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Where to find food growing advice

Where to find food growing advice

Growing food is endlessly satisfying. It’s tricky, too, with ambitious slugs and stubborn seeds.

A little advice goes a long way. That’s why Garden Organic’s Master Gardeners are here to help in volunteer networks across England. Our mentors vary in growing knowledge and experience, but are united by wanting to share their passion for food growing to help others no matter the growing space.

We’re not about self sufficiency. Instead, we want to fill sandwiches and top up meals with fresh edible delights for people to munch.

In fact, most gardeners enjoy sharing ideas, tips, tricks, stories, seeds, plants and frustrations. They also share tea and biscuits if you’re lucky.

I’ve been gardening since age six, or potting bench height, and discovered gardening to be a generous hobby. A generous industry, too, as wonderfully described on the horticultural careers website, ‘Grow’, and on the agricultural/food sector website, ‘Bright Crop’.

My best wishes for your growing year,

Philip Turvil MI Hort

Master Gardener blogs
Coventry & Warwickshire, North London, South London, Norfolk, Medway, Lincolnshire and Somerset

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Top tips

Seasonal advice from the Master Gardener Programme

Garden Organicmonthly tips, free growing manual and membership

Crop by crop growing cards for vegetables, fruit, herbs, edible flowers & green manures
(latest UK crops here)

Step by step instructions for growing activities

Social networks

Lively websites

Crop planning by a school gardening club

More growing advice from the Master Gardener Programme

Posted in Edible flower, Featured, Fruit, Growing tips, Herbs, Herbs, Vegetables0 Comments

Excited crops to sow in March

Excited crops to sow in March

Now is the time to sow seeds for tasty cropping from hardy and tender vegetables.

Get your plate ready for quick growing crops harvested from last spring – ideal for your ‘Big Jubilee Lunch’ on the 3rd June 2012.

Or keep the BBQ hot for summer harvests – ideal for London 2012 celebrations! Please click here to read how Master Gardeners are getting involved with the Games…


Hardy favourites

My seed-draw unleashed a flurry of hardy crops this month.

Sow these chaps direct into the soil – or if slugs are watching you, sow seed in snug pots or modular trays instead, placing indoors or in a sheltered corner.

The following links open PDF growing instructions by Garden Organic:

Annual spinach, Beetroot, Broad Bean, Brussels Sprouts, Leek, Pea, Radish, Rocket, Salad Onion, Summer Cabbage, Pot Marigold, bulb onion, Parsnip, Lettuce, Potato, Calabrese, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, and others…

Tender favourites

Seeds of tender crops are just as keen this month.

Start these off indoors on a clean, warm windowsill or in a frost-free greenhouse/polytunnel.

These chaps will be ready for transplanting into their final location indoors once larger enough, or outdoors after the last frost. This last frost is usually mid May in the south of England and London; into June further north.

The following links open PDF growing instructions by Garden Organic:

Aubergine, Cucumber, Okra, Pepper, Tomato, Pumpkin and Squashes, Sweetcorn, spring and summer salad, and others…

Click here to discover unusual crops (opens ‘Sowing New Seed’ project website)

Did you know that Garden Organic publishes a wondrous array of growing tips?

Step by step growing activities…

What to do in the garden in March

Local growing blogs by volunteer Master Gardeners:
Warwickshire, North London, South London, Norfolk, and Lincolnshire

Article by Philip Turvil

Posted in Edible flower, Fruit, Growing tips, Herbs, Herbs, Vegetables0 Comments

Excited crops welcome September weather

Excited crops welcome September weather

Get ready for three groups of crops jostling for your attention this month.

Please click the links to open a PDF growing instructions for each crop.

Group one: ready to harvest

These keen crops include the following temptations for September (and into October with local weather permitting). Deep breath:
Asparagus pea, aubergine, Chinese cabbage, summer and autumn cabbage, calabrese, carrot, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, chicory, courgette and marrow, cucumber, globe artichoke, French bean, runner bean, beetroot, kohl rabi, leaf beet

As well as: leek, lettuce, okra, bulb onion, pea, pepper, maicrop potato, pumpkin and squashes, radish, rocket, oriental salads, spring and summer salads, shallot, annual spinach, sweetcorn, sweet potato, indoor tomato, turnip.

Not forgetting: apple, blackberry and hybrid berries, blackcurrant, blueberry, grape, melon, pear, plum, autumn raspberry, strawberry

And final snips from a whole host of herbs.

Group two: final sowing

These new arrivals want to be sown before winter, looking for an early start and sneaky harvest over the colder months and into spring.

Broad bean, garlic, radish, rocket, autumn and winter salads, oriental salads, annual spinach, chervil, sweet violet

Group three: long stay parking

These crops are intent on ignoring winter and joining you until Christmas and many into the New Year. These have long harvest periods. Another deep breath:

Sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, winter and savoy cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, celery, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohl rabi, leaf beet, leek, lettuceparsnip, radish, rocket, autumn and winter salads, oriental salads, salsify and scorzonera, annual spinach, swede, turnip.

And not forgetting year round herbs: bay, rosemary, sage, thyme (although harvest in moderation as they don’t grow much over winter)

Click here for more growing tips from Master Gardeners

Article by Philip Turvil

Posted in Edible flower, Fruit, Growing tips, Herbs, Herbs, Vegetables0 Comments

August holiday sowing tips

August holiday sowing tips

Some seeds refuse to go on holiday. Waiting to be sown by gardeners tempted by sneaky crop and a spare watering can.

Salads are the most keen: chicory, claytonia, corn salad, mizuma, mustard greens, and land cress, as well as lettuce and rocket when the weather is slightly cooler.

Sow these chaps in August and September for autumn sandwich-fillings, with an extended harvest during winter and early spring if plants have little shelter from a nearby wall or cloche/coldframe.

Other obliging crops are radish and the herb, chervil. Both happily sown during September too. September also tempts annual spinach and sweet violet. Few turnips too!

Special mention

Chinese cabbage (pictured) – a lovely, loosely hearting veg that’ll turn horticultural heads, together with the more ambitious brother, spring cabbage.

Autumn and Winter Salad

Vegetables to Sow August and Into Autumn

Click here for more growing tips from Master Gardeners

Visit Garden Organic’s growing pages

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Comment on new BBC Gardening blogs

Article by Philip Turvil

Posted in Edible flower, Growing tips, Herbs, Vegetables0 Comments

Extra July feed delights ambitious crops

Extra July feed delights ambitious crops

Extra feeds refresh lucky crops with top-up nutrients during hot weather cropping.

Tomatoes will love you for it. As will other fast living chaps. Focus on your hungriest crop first, such as potatoes; courgettes and relatives; cabbage and relatives; fruiting bushes and little trees, and flowers attracting pest-eating insects.

Remember container grown crops are always hungry. They have restricted roots, so unlike other crops, can’t access nutrient reserves in surrounding soil.

So, what to do?

Extra feeds compliment, rather than substitute – topping-up embedded nutrients found in every good, improved organic soil. Click here for tests (opens PDF). Extra feeds also top up growing medium-mixes that fill up your containers. Click here for recipes (opens PDF).

Start with scattering organic feed pellets for a season-long gain, such as chicken manure. Or just replace (or add to) the top five centimetres of compost a couple of times a season. This works wonders when the new nutrients travel to roots beneath (top-dressing). Try the same with well-rotted manure.

Pouring liquid comfrey feed

For regular kicks…

Using ‘comfrey’ liquid every week or two is marvellous. It’s made from enthusiastic plants that live quietly in the corner of a veg patch. Comfrey feed is especially full of potassium for better fruiting, together will other nutrients. While nettle feed is especially full of nitrogen, good for leafy growth.

Please click here to read Garden Organic’s step-by-step photo instructions for making your own comfrey and nettle feeds (opens PDF)

More growing tips…

Click here for more growing tips from Master Gardeners

Visit Garden Organic’s growing pages

Add posts to Grow Your Own forums

Comment on new BBC Gardening blogs

Article by Philip Turvil

Posted in Edible flower, Fruit, Growing tips, Herbs, Herbs, Vegetables0 Comments

GO! So much to sow in March

GO! So much to sow in March

Seeds are jumping out their packets as food growers welcome the warm(er) weather.

With so many crop highlights, it’s tricky to know what to sow when and where. So read on for a swift, but handy guide.

Please adjust timings for your local weather and growing conditions. And adjust for unusual, less traditional crops you might be growing, such as those in Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project.

Inside is the land of plenty…

Use windowsills, a warm porch, or insulated/frost free greenhouse or polytunnel.

This suits your ‘tender’ crops that dislike a touch of frost, but also suits hardier crops that benefit from a head start in the warmth.

Get sowing your (links open growing card)….

Fruits: Aubergine, Greenhouse Cucumber, Okra, Pepper, Indoor Tomato
Vegetables: Celery, Lettuce, Seakale
Herbs: Chives, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Parsley, Sorrel, Tarragon, Thyme
Edible flowers: Nasturtium

Outdoors is another land of plenty…

Use pots or trays along a sheltered wall or in a coldframe, or sow seed direct into the soil.

This suits hardier crops that don’t mind a bit of cold. Some food growers like to start some outdoor crops indoors for head start or slug protection.

Get sowing your (links open growing cards)…

Fruit: not yet…
Vegetables: Annual spinach, Beetroot, Broad Bean, Brussels Sprouts, Bulb Onion, Cauliflower, Leek, Lettuce, Oriental Salad, Parsnip, Pea, Radish, Rocket, Salad Onion, Shallot, Spring and Summer Salad Summer Cabbage
Herbs: not yet… but Coriander and Dill in April
Edible flowers: Borage and Pot Marigold
Green manures: Mustard, Phacelia, Vetch


There’s barely time for a cup of tea
(barely… there’s always time for a cuppa)

Click for growing advice

Written by Philip Turvil

Posted in Edible flower, Featured, Fruit, Growing tips, Herbs, Vegetables0 Comments

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