BRIAN KIDD: Going around in circles is the best way to grow veg

Rotation is the way to successful veg growing. Raised beds make it even better.
Rotation is the way to successful veg growing. Raised beds make it even better.
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It’s good to see the great return to growing vegetables and two letters inspired my thoughts this week.

The first came from Ali who lives at Paulsgrove. Her garden is very chalky and dries out quickly in summer. Ali doesn’t have much success with swedes, beetroot or the cabbage family.

The second was from Chris who lives at Fareham and he would like ideas for making vegetables look attractive in his flower garden.

Ali has three beds for vegetables with paths between. One of my articles inpired her to create raised beds. She has two compost bins on the go, plus a leaf mould bin.

One of her questions was how she should best use her compost.

In bed one dig in as much compost as you can and choose what you would like to grow. Go for beans, peas, potatoes, marrows, shallots and onions. They all love compost.You won’t be able to grow all these, so choose those you enjoy most.

Use the well-rotted leaf mould where potatoes will be grown. Ten days before planting any of these fork in four ounces of blood, fish and bone to each square yard of ground. In a large garden it’s best to buy a commercial-sized bag.

Why not join an allotment association where they weigh all fertilisers and put it in bags for you, like all shops did in the good old days?

In the centre bed, plant all types of cabbages but no compost. Use fish blood and bone when planting out the plants.

In the third bed grow all types of root crops such as beetroot, swede, turnip and radish.

Swedes are difficult to grow in gardens, but start sowing the seeds in insert cells using just one seed to each cell and 10 days before they are planted, fork in fish, blood and bone using three ounces along each yard run. The reason why beetroot fail is because there was no fertiliser in the ground.

Next year, use compost in bed two so the same type of plant is not grown in the same bed all the time. This is called crop rotation.

During the growing season, excellent results can be achieved if vegetables are watered with an organic liquid feed. My grandpa used manure in a hessian bag suspended in a drum of water. The bag was lifted up and down a dozen times and he would use a big mug of the manure water in a two-gallon can of rainwater. He used this on all his veg. The manure was replaced after about a fortnight.

These days it’s easier to use Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser.

Making vegetables look good in flower beds is simple.

Try an edging of Salad Bowl lettuce with beetroot along the edge of a bed and an edging of carrots around another.

Curly kale looks great in a shrub border or as a ‘dot plant’ in a flower bed. Sweetcorn is also successful in borders and can be seen in some public park flower beds. It’s a good-looking plant when grown on its own, and rhubarb looks great in any border.


Daffodil and tulip leaves are a nuisance when planting out summer flowers and you won’t be the only one to be tempted to pull them off! Please don’t.

The quickest way to encourage spring bulb foliage to die down naturally is to remove the dead flowers and seed heads.