Good Food Blog
Growing vegetablesPosted at 12:05PM, 11 March 2008 by Mary Cadogan - Food writer
I see the Jamie effect has spread to growing your own potatoes. Sales of Pentland Javelin seed potatoes have gone through the roof in garden centres since he showed us how to grow them in bags of compost. No need for even the smallest garden, a corner of a sunny patio or balcony will do fine.
My love affair with veggie horticulture started many years ago when I grew runner beans up a fence as a screen for my topless sunbathing and I've been tinkering about in the garden ever since.
Last year it got serious after watching Carol Klein's excellent series Grow Your Own Veg and I put my husband Mick to work knocking up raised beds for my salads, tomatoes, green beans, radishes, strawberries and all.
If you only have a small space, my tip is to use seed tapes - simply plant out the seed impregnated strips and off you go, no thinning out to do, less waste, and less work for results-driven gardeners like me. I also buy young plants rather than seeds of veggies such as courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers as you only need a few and if you grow seeds for just a small space you are left trying to find homes for all the plantlets you can't fit in. Salad leaves are just brilliant for the beginner as they grow quickly, especially rocket, mizuna and the salad mixes such as mesclun which you cut while young and they grow back again several times over the summer.
This year I have an extra challenge on my hands. I mentioned to my good friends Claudine and Marcel that I would love more space to grow veg and before I could protest Marcel had rotivated a big strip of land in his walled garden and handed me the key to the gate. So what can I grow that takes up loads of space? Well of course we're back to potatoes (I've gone for the deliciously waxy La Ratte, Roseval and purple-fleshed La Violette just for a bit of fun) and of course there are always melons, broad beans, onions, garlic, and raspberries which I reckon will take up about half the space I have. I feel duty bound to fill the whole patch to avoid appearing ungrateful so any suggestions would be much appreciated!