At the start of lockdown a friend told me she was going to start growing her own vegetables and herbs in a corner of her garden.  What a good idea I thought. Up until this point I’d never had much time to even think about doing anything like this.  My days were always busy with commuting, work & commuting back and running around after the family.  Weekends were just as busy but now is different.  Not sure I’m going to be saving much money here but I can live life a little and keep myself occupied during lockdown, especially with the good weather we’ve been having and will we get to enjoy some really fresh produce as and when it’s ready

There’s a huge variety of fruit and vegetable plants you can sow in April/May that will grow fairly quickly, some within a matter of weeks, ready for you to harvest and enjoy.  From carrots to raspberries, here are just a few I’m going to try.

1. Radishes

Radishes are easy to grow in containers or sow them directly into the ground throughout the summer for a succession of crunchy, colourful crops. I’m going to be planting mine in containers as I have a very small garden of which the majority of it is paved. I think containers and raised beds will not only look better in my garden but will also work better for me as I can get planted quicker and be up and running in no time without all that digging! I should be able to start harvesting these at the beginning of June.

2. Spring Onions

Spring onions can be grown in pots or sown in the ground and if you let them floor they will self-seed. Harvest after 8 weeks.  If you plant your spring onions next to some mint, it will help to deter onion fly.

3. Mint

Once established mint requires little care but it is important to keep it contained to control its vigorous growth. I’m planting mine in a plant pot which I will then plant in the raised bed with other herbs. I would do the same even if planting in the ground. Harvest mint leaves before the flowers develop and use them fresh, dried or frozen.  I’m using mine in my mojitos!

4. Tomatoes

I left it until last week to plant my tomatoes, they say plant between February and April and I got them planted in time but only just.  I’ve planted mine in grow bags.  Tomato plants grow super fast so if you have young children get them helping you grow these as they’ll see the results quickly.  They just need plant food and water to give a tasty, juicy crop.

5. Microgreens

Microgreens are plants grown from seed to be harvested and eaten quickly as seedlings (ie. before they turn into larger plants of whatever plant you are growing).  They can be grown on a window sill in the house, in small containers, or in the ground and can be ready to harvest in as little as a week.

Seeds to try include coriander, pea shoots, fava bean shoots, mizuna, mibuna, rose radish, radish and sunflower. If you soak the seeds for 24 hours before sowing, this can speed up germination.

The compost needs to be damp before sowing and it is best to cover the container with transparent plastic to help retain the moisture until the seeds start to germinate. Water the compost frequently and in 2-4 weeks you should be harvesting your microgreens.

6. Strawberries

It’s getting a bit late for strawberry planting as they needed to be in around mid April but I’m going to give them a go anyway.  Strawberries can be planted directly into the soil but the should do just as well in containers or hanging baskets.

Plant them with manure where possible, as they are hungry plants and water frequently while they become established.  I asked a horsey friend of mine if she could leave me a carrier bag of manure next to her farm gate and I picked it up on one of my daily exercise walks last week.

Strawberry plants will need a liquid potash feed, such as a tomato fertiliser, every 7-14 days during the growing season and netting may be needed to stop the birds nibbling on the juicy fruits. 

I need to find some straw next, maybe my horsey friend has some, I’ll have to ask.  Advice is when fruits do start to develop it’s best to put straw underneath and around the plants to lift up the fruits, keep them clean and prevent them from rotting into the soil.

7. Raspberries

I’ve got to be honest I forgot about my raspberry plants as they were at my friends house.  She bought me some plants when she bought hers.  They needed to be planted early April but like the strawberries I’ve planted them and hopefully they’ll flower and fruit.

8. Lettuce

Lettuce is a fast growing crop which does well in the ground, in pots or even in window boxes.  Types such as ‘Lollo Rossa’ are said to be perfect for planting now as you’ll be able to pick the outer leaves while it keeps growing from the top.  It grows best in the sun and will need frequent watering.

9. Courgettes

I’m not a big fan of courgettes, they’re ok in small doses!  I’m only going to plant one plant and hopefully I won’t be overwhelmed by lots of fruit.  A large pot or container will be needed for each plant you have and they will need plenty of water.  They loved the sun so make your soil, pot or container is in full sun.  They will need a weekly feed during the summer.

10. Peas

Ah the taste of freshly picked peas from the pod. Remember doing that as a kid? Pease are a trouble free crop that enjoy cooler weather.  All they need is a  bit of support for their stems.  Sow them directly into the ground from March to June and look forward to the incredible sweet flavour of fresh picked peas from June to August.  And remember to keep picking the ripe pods, as the more that you pick them the more they produce!