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Gardening Coach: the time for growing vegetables is now

PUBLISHED: 11:43 06 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:43 06 March 2017

Dreaming of a bumper veg box?

Dreaming of a bumper veg box?

joannatkaczuk

Dreaming of a bumper veg plot this summer? Get planning and preparing now, says Judy Shardlow, Herts-based RHS award-winning garden designer and coach

March is a great month to get some planning done for the coming year. If you’re dreaming of a vegetable garden bursting with tasty and colourful produce, then buying seeds for the year ahead begins now. One of the plants that I’ll be growing is Spaghetti Squash, it’s delicious roasted with other root vegetables and chorizo. The squash fruits grow from the sprawling vine that covers the soil and is ideal for partnering with sweetcorn F1 Sundance, an early maturing variety suited to our variable British summers.

I’ll be edging my raised vegetable beds with pretty purple dwarf French beans Purple Queen, which has beautiful purple flowers as well as pods. I also can’t resist growing yellow courgettes like F1 Goldmine or beautiful beetroot Rainbow Mix, which has deep red, bullseye pink, yellow and white beetroots that add gorgeous colour when grated raw into summer salads. Last year I also tried trailing outdoor tomato varieties Tumbling Tom in red and yellow that were laden with sweet cherry-sized fruit in September and which I’ll definitely be growing again this year.

Many vegetables are best started off indoors before planting outside, so spend the time now buying vegetable seeds, seed trays, compost and cold frames and digging over beds for planting out.

Five things to do in the garden this month

(1) Chit potatoes

Delicious potato Cara can be planted from March and has great slug and drought resistance.

(2) Marvellous mulching

Mulching borders with a thick layer of garden compost, well-rotted horse manure or spent mushroom compost will add nutrients and good bacteria to the soil and help retain moisture during summer months.

(3) Sow cosmos

The daisy-shaped flowers of cosmos will flower all summer. Try lovely crimson and pink cosmos bipinnatus Antiquity.

(4) Plant aconites

Butter-yellow aconites can be planted ‘in the green’ now in rich soil beneath deciduous trees, but make sure they’re transplanted promptly and don’t dry out or they’ll fail to establish.

(5) Plant spring bulbs

Bulbs can be planted in spring too for late summer flowering. Try stunning architectural bulb eucomis Sparkling Burgundy.

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