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May, 2018

Gourmet gardening

Last month we looked at ideas for creating stylish vegetable beds so it seems only natural that this month we consider easy-to-grow crops that you can enjoy eating right the way through the summer. We like to make our veg beds as ornamental as possible so why not consider edging them with thymes and then filling the gaps with salad crops and other culinary herbs? Lavender also makes a great edging or low hedging plant in an edible garden. If space is limited, choose a compact variety such as Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote. Lavender is a great plant to grow as it has so many culinary uses: homemade ice cream (pictured), shortbread or even pop a few sprigs in your ice cubes and add to summer drinks.

 

Tomatoes are really easy to grow and also add height to the edible garden. If you love tomatoes but don't have room on the ground so to speak, opt for a hanging basket and plant up a variety such as Tumbling Tom Red (see below) which produces a proliferation of cherry-sized fruits. It's perfectly suited to patio tubs and hanging baskets and is ideal for snacking on if located by a kitchen door or window. Tomatoes like well-drained, humus-rich soil so be sure to prepare the ground properly before planting and choose a variety that is recommended to be grown outdoors as not all are. If summer ends up being a wash-out and you're left with a glut of green tomatoes at the end of the season, then you can always make green tomato chutney to share with family and friends.

 

There's nothing better than harvesting your own crops and some of the best for this are a range of leafy vegetables sometimes referred to as cut-and-come-again. These include family favourites such as celery, lettuce (Lollo Rosso, Romaine and Rocket are particularly good), kale, chard, beetroot and spinach to name but a few. The main point here is to keep on harvesting the leaves while they are young and tender which in turn encourages the plant to send up new shoots (come again) rather than maturing and running to seed. This is great way to add to your five-a-day and way cheaper than the supermarket!