Muck, a mug and a sack for top veg

Onions loves compost.
Onions loves compost.
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It’s good to know there is a renaissance in growing vegetables and your letters inspired my thoughts this week. One was from Joy, of Portchester, who has not had much joy with her swedes, beetroot or cabbage.

Another came from Chris at Fareham. He would like some ideas for making vegetables look attractive in his flower garden.

Joy has three beds for veg with paths between them. She has two compost bins on the go plus one for leaf mould. How is the compost best used?

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. Just choose those you enjoy most.

Use the well-rotted leaf mould where the potatoes will be grown.

Ten days before planting any of these crops fork in 4oz of blood, fish and bone to each square yard of ground. In a large garden it is best to buy a commercial-sized bag (try Warwick’s farm shop at Wickham.)

In the centre bed, plant all types of cabbages but do not add any compost. Use fish blood and bone fertiliser when planting out.

In the third bed try 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 some fish, blood and bone – 3oz along each yard run.

Beetroot fail because the ground has not been fertilised.

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 the vegetables are given an organic liquid feed.

My grandpa used manure in a hessian sack 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 on all his veg. The manure was replaced with fresh muck after a fortnight.

These days it is easier to use Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser. This is organic and made from seaweed. It’s wonderful stuff, smells like the sea when you use it and it works.

Making vegetables look good in flower gardens is simple. Why not try some of these ideas? How about an edging of Salad Bowl lettuce and beetroot along the edge of a flower bed or an edging of carrots around another. Curly Kale looks great in a shrub border or as a ‘dot plant’ in a flower bed.

Rhubarb looks great in any border as does sweetcorn which can be seen in some public parks’ flower beds planted singly.

Snails love rhubarb. You’ll find them under the leaves. Pick them off and give them the size eight treatment.


Quite a few birds have built nests and there might be one in your garden.

Even if there isn’t, please put out clean water for them.

If you love to see the birds, go to your garden centre and you will find all sorts of bird seed and other food which will attract the lovely darlings.