Editor Ruth Hayes is self-isolating - but very thankful to have the garden to escape to in these most strange of time

I can never work out why the fresh supermarket fruit and veg that’s eaten on holiday somewhere sunkissed in the Mediterranean taste so much nicer than the produce you buy in UK shops.

Is it because you’re on holiday and everything seems better, brighter and more delicious, or are they genuinely tastier thanks to all that extra heat and sunshine?

For my money, the only time you’ll get truly tasty fruit and veg in this country is by growing your own. That fresh, clean ‘straight from tilth to table’ taste is impossible to improve upon, and with the current trend for headless-chicken panic buying, there’s never been a better time to try your hand at growing your own.

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Best of all, you don’t need acres of room to do so. We aren’t lucky enough to have an allotment like Les, but we still grow a respectable harvest of onions, shallots and garlic, peas, beans, beetroot and (just planted) asparagus in four smallish raised beds, with rhubarb, soft fruit, herbs and tomatoes and chillies in garden borders and greenhouse growbags. We also have a handful of fruit trees dotted around the garden and tender herbs on the kitchen windowsill.

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In the past we’ve grown salads, potatoes, beetroot, radishes and spring onions in patio containers, and have friends who grow ‘Tumbling Tom’ cherry toms in windowboxes and baskets. Almost anything is possible when you put your mind to it!

Over the past few days the spring sunshine has lured me away from my desk on a regular basis (sorry, editor!) and I’ve been turning my attention to the garden’s edible areas with the reasoning that any work put in now will pay delicious dividends later in the year.

Raspberry canes, chicken manure pellets

Supplementing the raspberry canes with chicken manure pellets.

Starting with the raspberry canes that grow alongside the garden fence, I gave them a good weed then fed them with chicken manure pellets, watered them in and mulched with a mix of homemade and commercial compost.

raspberry canes, mulch, watering

After watering the raspberry canes I gave them a good mulch.

I then ‘puddled-in’ some baby leeks (leeklets?) that I’d potted up for safety when the raised bed they were growing in was relocated to make room for an additional bed.

puddling-in, leeks

Puddling-in the transplanted young leek plants.

Puddling-in is a planting method used to create tender white shafts in your leeks. You make a hole, drop the plantlet in it and then gently fill the hole with water. This carries soil down with it and holds the leeks firm.

I have also harvested the year’s first rhubarb, so roll on weeks of pies, puddings, crumbles and chutney – or ‘rhubarba marmelada’ as it’s called in in the Hayes household for some totally forgotten reason!

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News in Brief

  • Mr Fothergill’s (mr-fothergills.co.uk) has been in touch with a statement regarding its order and delivery system. The company is experiencing a surge in online and postal sales, along with increased sales in garden centres and other seed outlets. However, there is plenty of stock at present, though orders may take a little longer to arrive. Should stocks fall, there are bulk seed stocks in temperature-controlled storage that can be quickly packed and dispatched. Most of the company’s office-based staff are now working from home and smaller packing teams are working around the clock to keep on top of orders.

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If there’s something you would like me to talk about, just email us at. amateurgardening@ti-media.com. And don’t forget to let us know what you are doing and how you are coping; send us your thoughts and pictures and we will put them online and in the magazine. You can purchase individual copies of Amateur Gardening magazine without having to leave your home simply go to https://www.magazinesdirect.com/single-issue/ or of course you can take out a subscription and never miss an issue! Subscribe here.

Stay safe everyone out there and come back to the blog for more advice over the coming days and weeks.