Gardening Column: It's time to introduce some edible plants into your garden

May is the month when everything gets busy in the garden and even the most relaxed of gardeners become inspired, writes columnist Sara Milne.

By Sara Milne
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 11:00 am

Plant growth is steaming ahead with seeds germinating, plants and shrubs bursting into flower and annual weeds popping up. It’s also a time to think about introducing some edible plants into your garden and there are plenty of easy ways to enjoy full-flavoured crops, even when space is tight.

For novice gardeners, focus on herbs. It doesn’t take long to grow herbs from seed, and if you get sowing now then you will have them to enjoy throughout the summer.

Parsley, coriander and dill can all be sown directly in the soil this month and you will be able to harvest them from July onwards. Basil is best sown indoors in pots, but again you will be able to take your pick of its leaves from July.

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May is the month when everything gets busy in the garden, says columnist Sara Milne.

If you have a semi-shaded spot in your garden you could try growing a selection of cut-and-come-again salad leaves. Not only delicious to eat, they will save you having to buy bags of salad from the supermarket – which means you will also be cutting down on plastic packaging.

Once the salad leaves are 10cm tall – which will be in about three to four weeks – snip them off with scissors to just above ground level and they will re-sprout for a second or third time. If you give them some liquid plant food after each harvest they will re-grow more rapidly.

Dwarf French Beans is the veg that keeps on giving during the summer months. As long as you pick them as soon as they are ready they will keep on cropping all summer long.

They need good fertile soil, so make sure you dig in some compost, and climbing varieties need canes for support.

Gardening columnist Sara Milne

Young plants can be planted out at the end of May or you can sow seeds now directly into the soil where you want them to grow, at 20cm intervals. Water the soil when it gets dry and if you sow a second batch next month you can alternate picking beans between the two all summer.

If you’re new to growing vegetables, beetroot is a good, easy-to-grow option. The seeds don’t need much encouragement to germinate and they require little maintenance once established. Being a root crop, beetroot does best if the soil is free of large stones.

The same is true of carrots. If you want carrots with plenty of flavour, it’s definitely worth growing your own.

Finally, for a touch of colour try some edible flowers - they can be grown from seed and are easy to sow. Nasturtiums seeds are simply pushed straight into soil in spring or summer and the flowers taste a touch peppery. Pot Marigolds are also sown at this time of year and their orange flowers have a zingy citrus flavour.

Top three jobs this month: watch out for late frosts and protect tender plants, earth up potatoes and plant any that you might still have and plant out summer bedding at the end of the month (except in cold areas).

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