Growing Vegetables in a Small Garden by Geoff Hawkins

“Growing Vegetables in a Small Garden” was the subject of a talk by Geoff Hawkins, an experienced gardener, broadcaster and consultant. The particular benefit is that such vegetables will be fresh, but another is interest, as you can be creative in maximizing a limited space, using all manner of containers: bags, pots, boxes, even tyres, as well as planters et al found in recycling centres. Planting can in raised beds, in wall hanging containers, on a ladder-like frame, even in gutters, as well as in the ground. That needs digging to aerate, remove perennial weeds and on the surface good organic material that the earthworms will take down and improve the soil. Whatever the situation light and shelter are important, but particularly in containers regular watering is essential, so a raised water butt helps.
Geoff starts seeds off in cell trays, then transplants, and aims for continual and successional but not excessive sowing, using a four year crop rotation plan. He recommends looking for the F1 and AGM symbol in the catalogues and the Heritage Seed Library. Good compost and organic fertilizers such as Vitax Q4 and those with a John Innes base, are sound choices, Propagators and a well ventilated greenhouse would give additional benefits.
In effect most vegetables, according to personal choice, can be grown in small spaces.

Beetroot and carrots: start in cell trays. Parsnip seeds are sometimes difficult to germinate, so in a warm spot mix the soil with vermiculite, water, add the seed and cover. Gladiator F1 variety. Swede and turnip.
Brassicas, use clubroot – resistant varieties. Brussels sprouts. Cabbages , Savoy and Chinese: Hispi F1 (AGM) and Minicole F1 are small and compact. Calabrese: Belstar F1, Fiesta F1. Use netting! Cauliflower: Gypsy, Clapton. Kale – Pavilion. Kohl rabi.
Salad plants, Lettuce: Cos and Little Gem. Butterhead and Loose Leaf , plant in 4 inch pots. Spinach. Salad onions, start in cell trays, then plant out. Radish, including “Mooli” – very large. Tomatoes, many varieties, effective grown in hanging baskets as well as pots. Two “best for flavour” are Brandywine (a Beefsteak), and Gardener’s Delight (cordon grown).
Legumes, peas (though commercially grown ones are quickly frozen so are very fresh). French Beans. Broad Beans: Sutton. Runner Beans, keep picking them to encourage more; 2 or 3 sowings per season are possible.
Others: Potatoes, many varieties. Use good soil and can be grown in sacks or tubs. Onions, Geoff prefers sets. Shallots, Garlic, Leeks, Asparagus, Sweetcorn, Courgettes. Squash, grow them on tripods. Herbs, in a variety of containers.

A final slide showed an array of vegetables as colourful as any display of flowers. This was a talk packed with information, delivered with characteristic humour and enthusiasm and well received by Geoff’s audience.