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National Gardening Week is a good time to start growing your own

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Pots and containers can be used to grow fruit and vegetables

GARDENING is not only a great way to keep body and soul in shape – it can also help with your five-a-day if you grow your own fruit and vegetables.

It’s also National Gardening Week - April 27 - May 3 – a shout out by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for all gardeners and would-be gardeners up and down the country to ‘keep gardening’ as a way to looking after your physical health and wellbeing.

Independent gardening consultant Sarah Milne offers these tips.

One of the easiest ways of getting started in gardening is to grow plants in pots and that includes fruit and veg. It’s a common misconception that you need a lot of space to be able to grow vegetables. You can still achieve real success with container grown plants.

Provided the container is large enough to give the plants a good root run - aim for a depth and width of 45cm - and they are never allowed to dry out, you will be amazed at what you can harvest.

There are some real advantages in using portable containers as you can move them around to achieve the best growing position eg tomatoes prefer to be south facing and aubergines love sunny positions, spinach and lettuce prefer to be in the shade when it is very hot. A simple wheeled pot trolley works well for this.

Bear in mind though, all container grown crops must be well watered and kept moist.

Vegetables that grow particularly well in containers include beetroot, broad beans, carrots, herbs, lettuce, peas, potatoes, salad leaves - rocket and chicory- , salad onions, spinach and tomatoes.

For beginners, some of the easiest fruits to grow are berries - strawberries and blueberries love containers and both will crop heavily once you get them established.

You can grow crops in pots all year round, but mainly from April to October.

Seeds can be sowed straight into the container soil and at this time of year will start sprouting and growing almost immediately.

If pots and containers are just part of your outside space then here are some gardening tips for this month from the RHS

  • Tie back climbing and rambling roses
  • Keep an eye out for pests and keep weeds under control
  • Start feeding plants in the garden from now to the end of the summer
  • Sow seeds directly into the soil so they can flower in the summer
  • Sow vegetable seeds directly into prepared beds
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs
  • Sow new lawns or repair bare patches
  • Prune shrubs and trees
  • Apply mulch or manure to flower beds and pots
  • Prepare hanging baskets

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