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Grow Yourself Healthy: July
I’ve just picked, and eaten, my first home-grown tomato of the year – and it was delicious. It’s actually a brand new outdoor bush variety, and yet to be named, but on my sunny patio it has even beaten the greenhouse crops to produce the first ripe fruits.
Both greenhouse and garden are developing well, proving yet again just how much fresh produce can be grown in our gardens. And that’s the aim of our Grow Yourself Healthy campaign, to show people how a little planning can turn their gardens and patios into productive plots to feed their family.
So, what have I been picking? Salad leaves are an almost daily essential for me, and these have been augmented with chives, parsley, and self-sown rocket and watercress. To maintain continuity I need to keep up with my seed sowing, so a few seeds of different salads are sown in modular trays every couple of weeks. This raises nice young plants to use to fill gaps or replace older salads now past their best.
And by salad leaves I don’t just mean lettuce. Among my favourites are mizuna, pak choi, beetroot, spinach, coriander, and a host of others. I’ve even been enjoying some rat-tail radish, eating the small seed pods that taste exactly like, well, radish.
Fitting fruit into a small garden is always worthwhile. A short row of raspberries just 1.2m long has produced several pickings, used to add tasty home-grown vitamins to my morning bowl of cereal. Blackberries are now taking over, and I’d thoroughly recommend thornless varieties to give regular pickings throughout June and July, possibly longer. The heat has brought the crop on earlier this year, so I’m not sure that they’ll last into August.
If you don’t have any soft fruits then check the catalogues now, and order for autumn delivery and planting.
This week I’ll be picking my first greenhouse cucumbers. I’m growing ‘Tiffany’, a powdery mildew-resistant variety, and my three plants are carrying at least 20 fruits between them. All the family love cucumber, so this is one thing we won’t have to buy for many months.
I’ve never known greenhouse tomatoes to grow so quickly, with the tips of most plants already reaching the roof. Each is carrying four or five trusses of fruit, with more flowers opening, but ripe fruits so far eluding me. Golden courgettes are swelling, garlic bulbs fattening nicely, and the first chillies and peppers almost ready for the kitchen.
With the ‘grow your own’ year now in full swing, and more crops coming on stream each week, you begin to appreciate just how much can be grown, and how much money can be saved, by finding space for a few extra crops, fruits, salads and herbs in your own garden.
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