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Growing fruit and vegetables

Growing fruit

You can buy fruit trees that have been grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks. This stops them growing too tall so you can reach the fruit more easily. You can grow fruit trees as cordons in a slanting row, or espaliers and fans, perhaps against a wall or fence. Prune them in August to a height that suits you.

Gooseberry plants can be grown on a leg – a single clear stem 60–90 cm (2–3 feet) high. This saves you bending down to pick them. Strawberries are easier to gather if they’re grown through holes in a barrel or in hanging baskets.

Growing vegetables

If you want to grow tomatoes and courgettes outside but your soil isn’t good enough, you can use growbags. Growbags that have been used for growing tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse can be used the following year for salad crops such as lettuce, radishes, spring onions and beetroot.

Place growbags on a bench if it’s easier to reach them. Many fruit and vegetables can also be grown in hanging baskets which can make them easier to tend and harvest.

Try the deep-bed method for an easier way of growing vegetables.

The deep-bed method

The deep-bed method a labour-saving way of growing vegetables. You may need help to dig the plot to start with, but then you won’t need to do any more digging for several years.

Divide the plot into strips 1.2 m (4 feet) wide, separated by paved paths. Dig the ground over well, adding manure, peat or well-made garden compost into each trench. Don’t walk over the soil after this stage. You can do all cultivation, planting, weeding, feeding and harvesting from the paths using long-handled tools. Because the soil isn’t compacted, you can sow more root crops than normal – the growing plants push each other sideways in the easily crumbled soil. You don’t need to sow in rows, and planting many seeds will make it harder for weeds to grow.

You’ll need to lay more manure on the surface during the following autumn. Worms and the winter weather will work the manure down into the soil, and light cultivation in the spring will make sure it’s fully mixed in.

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