GARDENING: How to grow great veg, with Brian Kidd

Freshly-picked swedes
Freshly-picked swedes

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BRIAN KIDD: It's a tricky job but worth it in the end

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It’s good to know there is a great return to growing vegetables and two letters inspired my thoughts this week. One was from Janice at Fareham who has not had much luck with the swede, beetroot or cabbage family. The other was from Chris at Bedhampton who would like ideas for making vegetables look attractive in his flower garden?

Janice seems to be organised, has been working hard and has three beds for vegetables with paths between them. She has two compost bins on the go and a leaf mould bin. How is the rotted compost best used?

Well done Janice; well-rotted manure and well-made compost is ideal in all parts of the garden whether for veg, flowers or fruit.

In bed one, dig in as much compost as you can and plant beans, peas, potatoes, marrows, shallots and onions. They all love compost. You won’t be able to grow all of these so choose those you enjoy most. Use well-rotted leaf mould where the 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. For a large garden it's best to buy a commercial-sized bag.

In the centre bed, plant all types of cabbages but with 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, one to each cell and 10 days before they are planted, fork in fish, blood and bone using three ounces on each yard run. The reason why beetroot fail is because there was no fertiliser in the ground.

Next year, use compost in the second bed 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, you'll get excellent results if the 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 take a big mug of manure water in a two-gallon can of rainwater and use this on all his veg. The manure was replaced with fresh after a fortnight. These days it’s easier to use Maxicrop liquid fertiliser.

Making vegetables look good in flower gardens is simple. Try one or two of these ideas.

Why not try an edging of Salad Bowl lettuce with beetroot along the edge of a flower bed or an edging of carrots around another bed.

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. Hardly anyone ever notices because sweetcorn is a good-looking plant when grown on it’s own. It loses its looks when grown in blocks in fields.

Rhubarb is great in any border and there is another advantage, all your the snails will go underneath the rhubarb, so it’s easy to find them.

THIS WEEK'S TOP TIP

Daffodil and tulip leaves are a pain when planting summer flowers and you won't be the only one to pull them off. Please don’t. The quickest way to encourage bulb foliage to die naturally is to remove the dead flowers and seed head. The stems then die naturally and all the goodness in the stalk returns to the mother bulb.