Pippa Greenwood's tips on growing your own at home
Pippa has appeared at the show in previous years and has put together the below seasonal grow your own tips for visitors to our website.
At www.pippagreenwood.com you can get specialist Grow Your Own advice, purchase plants, seeds and herbs at the click of a button and also access quick and easy email solutions to your gardening problems.
Go Herb Crazy!
Sow seeds of easy to germinate herbs such as flat-leaved parsley and coriander into pots or the garden soil under a cloche and then buy in a few small pots of herbs from the garden centre or nursery you like best.
They are attractive plants and you can easily create a gorgeous looking planter full of meal-changing herbs.
Use a multi-purpose compost with lots of extra horticultural grit added and ensure there is really good drainage from the base of the planter, plant up with you favourite healthy meal additives and then drizzle some more horticultural grit over the compost surface.
Gorgeous to look at, Great to eat! Out in the garden, start looking for early slug damage and take prompt action as all the lovely tender new growth is a slug's 5 star meal, I'd always recommend the biological control nematodes such as Nemaslug as I find that they work brilliantly and can be used with total safety around all your vegetables and herbs.
Check out the range I now have available at www.pippagreenwood.com where you'll find lots of good value biological controls!
Growing with Propagators
There is still time to sow seeds of outdoor varieties of peppers, chillis and tomatoes, just make sure you check the seed packet carefully for ideal temperatures for getting best germination rates.
At this time of year my (small fleet) of electric propagators is always full to bursting and I've had some brilliant results from my Stewart Variable Control Electric Propagator.
It allows really accurate control of temperature, so you can give the seeds exactly what they want - the clever bit is the tiny cable which has a temperature sensitive end so you can pop it into the compost of the trays/pots in the propagator, so allowing you to determine the compost temperature, not just the air temperature. Make sure you check the propagator regularly so that, once the seedlings have appeared, you can ensure they have adequate light and are not kept too warm.
Get Prepared for 2012 Growing Season
It may be on and off, but Spring seems to be in the air, so make sure you get in stocks of all the seeds , trays and compost for any veg and herb sowing.
If you've not got all you need yet, you'll be able to get lots of supplies at the show (16th-18th March...do I really need to remind you?!) and if last year is anything to go by, there will be some good bargains to be had too!
I'm really looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the show this Friday to Sunday. Make sure you allow plenty of time as it is going to be even bigger and more exciting than last year...so whether its gorgeous goats, happy hens, buzzing bees or, of course my favourites the Great Green Veg and Grow Your Own....there will be hours of browsing and buying and talks and demos to attend, so make a day of it if you can.
But, whatever you do, make sure you pop along to visit me on my 'Grow Your Own with Pippa Greenwood' stand - you can sign up for my newsleter, buy a GYO with PG Gift card for great veg plants and weekly advice emails from me, or buy signed copies of my books...or just come to say hello!
Treat yourself to some seriously melt-in-the-mouth scrummy new potatoes at the earliest possible moment...plant a few tubers of potatoes such as Charlotte or Casablanca or your favourite early variety into the ground in the usual way, keep the row covered with fleece or one of the fleece-covered Easy tunnels available from www.pippagreenwood.com
By planting a few earlier than normal you can enjoy the dreamlike-delights of new potatoes a few weeks early. If you've a greenhouse then plant up a large pot or potato bag and keep it in the protection of the greenhouse.
Either way start dreaming of new potatoes drenched in butter and covered with chopped chives or mint...mmmm! And talking of chives, if you take a small section from an established clump of chives now, pot it into a good-sized pot of fresh compost and keep that moist and in a warm spot you can be sure there will be fresh chives ready too!
At this time of year it is worth covering a few of your strawberry plants to keep them a little warmer, and so, hopefully, encourage earlier growth and a few extra-special extra-early fruits.
As flowers are not open at this stage, it is fine to use either a solid walled cloche or a bell-cloche or a pull-out tunnel covered with micromesh, fine net or fleece. All of these will help to speed growth up really well, which is just what you need right now, but don't forget that as soon as the weather warms up a little more, and flowers start to appear, you will need to allow access to pollinating insects such as bees.
Opening up the ends of the tunnels should do the trick and allows you to keep a good level of protection AND get the flowers pollinated! I've got a selection of my favourite pull-out tunnels and cloches available on www.pippagreenwood.com in the 'New Products' section.
Before using any sort of tunnel or cloche, take a minute or two to check beneath and around the strawberry leaves and remove any slugs and snails which may be lurking there, the last thing you want to do is give them any extra protection!!
Only just over three weeks before The Edible Garden Show, but before you get lost in dreams of all things edible (see you there, I hope!) make sure you tackle your Autumn fruiting raspberry canes.
I like to prune them back as late as possible, because of unexpected late cold spells like we had for the last two winters.
Use really sharp secateurs to cut each cane back to just above ground level. If canes are showing signs of blotching or are obviously totally dead, then cut these as close to the ground as you can, in order to minimise the risk of infection of the new canes which will soon be produced.
Apply a bulky organic mulch, ideally garden compost or well rotted manure around the bases of the canes, but not right up to them....and sit back and dream of the crop to come!
Go to www.pippagreenwood.com to visit me online .