With allotments as scarce as a cheerful storyline in Eastenders, why not use the space in your own back garden to grow your own? It’s easy to create a productive patio if you choose your fruit and veg carefully, and with your goodies so close to the kitchen you can be eating food fresh from the plant within minutes of picking it. Remember to check out the great planters and containers available from ACHICA to dress up your fruitful patio, and then try these simple planting ideas...
If you think beans are just for the allotment, think again. Most can be grown in large bags or pots of John Innes compost, and trained up tall bamboo cane supports. Or buy dwarf beans, such as ‘Hestia’, which make compact, bushy plants, ideal for containers. Thompson & Morgan, Suttons and DT Brown have extensive ranges.
Growing lettuce from seed in a large pot or windowbox couldn’t be easier. Choose loose-headed, cut-and-come-again varieties, and sprinkle the seeds over the surface of a mixture of seed- and multi-purpose compost (below). Cover the seeds with a little more compost. The seedlings will appear in about a week, if you keep the compost damp, and can be harvested after about 4-6 weeks, when the leaves are around 15cm (6in) high, by cutting the plants down to 2cm (1in) from the soil. The little stumps that are left will then re-sprout to give a second helping a few weeks later.
[Pic credit: Brian North]
Perfect for sunny patios, tomatoes, chillies and peppers all make beautiful patio plants and look as good as they taste. Browse for a great range of seeds and young plants, although it's best to buy plants if you have limited space and time. One great innovation is the ‘Twin Tomato’ plant from Suttons, which offers two delicious varieties – the sweet red cherry tom ‘Florryno’ (above) and orange ‘Orangino – grafted onto one plant. Just pop a plant into a large pot of John Innes compost, with a couple of long canes to support the stems, then water regularly and feed weekly with tomato fertilizer when the flowers appear.
You could also give aubergines a try if you have a warm, sheltered patio. This beauty from Thompson & Morgan is called ‘Pinstripe’ and will certainly smarten up your productive display. Before the fruits appear, the plant produces pretty purple flowers too. Plant and grow as for tomatoes.
Grow toms and aubergines alongside large pots of courgettes for all the ingredients of a tasty pasta sauce. Courgettes are very easy to grow from seed, and they’re pretty too. This variety from DT Brown is called ‘Genoa’, and produces beautiful golden flowers and bumper crops of striped fruits below large architectural leaves. Keep plants well watered to prevent mildew.
Strawberries are perfect for patio pots or large hanging baskets. Buy a range of early, mid- and late-season varieties for a long season of sweet fruits or opt for ‘ever-bearing’ types that fruit all summer. Plant your strawberries in pots of John Innes compost and keep plants well watered; feed with a tomato fertilizer every two weeks after the flowers appear. And once the fruits of your labour are revealed, pick, wash and enjoy with a cool bowl of ice cream!
For more garden ideas, accessories and daily design ideas for your home and lifestyle, shop at ACHICA
For beautiful furniture, accessories and daily design ideas for your home and lifestyle,
shop at ACHICA.
Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert