Growing vegetables from seed saves you money plus there’s a wider variety of plants to choose from, says veggie expert Jane Griffiths.
Jane’s pick of the easiest veggies to grow from seed sown in situ:
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Squash (zucchini, patty pans and gem squash) are prolific and easy to grow.
PLANTING POINTERS: Squash benefit from being planted in a mound. Don’t overcrowd them otherwise they can suffer from mildew. They require full sun, well-drained, fertile soil and ample, consistent water.
GROWING TIPS: As they’re heavy feeders, enrich both the soil below and the mound with compost. Water them using drip irrigation rather than from above. In limited spaces use a trellis or a tripod and twine them upwards.
HARVESTING: Harvest when still small otherwise they become watery. The more you harvest, the more they produce.
There are two varieties – bush and pole beans.
PLANTING POINTERS: Bush beans mature more quickly, but produce most of their harvest in one go. Pole beans need a support and will bear over a longer period than the bush varieties.
GROWING TIPS: In hot gardens that experience temperatures over 32°C, provide shade for the plants.
HARVESTING: Pick beans young and regularly. Leave some pods to reach full size and pick when dry; save the seeds for next spring.
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Loose-leafed lettuce (such as oakleaf) is easier to grow than heading-type lettuces.
PLANTING POINTERS: Lettuces need consistent moisture and benefit from being planted closely together. Mix different varieties together to create a colourful display; use taller plants to create shade for the others.
GROWING TIPS: Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of soil – too thick a layer and they won’t germinate. In warmer weather, when lettuces go to seed quickly, do successive sowing more frequently and sow in areas with afternoon shade.
HARVESTING: Harvest by picking leaves from various plants, leaving sufficient for each plant to keep producing. Leave some to flower and form seeds – they will happily reseed themselves.
With hardy and unfussy Swiss chard in your garden, you’ll never be without fresh greens, even in the middle of winter.
PLANTING POINTERS: ‘Bright Lights’ with its vivid yellow, orange and red stems adds incredible colour to the garden.
GROWING TIPS: The ‘seed’ is actually a cluster of seeds and so the seedlings will need to be thinned out. They self-seed without any help.
HARVESTING: Harvest the outside leaves as needed, cutting about 5cm from the ground.