Growing tips

Picture: Photo: Calendula flower by julie Smith

Published: 10/04/2019

Spring’s here, it’s time to get busy in the garden and Capital Growth’s Julie Smith shares her tips on where to focus our efforts.

Be a tomato hero: Prune your vine and indeterminate cultivar tomatoes regularly to reap lots of ripe fruits. Snip side shoots and the leaves under the first truss of flowers to allow for good air circulation. If outside, only leave 4 to 5 trusses of flowers on the plant. For indoor tomatoes, you can go up to 7 or 8 flowerheads.

Grow the rainbow: Plant colourful carrots like ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Yellowstone’ either directly outside in drills, 2 cm deep and 15 cm apart, or using root trainers to start your seedlings indoors.

Save your seeds: You can easily save seeds from self-pollinating tomatoes, French beans, peas and lettuce and keep varieties that have done well in your garden. Select the best plants for seed saving and learn how to become self sufficient.

Build your soil: Work on a crop rotation (growing different families of crops in succession to avoid depleting the soil and limit pests) and plant green manure like clover, buckwheat and phacelia between your crops to enrich the soil with organic matter.

Squash it: Sow squashes indoor in April and take them out in early June. A couple of plants is enough, as you don’t want a squash overload. I like the Patty Pan varieties and ‘Crookneck squash’ for their incredible shape. If you are worried about slugs and snails, use protective rings on your courgettes.

Grow for wildlife: Include wildlife friendly flowers (Calendula, Anise Hyssop, sunflower and poached egg plants are all great) and leave untouched piles of wood as insect shelter. Grow a diverse variety of plants to offer shelter to birds, butterfly and insects.

Julie is a food growing trainer for Capital Growth. Find details of this season’s workshops (and 50% discount for paid-up LFL supporters) at: