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Growing

veg, fruit and herbs


made easy
Welcome Contents
Whether youre new to growing your own vegetables, 04 Getting started 15 Strawberries
fruit and herbs, have some experience or just want to
find out more, we hope you find this guide useful. 06 
Salad leaves 16 Blueberries
Growing your own has loads of benefits it saves you
money, involves no food miles, reconnects you to the 07 
Peas and beans 17 Pears
seasons and means you can eat organically. And, of
course, its incredibly satisfying. Its no surprise that 08 
Courgettes 18 Plums
these days, veg seeds easily outsell flowers.
In this guide, weve picked some of the easiest and 09 Beetroot 19 Basil
most popular vegetables, fruit and herbs to grow
many of them suitable for containers. Over the years, 10 Potatoes 20 Coriander
our experts have tested everything from growing
potatoes in pots to finding the tastiest strawberries, 11 Pumpkins 21 Rosemary and mint
and, because this guide is from Which?, its full of
clear, no-nonsense advice. Happy growing! 12 
Onions and garlic 22 Caring for your crops

13 Tomatoes 23 Maintenance tips

Ceri Thomas 14 Rhubarb


Editor, Which? Gardening

Which? Ltd 2015 This guide has been produced for general information and
interest only. Which? makes every effort to ensure that the information in the
guide is correct, but we cannot guarantee that it is 100% free of inaccuracies,
errors and omissions. The guide may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, transmitted in any form or otherwise made available to third parties
without the written permission of Richard Headland, Head of Which? Magazine.
Commercial use of the guide is not permitted.

2 which.co.uk
Getting started Prepare your soil
If youre starting a new plot or making raised
beds, youll need to prepare the ground
thoroughly. Digging breaks up compacted soil,
? Tip
Dont fancy growing your
improving drainage and aeration. At the same
crops from seed? Look out for
time as digging, you can remove perennial
small vegetable plants at the
weed roots and dig in some bulky organic
garden centre that you can
matter (such as garden compost or well-rotted
plant straight away.
farmyard manure).
this contains potash to encourage flowers (and
Get your soil tested therefore fruits).
Vegetables grow fast compared with other
plants. Garden soil contains most of the Mulch
nutrients they need, but if in doubt, its worth Spreading organic matter on the surface of the
getting your soil tested. This will tell you if any soil (in a layer at least 5cm thick) in early spring
nutrients are in short supply and determine (March) will prevent weed seeds germinating
its pH, which can affect the ability of plants to and will help retain moisture, too. In time,
absorb nutrients. earthworms will drag it down into the soil, so
you dont need to dig it in.
Feed plants in pots
Crops in pots will definitely need regular Create beds
feeding. Vigorous, leafy crops such as lettuces If you divide your plot into beds or make
will need a balanced liquid fertiliser that raised beds, the soil is less likely to become
contains equal proportions of nitrogen, compacted and you wont need to dig. Light
phosphate and potash. Fruiting crops, for cultivation, such as hoeing and raking, is all
example tomatoes, will need a liquid feed; youll need to do.

All you need to get growing is some soil, some seeds (or young
plants), a sunny spot and a plan of action Growing plants in pots
So, youve decided that youd like to grow Decide what to grow Grow one type of vegetable Use a multi-purpose
some veg, soft fruit and herbs. Congratulations! Our advice is to grow the produce you enjoy per container unless youre compost or the contents of a
The first thing to do is to decide where to eating. Consider some expensive seasonal growing herbs. Different types growing bag (tip the contents
grow your crops. If you want to grow a serious treats, such as new potatoes and strawberries. grow at different rates. into a container for ease).
amount, a veg plot is the best option. But if you Alternatively, focus on produce thats easier For herbs, use pots of at least Water your pots frequently
havent got room, most of the plants in this to produce all the vegetables, fruit and herbs 2 litres. Use 10-litre pots or in summer when the weather
guide can be grown in raised beds or mixed in mentioned in this guide are popular and easy bigger for vegetables. warms up.
with flower borders. to grow. Ensure the bottom of the pot After about four weeks, feed
Alternatively, you can grow veg, smaller soft Research each crop and see how much has drainage holes. Cover the your leafy crops with a liquid
fruit and herbs in pots on the patio. space it needs. Some crops, such as base of the container with a fertiliser; fruiting crops, such
Wherever you decide to grow your produce, courgettes, can take up a lot of room so layer of broken polystyrene or as tomatoes, will need a
a sunny spot is essential only a few crops will may not be suitable if youve got a small plot. gravel to aid drainage. high-potash feed.
grow in a shaded position. Other crops, like tomatoes, grow well in pots.

4 which.co.uk which.co.uk 5
Salad leaves Peas and beans
Lettuces and rocket can be ready in as little as a month It doesnt take many seeds to produce bumper crops
keep sowing them for a constant supply
Lettuces will grow pretty much anywhere as long Rocket
as you water them frequently. Theyre ideal for Wild rocket has a peppery taste and is
pots and window boxes. Home-grown lettuces slow-growing, with small, frilly leaves.
taste great and theres a huge range to choose Cultivated (or salad) rocket is fast-growing,
from. We recommend: Little Gem, a small cos, with larger leaves. It has a spicy flavour and
Lettony, a green loose-leaved type, and is milder than wild rocket. You can pick it over
Mazurosso, a red loose-leaved variety. a period of time, so you dont have to worry
about eating it quickly before it goes soggy
in the bag.

Varieties Fresh peas and beans are a real treat, pea netting strung between posts in place
We recommend Skyrocket a sweet, spicy especially mangetout (with flat pods) and before seedlings appear.
salad rocket with soft, rounded leaves, and broad beans eaten whole in the pod ( just as Broad beans: start the seeds off in pots or
Voyager a hot and spicy wild rocket. you would do with mangetout). Runner beans modules in October or November (for an earlier
are the quintessential British garden crop and crop) or February and transplant them into
How to grow are regarded as a novelty by the rest of the the ground after 3 weeks. Use posts and string
Its best to grow rocket in pots containing world. Pea and bean seeds are big, so theyre to keep them upright.
multi-purpose compost. In our trial, pots 25cm easy to sow. Runner and French beans: put 2.4m-tall
How to grow wide produced at least 150g of rocket. garden canes in place before sowing make a
Lettuce seedlings are vulnerable to soil rot and Sow one seed every 2cm or so, cover with Varieties teepee with a base of about 60cm in diameter.
pests such as slugs, snails and rabbits. Start the a dusting of compost and keep well watered. Peas: we recommend Ambassador for shelling Sow seeds in May or June, 15cm apart, giving
seeds off in small pots or seed trays. Plant into Snip off the leaves when theyre 7cm long. After peas, Carouby de Maussane and Oregon each plant a cane to climb up.
their final position when theyre 5cm tall. 46 weeks, you should get a second harvest. Sugar Pod for mangetout, and Delikett for
Treat the soil with the biological control Watch out for flea beetle as the weather warms sugar snap peas. Broad beans: we recommend
Nemaslug (see page 22) before you plant, or up from late June. Cover plants with mesh to De Monica and Karmazyn. If you want to try
apply organic slug pellets sparingly.
Sow small numbers fortnightly from April to
prevent damage (see page 22). eating the whole pod, go for Listra or Optica.
Runner and French beans: we recommend ? Tip
July so you have a succession of mature plants Firestorm, White Lady and Moonlight for Broad beans are a
for eating. In high summer, lettuce seeds may runner beans. Cobra and Fasold are good for magnet for blackfly, which can
not germinate if the temperature is over 20C,
so sow them in late afternoon when its cooler. ? Tip
climbing French beans. stunt growth if present in large
numbers. They can also spread
viruses. Try pinching out any
Watch out for aphids. The best way to keep It is possible to grow How to grow
lettuce clean without using insecticide is to delicious salad throughout the Peas: sow outdoors from February (under a growing tips that have colonies
cover with fine mesh, such as Enviromesh winter. Mizuna, mustard Red cloche or mesh) to May and again in July for an of blackfly on them to prevent
Ultra Fine, when you sow or plant out. In high Frills and pak choi China Choi autumn crop. Make a 2cm-deep trough about them spreading. Alternatively,
summer, pick leaves as soon as theyre ready, are just some of the salad leaves 10cm wide and scatter the seeds roughly squash the blackfly by hand
otherwise theyll bolt (produce flowers) and that grew well in our trial. 5cm apart. Cover with soil and keep moist. (wear gloves for this!).
the leaves will become tough. If supports are needed, put twigs or plastic

6 which.co.uk which.co.uk 7
Courgettes Beetroot
Two plants will keep a family in courgettes all summer! Just sow the seeds; this veg hardly even needs watering
Beetroot is ideal for a small garden as it doesnt country. You can carry on sowing up until July.
take up much space, and is perfect for growing Sow the large, corky seeds (actually clumps
in containers and pots. You can use both of 46 seeds) 5cm apart, in rows 30cm apart.
the leaves and the actual vegetable. Young Cover with soil and water well.
beetroot leaves can be used in salads and the Several seedlings will emerge from each
older leaves can be cooked like spinach. You seed, but dont worry about thinning them out
can harvest beetroot when its golf ball sized as theyll grow and push apart.
or leave it in the ground until you need it. The roots grow partly above the soil, so its
easy to see when they have reached baby
Varieties beet (golf ball) size.
We recommend Boltardy, Pablo and Kestrel.
Or theres the old Italian variety Chioggia, with

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pink and white internal rings.
Tip
How to grow Dont overwater beetroot
Sow beetroot as early as February under as it will produce more leaves
Courgettes are easy to grow. Theyre a prolific cloches and outside in March in mild areas, but than roots.
crop each plant should produce up to 30 its best to wait until April in most parts of the
fruits from late June to early September. Just
two plants will produce plenty of delicious
courgettes all summer long.
They need plenty of room, but weve also
had success growing them in 20-litre pots. If
you dont pick courgettes frequently in summer,
theyll turn into marrows in the blink of an eye!

Varieties Keep the soil around plants moist, especially


We recommend Defender, Tuscany and in hot weather.
Atena (a yellow variety). Pick your courgettes when they reach
15cm long.
How to grow
Sow seeds in 8cm pots indoors at the end of

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April. Plant outside at the end of May/early June.
Acclimatise seedlings to the outdoors before Tip
planting (bring them indoors overnight at first). If you only want a few
Dig a hole 30cm deep and wide, and mix in plants, buy them from a garden
a generous amount of garden compost as
you refill it. Give each plant an area of at least
centre instead of growing them
from seed.
Use young beetroot leaves in salads,
75cm in diameter. and cook older leaves like spinach
8 which.co.uk which.co.uk 9
Potatoes Pumpkins
Grow your own spuds for the best flavour Kids will love growing and carving these for Halloween
Potatoes really are easy to grow you simply How to grow
plant one tuber and a couple of months later, Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes,
you dig up lots of them! which are tubers produced under disease-free
Blight disease can strike in warm, damp conditions. They are in garden centres from
summers if its a problem in your area, grow January. Chit the tubers (make them produce
first early varieties, which should be out of the sprouts) in a cool, light place before planting.
ground by the time it strikes. Or grow resistant Plant early varieties in early April and
varieties such as Sarpo Mira. maincrops in late April. Plant the seed tubers
There are three types of potato so why 40cm apart and 15cm deep, using a trowel, in
not grow a crop of each? First earlies start to rows that are 50cm apart (for earlies) and 75cm
produce tubers in June, just when Jersey apart (for maincrops).
Royals command a premium in the shops. Earthing up (drawing earth from either side into
Second earlies follow on for harvesting as you a low ridge), helps to protect young shoots and
need them throughout July and August. They increase the yield. Do this weekly until you have
include the waxy salad varieties that are good a rounded ridge about 30cm high and wide.
boiled and served hot or cold. Maincrops are
usually left until early autumn and dug up in If you have kids who love Halloween, a pumpkin

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one go to store through the winter. or two is essential. They grow fast and trail along
Tip the ground, and youll need to give them plenty
Varieties To store maincrop of room at least 1.5m each.
First earlies: Casablanca and Lady Christl are potatoes, dig them up in
both reliable and tasty. Second earlies: as a October. Cut the foliage off a Varieties
waxy salad potato, Charlotte still takes some fortnight before harvesting. Mars is a baby pumpkin that produces bright
beating. Also try Anya, a cross between Early varieties are best eaten orange fruits suitable for carving. Racer is
Desiree and Pink Fir Apple. Maincrops: for fresh, as they wont store another bright orange variety with a seed
taste and the best roast potatoes, try Cara, for long. cavity deep enough for a large candle.
Apache or Desiree.
How to grow
In April, sow the seeds indoors in pots, as for
courgettes (see page 8). The seeds are large,
the seedlings huge.
Plant them out once theres no risk of frost. should increase the number and size of
Protect the young plants from cold nights and the fruits.
wind using fleece until well established. Leave fruits to ripen fully in the sun. Before
Space plants 1m apart each way, marked the autumn frosts, lift them, taking care not to
with a cane. They can spread in all directions. damage the stalk. Stand the fruits during the
You shouldnt need to water them except in day in a sunny, sheltered spot or in the
very dry summers, when a couple of good greenhouse, to finish ripening the skins.
soakings around the original planting position Then store in a cool, dry place.

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Onions and garlic Tomatoes ? Tip
As cordon plants grow,
Add a home-grown zing to cooking Tomatoes straight off the plant pinch out any shoots that

Onions are a real late-summer treat appear where the leaves join
the main shoot. Pinch out the
You can grow onions from seed in February, Tomatoes are easy to grow from seed but,
growing tip in late July to stop
but the simplest way is to grow them from unless you want lots of the same variety, its
it growing upwards and to
sets (partially grown onions). even easier to buy young plants from the
encourage the fruits that have
garden centre in early June.
already formed to ripen.
Shallots
Unlike onions, every shallot set you plant How to grow
divides into a clump of up to 12 similar-sized If growing them from seed, start tomatoes thorough soaking once or twice a week
shallots. Magic! Theyre more expensive to off at a temperature of 20C in a heated in dry spells. Apply a liquid tomato fertiliser
buy but have a sweeter taste. We like Topper. propagator or a well-lit place indoors during every week or so for the developing fruits.
March or April. Sow several tomato seeds in
How to grow a 7cm pot. Training and care
Plant sets straight into the soil in March When the seedlings are large enough, tease The easiest option is to go for bush varieties,
or April. them apart. Pot them into individual 7cm pots. which dont need training. A dwarf bush variety
Push the sets in gently so the tips are just Keep them somewhere reasonably warm is best. Cordon varieties keep growing
covered. Protect with fleece if birds start to pull (about 15C). As the roots start to fill the pots, through the summer and are best limited to
them out. Space rows 1530cm apart and move them into bigger ones. one shoot tied to a support.
plants 5cm apart. Plant them outside in early June straight into Space plants 45cm apart and provide
Only water onions if the weather is Use a trowel to ease them into the soil (dont the soil, in growbags or in 10-litre pots in each with a stout stake at least 1.5m tall.
exceptionally dry. push them) and make sure the tops are buried a sheltered spot outdoors. Spiral plant supports are an easier alternative
Let the tops dry and fall over naturally. In so birds dont pull them out. Water plants regularly by giving the soil a which support the plant without any tying.
August, when skins are firm and papery, lift the Harvest and store in July. Or you can erect a frame (like a short runner
bulbs gently with a fork and lay them on the soil bean frame).
to bake in the sun. In wet weather, ripen them Onion and garlic varieties
in a sunny spot under cover. We recommend Solent Wight for garlic. If youre Varieties
Store in a cool, dry place; plait into strings and growing onions, Red Baron is a good red Red Alert is a dwarf bush that gives an early
hang, or place single layers in wooden trays. variety. Autumn Gold, Centurion and Turbo crop. For cherry tomatoes, Gardeners Delight
produce solid brown onions that store well. is an old favourite train it as a cordon. For
Garlic larger fruits, try Matina or Sacher.
This is remarkably easy to grow from individual
Avoid blight
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cloves. Dont use supermarket garlic buy it
from a garden centre. Tomatoes, like potatoes, are susceptible to
Tip blight, which can rot the tomatoes as they
The flower shoots or
How to grow grow on the plant. If blight is a problem in your
scapes of some garlic varieties
Plant in the soil in November if you live in the area, go for an early bush variety such as Red
are regarded as a gourmet treat
south and have free-draining soil; otherwise, in some cuisines. Cut them when Alert, or try Losetto. Keep the foliage dry at all
wait until January or February. young and tender, and use them in times (growing plants in a greenhouse will help
Split the bulbs into individual cloves just any recipe that requires garlic. with this) and give the plants plenty of space
before planting. Space them about 15cm apart. to help reduce humidity among the foliage.

12 which.co.uk which.co.uk 13
Rhubarb
Varieties
We recommend Valentine for good taste and
looks, and The Sutton for its sweet flavour.
Strawberries
Sweet, succulent stems that Livingstone is a good autumn cropper and Red juicy fruits that can continue to crop all summer
Timperley Early is the best for forcing.
grow super-fast in spring How to grow
How to grow Plant in well-drained soil in sun, 30cm apart,
The best time to plant rhubarb crowns is in rows 6070cm apart and with the growing
in November to December when they are tip (crown) just above soil level. Water well until
dormant, but you can wait until spring. plants are established, then water during dry
Rhubarb does best in a sunny spot with rich, summer weather, aiming to wet the soil only.
moist soil that doesnt get waterlogged. Give Remove runners in the first year to
it at least 1m to spread and dig in plenty of encourage plants to establish. Protect fruits
manure or compost. Dont pick in the first year from slugs and birds; use straw or mats to
after planting. Mulch in the autumn. keep fruits off the soil.
Get an even earlier crop by covering the Feed with Growmore or Vitax Q4 as per the
clump with a terracotta forcing pot or a plastic instructions in spring, and liquid feed with
dustbin in January. The rhubarb crowns need tomato food (or similar) occasionally during
a cold period followed by a frost-free period in summer. Take care not to overfeed, as it
the dark to produce a good flush of pale, reduces crops. Remove dead leaves from
succulent stalks. everbearers and summer fruiting varieties at
Harvest your rhubarb from April onwards. the end of the season.
Pull the stalks rather than cut them. Make sure Verticillium wilt is a soil-borne fungus that
you leave three or four strong stems and keep Most conventional strawberry plants are makes leaves wilt, turn brown and die. Theres
pulling the young tender ones. Stop picking propagated from runners and sold as bare- no cure, so remove affected plants and dont
in late June. rooted plants. But to grow lots of small-fruited replant strawberries in the same area.
wild or alpine strawberries, the best method is To grow plants from seed, scatter thinly over
to grow them from seed. They make good seedling compost in a tray between December
Rhubarb is unique in that its a vegetable (a leaf container or hanging-basket plants and will and March. Cover lightly with more compost
stalk) thats most often used in desserts you
can even dip the stalks in sugar and eat them ? Tip
grow happily as ground cover in a slightly
shady part of the garden.
and keep the surface moist. Transplant
seedlings individually into small pots. Once
raw. Its also a herbaceous perennial, dying Propagate large clumps they are small rosettes, plant in the ground in
down in autumn only to bounce back with by chopping off younger pieces Varieties a sunny, well-drained spot.
incredible vigour in the spring. And it can be from the outside with a spade. For summer varieties: for the best strawberries
forced to produce sweeter and more succulent Pieces with a couple of healthy throughout the summer, grow Darlisette for an
sticks. For the best flavour, its worth investing buds should produce a vigorous early crop, Elsanta and Sonata for
in a named variety of rhubarb, as it will give you
years of eating.
new clump in no time. midsummer and Malwina for a late July crop.
For plants grown from seed: Florian (F1) is the ? Tip
best large-fruited variety and Baron Grey mould (botrytis)
Solemacher is the best alpine strawberry.
From April onwards, pull the stalks Everbearers: we recommend Finesse for the
infection often only becomes
visible when the fruits ripen, so
rather than cut them. Discard the biggest crop in June and September. Albion is
good for pots and Malling Opal is a later fruit,
keep rain off the flowers
if possible.
leaves, as they are poisonous yielding through to September.

14 which.co.uk which.co.uk 15
Blueberries Pears
A popular superfood perfect for growing in a pot When ripe and dripping with juice, pears are such a treat
Blueberries are available all year round in once the roots fill the pot and then only into a
the supermarket. Theyre pricey, though, and slightly larger container, adding fresh ericaceous
shipped in from far-flung places, so theres lots compost around the edges.
of satisfaction to be had from growing your own. Feed with an ericaceous fertiliser and water
They need an acid soil, but anyone can grow with rainwater. Keep the compost moist, but
them in a patio container using ericaceous not waterlogged.
compost. They are long-lived plants, so a couple The main pest is the blackbird and other
of years invested in growing the right variety will fruit-eating birds. Be fastidious in covering your
pay dividends for years to come. There are lots plants with netting to defeat them.
of varieties available and most garden centres To prune in the first couple of years, shorten
stock a good selection; theyre readily available any wayward shoots and aim for a neat, open-
online, too. centred bush. Thereafter, prune a third of the
oldest branches to their base in late winter to give
Varieties a balance of one-, two- and three-year-old wood.
We recommend Chandler and Toro for the
biggest yield, Ozark Blue as the next most Pears are attractive trees, especially when unwrapped. Varieties picked before mid-
efficient cropper and Spartan as the longest
cropper. If you need a compact plant, go for Nui. ? Tip
laden with blossom or fruit. They neednt take
up much room either, as theyre easy to train
September dont store well, but later varieties
may keep for at least a month in a fridge or
Blueberries are self- flat against a wall or fence. Think about buying cellar, as long as theyre picked under-ripe with
How to grow fertile, so you only need one one in October, because autumn and winter are the stalk intact. Conference may even keep
Most gardeners will find it easier to plant, although having more the best times to plant. until Christmas.
grow blueberries in a container filled with than one will improve the
ericaceous compost. amount of fruits that set. Varieties Go further
When you buy a plant in a small pot, only repot If youre looking for a pear thats good for Prune pears in the winter Which? members
cooking, we recommend Improved Fertility. can see our Training apples and pears
For tasty crops, choose from Louise Bonne factsheet for more information on how to prune
of Jersey and Williams Bon Chrtien. your pear tree at which.co.uk/gardening.

How to grow

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Pears need a sunny, sheltered spot and
struggle in dry or chalky soil. In the north Tip
especially, theyre most likely to crop well If you only have room
when trained against a south- or west-facing for one tree, make sure theres
wall or fence as a fan, cordon or espalier. a pear tree in a nearby garden
Avoid having a heavy crop, which results and opt for a different variety.
in poor-quality fruit and overladen branches, Even supposedly self-fertile
which are liable to break. As soon as the fruits pears crop best if pollinated by
set, thin them so theyre 1015cm apart. another variety.
Pears are best stored loose and left

16 which.co.uk which.co.uk 17
Plums Basil
For the ripest, juiciest fruits, we If you like Mediterranean cuisine, then basil is a must
say grow your own
Nothing conjures up warm Mediterranean How to grow
Unlike some fruit, plums dont ripen well once summers more than the taste and aroma of basil. You can start sowing basil towards the end of
off the tree, so shop-bought ones are unlikely It is an ideal companion for tomatoes, both on March in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
to ever be as sweet or juicy as those eaten your plate and in the garden (it will grow under Basil is very sensitive to cold and will blacken at
fresh when picked at their prime. Late summer tomato plants), and looks and smells great in a the slightest hint of frost, so make sure you keep
is a good time to find out what youre missing if patio pot. There are two main types, with either your early sowings protected from the cold.
theres a pick-your-own plum grower in your large soft leaves or small leaves on neat bushes. Once the young plants are about 15cm tall,
area or, better still, a plum festival. You could There are also purple-leafed types, which are remove the shoot tip to encourage more leafy
then buy a tree of your favourite variety in the especially attractive in patio displays. Now, growth and a bushier plant.
autumn or winter the best time to plant. breeders are starting to produce new varieties Pinch out flower buds regularly and pick young
with better colours and habits, while retaining shoots from the top of the plant to encourage
Varieties that characteristic aroma. side shoots. After picking your basil heavily, you
For the best-tasting plums, we recommend can give the plant a little liquid feed.
Burbanks Tangerine, Haganta and Avalon, Varieties In June, sow another batch of basil outside.
which is also early to ripen. Victoria is also We recommend Aristotle for a neat, small-leafed Move indoor plants outside to the patio.
worth considering as it is very reliable, even bush and Puck, with its large leaves, ideal for Make a final sowing in August to give you
though it is also disease-prone. tearing and scattering over a pizza or pasta dish. fresh basil for cooking into the autumn.

How to grow
Plums are grafted onto a rootstock, which
determines the vigour and ultimate size of the
tree and also how quickly it starts fruiting. damaged or badly placed growth. Cut out any
When planting, ensure the bump where twiggy leafless growth from the centre and any
the trunk joins the rootstock is just above vertical branches. Pull off any shoots that have
the soil surface. sprouted at the base.
Plums need little pruning once established
and should never be pruned in winter, as this is

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when theyre most vulnerable to infection by
bacterial canker and silver leaf disease (see Tip
our free factsheets at which.co.uk/gardening). Plums are easy to grow in
Paint all cuts as soon as theyre made with a sunny, sheltered spot, as long as
a wound paint. your soil isnt dry and chalky.
To renovate an old tree, remove dead,

If you are netting a tree to protect the


fruit from birds, ensure it is taut so they
are less likely to become entangled
18 which.co.uk which.co.uk 19
Coriander Rosemary and mint
A useful herb with a truly Home-grown herbs fresh from a patio pot
distinctive taste
stop it self-seeding. Feed with a liquid fertiliser.
If you use coriander a lot, it makes sense to Pick fresh mint leaves throughout the growing
grow your own. The good news is, its easy. season. Pick leaves before flowering and
If you grow coriander from the culinary seeds freeze them, either whole or chopped, in
sold in supermarkets, its likely to bolt (produce airtight containers.
flowers) before youve harvested much leaf.
Instead, named varieties, bred for leaf rather
than seed production, are a better bet. Bolting
can still be a problem with these, but several
claim better resistance to it. Some even have Rosemary
unusual feathery leaves. Rosemary is widely available as an established
plant in garden centres for planting in spring.
Varieties For more plants, take cuttings from young
We recommend Calypso, which is less likely shoots in spring or summer. The plant can
to bolt than other varieties. For the best taste, also be used as a low hedge. Rosemary and mint varieties
choose Lemon Coriander. Rosemary We recommend the common
How to grow rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), the hardiest
How to grow Rosemary is slightly tender and needs a form and most used in cooking. Miss Jessopps
Coriander doesnt like being moved, so its sunny, sheltered position in well-drained soil; Upright is a more vigorous and upright variety
best sown where you want it to grow, either in it does well in chalky soils. and makes a good focal point in a herb bed.
the ground or in large pots. Sow in late spring allow them to set seed. The seed is ripe when If growing it in a container, add some grit Mint Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is the familiar
or early summer. it stops smelling unpleasant. Collect it and use to the compost to aid drainage and dont mint with long, pointed leaves and a refreshing
Coriander is annoyingly quick to flower and in cooking, setting some aside to sow for overwater. After flowering in March, trim flavour. For food, teas and salads, choose
sets seed before it has produced much leaf, another crop. into shape and feed. Moroccan and Tashkent mints. Apple mint has
so its best to sow little and often. Watch out You can pick leaves from this evergreen all a mild mint flavour and apple-scented, woolly
for fine, feathery leaves a sure sign that the year round. Its a good idea to dry some leaves leaves. Pineapple mint has pretty, cream-

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plants are about to flower. at the end of summer if you want to use lots of streaked leaves and can also be used in cooking.
Well-drained soil in a sunny spot is essential. Tip rosemary over the winter, or add a sprig to olive
If youre growing it indoors on a windowsill, For a supply of coriander oil for salad dressings.

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give it plenty of light and dont overwater. during the autumn and winter,
Keep picking mature leaves as and when you sow seeds in pots in August and Mint Tip
need them. Regular cropping should keep on the windowsill. Mint grown from seed will rarely be the same
All mints are invasive
delay flowering. Once the plants do flower, as the parent plant, so the only way to get your
to some degree, spreading
favourite mint is to buy established plants
via underground stems. This
garden centres will have a good supply in spring.
For the best tasting plants, makes them ideal for growing
in containers. Divide every two
choose Lemon Coriander How to grow
Mint prefers moist soil and light sun to shade.
to three years in spring to keep
them vigorous.
Keep it well watered and remove the flowers to

20 which.co.uk which.co.uk 21
Caring for your crops Maintenance tips
Youve planted your crops now you need to look after them. Read
Watering excellent way of getting rid of annual weeds
our tips on watering, feeding and pest control Watering your crops is essential in hot weather. pick a dry, sunny day to do this. Perennial
If time or water is short, prioritise anything weeds need to be pulled or dug up (be sure to
The pleasure of growing your own vegetables, newly planted. You should also prioritise early pull up all of the roots, otherwise theyll regrow).
fruit and herbs can be short-lived if pests and potatoes, lettuce, radishes, beans and peas, You could add a mulch (a layer placed on
diseases get to your crops first. Take action soft fruit thats developing berries, beans that top of the soil) to keep weeds down. Mulches
ideally before they strike. Many pesticides and are developing pods, and tomatoes. include garden compost, well-rotted farmyard
fungicides are being withdrawn from the market, Also prioritise any crops that are growing in manure, composted green waste or woven
and often people prefer not to spray their crops, pots. Many crops, once established, dont need polypropylene. Mulches also have the added
but there are chemical-free ways of controlling much watering these include beetroot, garlic, benefit of keeping moisture locked in the soil.
pests and diseases. onions, pumpkins, rhubarb, pears and plums.
Healthy soil produces healthy plants more To get the best possible harvest from any soft Preserve your crops
able to withstand pest and disease attacks. All fruit, you need to ensure that the plant is Dont forget that any excess fruit crops can be
soils benefit from the addition of organic matter, supplied with adequate water at all times. stored. For most of us, freezing is the easiest
such as home-made garden compost or An erratic supply of moisture to your crops and quickest option. In the summer, cut the last
well-rotted manure. Organic matter improves the will not only be likely to reduce them, but will of the rhubarb into chunks and save the
structure of soils that are waterlogged, Pick off pests such as slugs, snails and also encourage the development of tougher misshapen strawberries for making coulis or
compacted or too free draining. It also feeds the caterpillars by hand. Make sure you squash skins. These tough skins may then, in turn, be jam later in the year.
hidden army of creatures and organisms that all any aphids. prone to splitting when water suddenly You can also open freeze blueberries (all this
contribute to the general health and fertility of Encourage insect predators such as ladybirds, becomes available again. means is spacing the fruits on a tray so that no
the soil. Recycle as much organic matter as you lacewings, hoverflies and birds. All this watering need not mean using more two fruits touch), and then scoop up the berries
can from your own garden and kitchen with a Try using biological controls (millions of tiny mains water. Fix a diverter to the downpipe into plastic bags and store them in the freezer
compost bin or heap. predators that attack specific pests). Weve had from your bath or shower for a good, regular until you are ready to use them.
Fine netting such as Enviromesh will protect success with Nemaslug, which is used to control supply. Replenish any mulches if necessary
your plants and crops from flying insects such slugs. See: nemasysinfo.com. (see page 4) at any stage during the warmer
as aphids. Drape it over hoops of stiff wire so summer months.
that crops have enough room to grow. Its
Weeding
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essential to do this as soon as you plant out
your crops, rather than wait until you spot a Tip Weeds compete with your veg for moisture and
pest, otherwise it will be too late! To stop slugs and snails nutrients, so you need to be constantly on top
Time sowings and plantings to miss vulnerable attacking veg in pots, spray the of them. Some weeds can also harbour pests
periods. For example, grow early potatoes to pot rim with WD-40. that then move on to your crops.
avoid blight. Tackling a large, neglected plot full of
perennial weeds is very hard work, so you
might want to use a weedkiller to get a head
start, even if you plan to grow vegetables
Encourage insect predators such organically.
as ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies Once the cultivated ground is more or less
weed-free, it can be kept that way without
and birds using any chemicals at all. Hoeing is an

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