Food for thought in the garden this summer
6th April 2019
Whether you’ve got a large outside space or a small balcony, you can grow an abundance of delicious herbs, fruit and edible flowers to enhance your cooking and general wellbeing. Victoria Truman sows some seeds of inspiration...
An edible garden is a garden that contains flowers, herbs, seeds, berries and plants that you can eat. It does not have to be large. Your garden can start with a few pots and containers, or even just a window box with a few herbs.
In my own garden I have designed spaces that allow for the growing of wild strawberries, thyme, chives and plants with edible flowers, such as pansies, violets and forget-me-nots, all making perfect edging plants.
I have a low wall which I have designed so it had a planting channel along the top where lemon thyme grows in abundance, I have rosemary planted behind topiary balls adding structure to the border whilst delivering handfuls of scented herb all year round.
The border is beside my patio doors within easy reach when I need extra flavour for the food I’m cooking. I planted up an antique, galvanised champagne bucket with wild strawberry plants, I feed them regularly through the summer and I’m rewarded with so many sweet-tasting, tiny strawberries. Delicious and fragrant, I pick and eat them as I tend my garden, a worthy treat and so easy to grow and maintain.
I buy fresh basil plants every spring and plant out into terracotta pots, and I have bronze fennel, foeniculum vulgare ‘Giant Bronze’, growing in my herbaceous borders. Its fine clouds of feathery, bronze-purple leaves are followed by flat-topped, sulphur-yellow flower heads in mid to late summer and then by aromatic seeds.
This giant fennel looks fantastic as a centrepiece for a sunny herb garden. The foliage acts as a delicate veil through which the flower heads of herbaceous plants and bulbs can be seen. Tasty foliage suits both fish and meat as well as in salads.
Fruit can be easy with a bit of thought. Many trees, bushes or low-growing plants have pretty fruit, attractive flowers or foliage. If you don’t have room in a border, make the most of vertical surfaces such as walls and fences – grape vines, fan-trained cherries, espalier or cordon apples, plums, peaches and figs are all ideal. Make sure you install some horizontal training wires or screw on a piece of trellis before planting.
Top jobs for spring
Here are a few ideas on how to make a garden beautiful and productive
1 Finish planting shrubs, trees and hedges, watering them in well
2 Prune roses. You can shorten them by at least a half, cutting back just above an outward-facing bud, I am training my roses horizontally to make them produce more flowers
3 Feed and mulch beds and borders using organic farmyard fertiliser and a good plant food first
4 Plant herbaceous items thinking of what you want from the look of your garden. If planning a new border, always use fewer types of plants in bigger quantities to give you more impact
5 Plant summer bulbs in borders and pots
6 Sow tender vegetables such as tomatoes and runner beans on a window ledge indoors
7 Buy young vegetable plants in a nursery such as lettuce and cabbage for planting out
8 In warmer areas, start growing vegetables outdoors from seed
9 Mow the lawn on a high cut
10 Weeds are starting to grow, keep on top of them on a weekly basis to stop it becoming a laborious job. It’s like ironing, there’s always more!