As I write, we have had some wonderful spring weather in the last month- April- a tonic for all gardeners. However, I must be mindful that these words will not be reaching you until high summer, and the vagaries of the weather and lateness of the season means that the growing year has reached its midpoint and many items will have passed the time of no return as it were.  But any time is a good time to put spade to soil and start the rewarding adventure of starting the first step in self sufficiency- or let us say partial self sufficiency!  The gardens of England are a priceless asset in the difficult times that may lie ahead and can be very productive.

So may I encourage you to start simple- and get on with it!

  • Find a good patch of ground which is in the sun during most of the daylight hours; give it a good digging over while removing whatever is there at the moment- put the weeds in the compost and move other items to another place. It is probably rich enough in nutrients if you have not been taking anything out of the ground recently.
  • Don't try growing from seed at this point- leave that to next year. Go down to a vegetable plant grower or market and buy young plants to put straight into the soil; do it now! I recommend East Street Market, Camberwell, which is cheap and the stuff is pretty good.
  • I will  not spend valuable space specifying the crops at this point, save to suggest that young lettuce and brassica are a good start. But decide yourself when you see what is on offer. Though it is late you will still see young tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers and lots of other plants for sale. Go with what you find and fancy. Don't be put off. A good summer will bring everything on; warm sunshine and watering will get you there. Then next year, when you have got the bug, you can start growing from seed with carrots, beetroot, parsnips and so much more.

I have been asked to be brief, so that will do for now. But one last word.

As some people know, I run a large vegetable and fruit garden in the Griffin Ground- kind permission of Kings College- and am always delighted to give what help I can. Copying what the experts do (I am not one!) is the best way of learning. I do grow- I should say we do grow, for there are volunteers helping- examples of virtually every fruit and vegetable commonly grown in the UK, so there is plenty to see and discuss.

In addition Dulwich Going Greener has two projects it sponsors- the Secret Greenhouse which shows what can be done on a very limited site, and the Model Vegetable Garden in the Dulwich Park which is making great progress. Please support them.  Happy gardening and good growing to all.

David Smart

(David has an open day on July 4th This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)