|Strawberry and tomato (as if you didn't know!)|
One advantage to starting off now is that you may find a few of the seed companies (and supermarkets) are selling their seeds at a discount, but you have to be quick. Thompson and Morgan send out a newsletter with their special offers, worth signing up for as they recently had 50% off all seeds, too late for a mention here as that offer has finished. Also sign up to UK Veg Gardeners (it's free), join the Freebies and Bargains group and get alerted to any special offers as the members find them.
So, back to what can still be grown in June. Actually, rather a lot - with the benefit that the ground will be warm and, hopefully, moist with all the recent showers. For a first year, I would (and did) go for quickly maturing veg such as salad leaves, radish, etc. This will give the satisfaction of eating home-grown without the long wait. Baby spinach leaves can be picked in as little as 4 weeks. Cut and come again lettuce is a good one, but grow it in a partly shaded area to prevent bolting (running to seed) if the weather gets hot again. Home-grown tomatoes are delicious and mini plants are swamping the garden centres at the moment. Go for a small bush type and plant it in a grow bag (if you must, they're so ugly!) or trough to save space in your raised bed for other veg. (Be aware if you buy strawberry plants this year that they won't fruit until next year. They can also easily be grown from seed.)
|Spinach leaves and Radish|
I'd highly recommend Sweet corn, if you have room - baby corn or popping corn if space is an issue - it's so much tastier cooked straight after picking; Stephen Shirley of Victoriana Nurseries gives the inside deal on growing it here on YouTube.
Fennel bulb, beetroot, french beans and peas can be sown outdoors now. Pea shoots can be grown in a window box or kitchen flowerpot and harvested within a couple of weeks as a tasty addition to a salad (as I'm sure all fans of Alys Fowler's Edible Garden programme will know!) - and you don't need special seeds, buy a pack of Bigga dried peas from the supermarket, they'll do the job.
And what about marrows and courgettes, perfect time to sow these straight into the ground. Courgette flowers (the female flowers with the fruit just forming behind) can be picked, stuffed and deep fried while the courgette continues to grow - the plant does get quite big but you can grow stuff around it, such as spinach, lettuce, herbs or nasturtium flowers (edible!).
|Chard (Bright Lights) and Butternut Squash|
And lets not forget winter veg: mini cauliflowers, purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus for next spring (I'm planning to sow seed for Romanesco cauli aka broccoli when the rain stops). Providing they don't bolt, seeds sown in July will overwinter (it worked for me last year) and make a delicious meal in the spring with some cheese sauce over the top, or add to a stir-fry.
Lastly, try and find a space between other veg for herbs: I can't do without parsley, thyme, oregano, coriander, mint and rosemary being readily available as I'm hopeless at planning ahead with buying herbs. (See my last post for a link to Monty Don planting herbs on Gardener's World.) Shop bought herbs won't last long if left in their pots as the seeds are overcrowded but garden centre herbs planted in a bed with space to grow will last you throughout the summer, and probably reappear next year - a much better investment!
I hope this has provided some inspiration, for Ana and for anyone else reading who may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by choice. If you enjoy veg growing, it's well worth reading books on the subject from the library. Alan Buckingham's Allotment Month-by-Month is a good one, as in anything by Joy Larkcom. You Tube fans might like to check out Claire's Allotment for her excellent how-to videos.
(This post is also for my sister, Sue, who is also enjoying the delights of home-grown spinach from her first raised bed. xx)