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Grow your own edible garden

01:00 Sun 31st Dec 2000 |

By Tom Gard

THERE is little better than eating your own home-grown vegetables, straight from the ground onto the kitchen table.

However, many of us with small gardens don't feel we can afford the space to grow our own veg, especially as, unlike with flowers, you have to pick them as they reach their prime. But, vegetables�can add a great deal of colour and form.

Many vegetable plants have rich colouring, intricate and beautiful foliage and are easy to grow from seed. With clever interplanting, they can enhance and compliment borders, make for spectacular containers, or become a feature in a small raised bed in a prominent part of the garden.

Think of carrots and you tend to think of the business end, the orange root buried underground. But that is only half the story. The fine, feathery green leaves above the earth look excellent group planted among flowers.

Fennel has similar, if taller, foliage, yellow flowers and attractive and tasty bulbous stems. What about courgettes �These plants have broad, jagged leaves and big yellow funnel-like flowers that, believe it or not, are delicious when flash fried in a very light batter.

For dramatic colour, what about the rich scarlet stems and green leaves of Ruby Chard or the frilly purple of the lettuce Lollo Rosso

These are just a few suggestions, with many other colourful and delicious vegetables being revived year on year by seed merchants.

People have been growing tomatoes in containers for years, but there are plenty of other options. Sweet peppers, chilli's and aubergines are a bit different and will all grow happily in pots given a sunny position on the patio or decking.

You don't often see beans grown in small gardens, but they are also well worth a look. French and runner beans are easy to grow and will happily climb trellis, an arch or wigwam. They have attractive flowers, from deep red through to white, and can be interplanted with sweet peas to sustain the colour throughout the summer.

Squashes are increasingly popular these days and there are varieties, such as custard and butternut, that can be trailed up a pergola or through wire against a wall. They are not only delicious cooked, fried or boiled, but the fruits are often spectacular colours.

Have you managed to produce a bumper crop in a small space or do you have any recommendations Click here to share your experiences.

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