we want to eat? No point in getting brussels sprouts if no one in the family likes them. But maybe you saw a tv chef use radicchio or cavolo nero, for instance.
Can I get it at the supermarket? yes, then maybe go for a different variety – yellow courgette ‘One Ball’, for example. Or something completely different, like exotic achocha (though tender, really easy to grow mini spiky cucumber type thing with a bit of a taste of green pepper). Achocha attract hover flies so would be a great climbing anti-greenfly addition to a veg patch.
How long from sowing to harvest? Broccoli, takes up 9 months in the plot so choose another green leafy veg with a quicker turn over. Will you need to clear your windowsill in February to get started with that particular tomato?
Is it visually lovely too? Purple-podded peas, runner bean ‘St George’, acorn squash, ‘Bull’s Blood’ beetroot with purple, edible leaves…
Can I share? Get together with colleagues, neighbours, family, gardening club or allotment fellows to swap varieties.
We recommend the Organic Gardening catalogue (Master Gardeners as Garden Organic members get 10% discount), with lots of reliable and interesting varieties (organic of course) and joining the Heritage Seed Library. You have to become a member but then seeds, which have been saved by experienced members, are free.
Also, click here for a link to Garden Organic’s What to do now page