Q- I’m new to growing vegetables, and I’ve only got a small garden area on my smallholding. What do you recommend I grow? I’d like some vegetables all year round and I’m hoping to save plenty of money.
A- Joanne Brannan replies: Vegetables that produce a lot from a small space include: Swiss chard is a colourful cut and come again leaf vegetable that is hard to buy in the shops. The plants can crop for nearly a year! For the winter, the less colourful perpetual spinach, or leaf beet, is hardier than chard, and also remains productive for a long time.
Climbing French beans make good use of space in a small garden. I recommend the “Cherokee Trail of Tears” variety, which is very productive and can also be used as a drying bean if you don’t manage to pick all the pods when young. Alternatively, runner beans are also productive in a small space.
Leeks do take up space for a long period, but, with the right mix of two or three varieties, they can last until early spring. Sow close together in a seed bed in rows in early spring and plant out once they have reached the diameter of a pencil. You can plant them out quite close to each other (down to 3” spacing within a row) and still get good-sized plants.
Courgette plants are quite large, but can be incredibly productive. The beautiful yellow varieties are just as productive as the green ones and have a delicate flavour. I suggest you just plant just one or two plants!
Salad leaves can grow quickly to make good use of any space left between crops. Buy a packet of mixed salad leaf seeds for varied salads.
To make the very most of the space you have, add plenty of well-rotted manure or compost to your soil before you begin, and keep the organic content of your soil topped up by adding more every year or so – it will make a real difference. Keep well on top of the weeds, as weed competition can considerably reduce the yields of your crops.
The traditional ‘hungry gap’ of April/May is the least productive time in any vegetable garden. I recommend arming yourself with a good book on edible wild food and heading for the hedgerows for wild for greens, which are plentiful at just that time!
The cabbage family (including Brussels sprouts, kale and sprouting broccoli) as these take up a lot of space and are in the ground for a long time.
Potatoes. Not only are potatoes cheap to buy, but they also take up a lot of space.Onions. To grow a useful quantity you need quite a bit of space, and again onions are cheap to buy.
Carrots. Carrots are tricky to grow as carrot fly is hard to eliminate and. once again, they are cheap to buy.