All you need is a window box, growbag or similar container to grow your own salads this summer and save on your supermarket and greengrocery bills. It’s still not too late (June) to get some plants in or sow some quick cut-and-come-again salad leaves.
Go for leaves
Salad leaves are a good starting place as they are quick to germinate and grow and take up very little space so are perfect if you just have a small plot, patio or balcony. Go for compact lettuces and remember to succession sow – this means sowing some seeds one week, some the next and so on so that your leaves don’t all come at the same time and you get a glut of crops to eat. Try rocket and mizuna too and herbs such as coriander and basil. Perpetual spinach and Swiss chard are great in salads and when lightly steamed too.
Tackle some tomatoes
You don’t need a greenhouse to grow them, just a sheltered and sunny spot. There are some great heritage varieties available that do well, even when we have cooler weather, such as tomato ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’. If you are particularly new to tomatoes and aren’t sure about pinching out the sideshoots and stringing them up, then go for bush varieties as these just need regular watering and feeding. If you fancy some of the cordon varieties such as ‘Gardener’s Delight’ and ‘Sungold’ then these will need to be tied to canes and the sideshoots pinched off. You can find out more about growing tomatoes here on another of our blogs. Some varieties can be grown as either a bush or cordon so you can choose what is best for you and the space you have and the lifestyle you lead.
Cucumbers are essential British summer fodder whether part of a jug of Pimm’s or sliced in a delicate, white bread sandwich. There are smooth-skinned greenhouse varieties or outdoor ones that can be a bit spiky when you harvest them so take care and wear gloves. There are also some quirky cucumbers that are round and yellow! Outdoor varieties can be easier to grow as you can leave them to trail along the ground but remember to protect them against slug attacks. Greenhouse varieties need to be tied to canes. Some varieties produce bitter fruits if you leave on the male flowers – female flowers have a mini cucumber behind them and male ones just have a thin stalk. But there are all-female varieties such as ‘Petita’.