Salads are some of the easiest veg to grow. You can sow them in pots, troughs or in the ground as the weather warms up. I sow a few mixed salad seeds every month to make sure that I have a succession of leaves all summer.
Sow a few seeds thinly in a pot or straight into the ground and lightly cover them with compost or soil. After a few weeks they should germinate. As your seedlings grow, pick and eat the leaves when they’re young. Graze little and often to keep the plants producing. Make sure the ground or pot doesn’t dry out.
Take a tip
It is well worth pinching out the tops of young bedding plants – fuchsias, pelargoniums and cosmos are a few favourites that respond well to this.
What we’re looking for is well branched, bushy young plants – if we don’t remove the tips of the plants they tend to become “leggy” and too tall for this time of year. Take a pair of scissors and remove the shoot tip and about two or three leaves.
Although this seems harsh, all the lower buds of the plant will then respond by bursting into new shoots. This leads to more leaves and then many more flowers for the summer. Remember to keep your bedding plants in a frost-free place until the end of May after the risk of frost has gone.
Ginger in a pot
Our tastes and the sort of food that we grow change in keeping with food trends. This year why not try some home-grown ginger? It’s so easy to get hold of a piece of ginger root from the fresh produce section of a supermarket. Take a small pot and fill with peat-free compost.
Trim your piece of ginger to fit the pot (ideally 5-10cm) and half bury the root in the soil. Water it well and place the pot on a sunny windowsill. In a few weeks, when you get a green shoot emerging, keep it well watered. Ginger likes a warm, sunny spot and in mid-June the plant can live outside. As the root grows, move it on to a larger pot and you’ll have your own fresh ginger by autumn.
Tom Brown is head gardener at West Dean Gardens, West Sussex