Sunny days and April showers

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 9 April 2016.

Time to prepare to grow some fruit and veg that will be good for you, the environment (no food miles), and fun. My Dad started me off with a packet of radish seed: nothing has tasted so good. Start enjoying those sunny days!

Even a little space can grow something good.

Clear a windowsill for a seed tray or pots on a tray. Or make a space near a doorway or patio for a big pot on a pot saucer, a grow bag on a tray or a raised veg bed or box. Garden centres and stores sell all you need. Some refuse collection sites offer recycled flower pots (clean old pots with hot soapy water before you use them).

Plants are just germinating by Dennis Brown. Shared under licence CC BY-SA 3.0
Plants are just germinating by Dennis Brown. Shared under licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunny days or not, make a vegetable plot

If there is room in your garden, make a vegetable plot. A one metre square is a good start. If you are keen, an old BBC programme called ‘Dig This!’, suggested that a well planned space 3m by 3.5m could provide a range of family veg all year. What’s not to like?

Sunny days at Mill Cottages by Rebecca Beeston [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Sunny days at Mill Cottages by Rebecca Beeston [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Ideally your veg plot will be in a sunny spot and easy to reach with watering cans.

Mark the shape of the plot using sticks in the ground and string.

If you are making a veg bed from your lawn:

  • Starting on one side and working across the plot, push a spade into the grass in straight lines of about 30cm square. Think cutting a cake.
  • Start at one side, push the spade under each square (think lifting cakes from a tray), and lift each square of turf away from your plot. You are left with a bare patch but …
  • Old turf makes good garden compost so it’s going to a good home: come back to future blogs, and store it in a pile out of your way.

If your veg bed is cut from a flower bed, shrubby area or that piece of the garden you never quite got to:

  • Clear the weeds with a good fork
  • Dig down to remove deep roots or brambles
  • Carefully dig up plants you want to keep, keeping some soil around their roots, and plant them in their new home
  • Put weeds and roots in the green bin for refuse collection.

And wherever you started:

  • Use a good spade and dig a trench, the width and depth of the spade, at one end of your bed, heaping the soil at the other end
  • Work across the plot, digging a strip about 10cm wide along the trench, tipping the soil into the trench
  • Roughly level the ground with a fork or rake.

Make the edges of the plot clear: use a spade or half moon cutter (see our next blogs on the tools you need). Or use commercial edging strips along the edges, the top level with the ground around. Or make the plot into a raised bed – garden centres sell kits or use recycled timber.

Later this month you start filling the space you created, so come back to the blog for ideas!


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