Grow your own vegetables!

In times of stress, our gardens and allotments become our refuge and remind us of the true value of plants and outside spaces.  For me, time in my garden is priceless; it lifts my spirits, leaving me feeling revitalised.  One of my favourite things to do is to grow my own food.

You don’t need a large garden to grow your own vegetables.  Companies often advertise low growing plants as being the best choice for those of us with small gardens, but I think it’s a mistake to grow only short plants in a small garden.  Having plants at eye level creates interest.  Tall, slim plants, like climbing French beans and runner beans, extend their growth vertically, meaning these plants won’t occupy much room.  Find a sunny spot to sow your seeds and gather some tall, sturdy poles, canes, or sticks, to make a wigwam to support your plants.

As well as being very productive, producing a good harvest from just a small area of ground, runner beans are very decorative.
Runner bean ‘Snowstorm’ seeds.
Runner bean ‘Moonlight’ seeds.
Runner bean ‘Moonlight’ produces white flowers.

There are some excellent varieties of runner bean on the market.  I’d recommend runner bean ‘Snowstorm’ and runner bean ‘Moonlight’ (both white flowered), ‘Tenderstar’ (red and white bicoloured flowers) and runner bean ‘Firestorm’ (red flowered).  These varieties were developed in the UK by British seed company, Tozer Seeds.  Tozer’s innovative crossing of runner and French beans, created runner bean varieties that are better equipped at coping with periods of drought and high temperatures.  Plants produce smooth, string-less pods, which have an excellent flavour and texture.  Thanks to their French bean heritage, these varieties all have self-setting pods; making them more reliable at cropping in bad weather and the plants’ pretty flowers make these beans a real joy to have in your garden.

Runner bean ‘Tenderstar’ seeds.
Newly opened Runner bean ‘Tenderstar’ flowers, in the rain.
The same Runner bean ‘Tenderstar’ flowers, pictured a couple of days later.
Runner bean ‘Firestorm’ seeds.
Runner bean ‘Hestia’ is a good choice of runner bean to grow in a container.
Runner bean ‘Hestia’ has red and white bicoloured flowers that are pollinated by bees.

If you’d prefer to grow a dwarf runner bean, try ‘Hestia’; while, ‘Speedy’ is a quick growing dwarf French bean.  Both of these varieties would be good choices to grow in pots or planters on your patio or balcony.

French bean ‘Speedy’ produces white flowers that are followed by green beans. This dwarf bean is another great choice for a container.

French bean ‘Cherokee Trail of Tears’ was grown by the native North American Cherokee people, who took seeds with them when they were forced to flee their homeland.  The beans can be eaten whole or shelled.  They crop over a long season; I usually gather beans for a few weeks after the first frosts arrive.

French bean ‘Cosse Violette’ produces succulent beans; their purple colour stands out against the plant’s green foliage, making it much easier to find them at harvest time.  These beans turn green during cooking.

Courgettes are very productive.  The plants grow larger in size than you might expect and their leaves can be a little rough; accordingly, plant your courgette seeds at least 1m (3ft) away from any paths.  I’m particularly fond of ‘Zephyr’, an F1 hybrid that produces handsome lemon-chiffon-yellow coloured courgettes, with gorgeous sage green coloured tips.  These courgettes look great and they taste delicious, too!

I prefer to harvest my courgettes when they’re still small in size, but this variety produces firm, slightly nutty tasting courgettes which are less watery than most; as a result, they still taste good when left to grow to a larger size.

Other articles that may interest you………….

For lots more ideas of what you can do in your garden, or at your allotment in June, please click here.

To read about my Florence Fennel Trial, please click here.

To see what crops I’ve grown in my Vegepod, please click here.

To read about my Compost Trials, please click here.

To read about some of my favourite scented flowers, please click here.

To read about Wisteria, please click here.

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