Saturday, 11 July 2009

Window Boxes - Your Starting Point!

One of the runaway successes on the London Vegetable Garden has undoubtedly been rocket leaves! The most challenging vegetables have been root vegetables, due to the space they need in-between each individual plant. Leaf vegetables however, have produced much more successful results, due to their ability to flourish in small spaces.

One of the main things I've learnt from three months of running the London Vegetable Garden project is that although planting crops in pots can be a successful method of growing vegetables, these pots need to be big. Failing this, the seeds need to be sown very thinly indeed, which I'll admit was my downfall when it came to the radishes.

Gardeners with actual gardens have the luxury of deep soil and plenty of space. Urban gardeners in London and other UK cities that have only a balcony on which to practice their green-fingered persuasions have a finite depth of soil, usually determined by the size of their pots!

With this in mind then, one of the easiest and low maintenance plants I've managed to grow since April has been salad leaves. I've used a simple window box to plant seeds (those of you that have been following me since the beginning will remember the success I had with rocket), which has proved successful time and time again.

After exhausting the window box of rocket a few weeks ago, I re-planted some rocket and also some lettuce (Lollo Rossa), that came courtesy of the BBC's 'Dig In' free seeds give-away. As you can see from the picture below, this 'mix and match' approach not only offers me a nice variety of salad leaves to eat, but is also much more satisfying from a visual perspective.

Many people argue that vegetable gardening is ugly, preferring to maximise their gardens with colour from various flower displays. However, if well thought-out and carefully planned, a vegetable garden can look every bit as beautiful as a flower garden, as well as providing you with plenty of splendid crops on which to feast – the beautiful colours from the lettuce paying homage to this point.

So if you're feeling inspired but are not sure where to start, I guarantee you that a simple window box, some compost and a few salad seeds will yield impressive results and get you well and truly into growing your own! And if you don't have a window box, why not use an old ice cream tub or an old washing up bowl? Why not give it a go this weekend? I'd love to hear how you all get on!

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