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Grow Your Own

It's About Time We Went Back To Basics As Far As Growing Our Own Is Concerned crack

Despite the rising popularity of the ‘grow-your-own’ movement, the majority of the population is in the dark about when to plant some of the most popular fruit and veg, according to research by Gardeners’ World magazine.

Do you know exactly when to sow your runner beans, plant your onions and harden off tomatoes, or the best time for planting fruit trees and bushes?

Nearly 2,000 readers of BBC magazines were asked about the best time to plant 20 of the most popular crops. More than 50% of those surveyed either had no idea or were incorrect on nine out of 10 fruits listed and six out of 10 vegetables. This suggests a great deal more support will be needed if the nation’s growers are to get the best results.

Adam Pasco, editor of Gardeners’ World magazine, says: “It is perhaps not surprising that there is a great deal of ignorance about when to plant and grow, particularly given the 24/7 availability of so many vegetables and fruit in supermarkets.

“Perhaps this is also a reason many people are not as successful as they might be when giving it a go, but with the right knowledge, the results can be sensational.”

The research found that people were least knowledgeable about plums, with just one in five aware that October and November are the planting months, while only 30% knew that the best time for planting blueberries is between October and March. And despite the popularity of growing raspberries in the UK, only 35% knew when to plant them.

People had the most knowledge about strawberries, with more than half getting the planting season between March and September right.

Fruits which are best planted between October and March include apples, blackberries and tayberries, blackcurrants, cherries, gooseberries, elderberries, quince, red and white currants.

With vegetables, only 26% of people surveyed knew that May and June were the right months to plant out runner beans.

Onions and tomatoes were the vegetables people knew most about planting, sowing onions outdoors between February and June and planting outdoor tomato plants in May and June.

Veg which can be sown outdoors from March onwards, depending on region (if you live in a cooler spot you may want to leave them until April) include beetroot, broad beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbages, leeks, peas and salad leaves.

Those who want to sow some early veg can do so indoors, with the help of a myriad products including heated propagators, self-watering seed starting systems and light systems in which seed trays sit beneath a hood of fluorescent bulbs which provide the light needed for healthy vigorous growth.

Pasco says: “Many salads, herbs and crops can be sown indoors on a warm, bright windowsill or in a greenhouse. The earliest sowings during February and March will benefit from extra warmth that can be provided by using a small electric propagator, while keen gardeners can benefit from larger models providing greater space and temperature control.

“By April and May weather conditions will have warmed-up, and electric propagators are nolonger essential, but remember that the later a crop is sown the later it will develop and mature.

“Even early outdoor sowings made during March and April will benefit from cloche or fleece covering to both warm the soil and provide shelter from cold conditions, especially at night.”