Britain is a nation of gardeners, and the country’s obsession with our homes’ outdoor spaces is famous the world over.
And in recent years the economic crisis has helped create a whole new generation of gardening fanatics as people rein in their spending and try and save money by growing their own vegetables at home.
Not only can growing your own veg save you money, it’s also very good for you, helping to lower blood pressure and keep the body fit and active.
Here are eight of the best vegetables to plant now, in May, and which should then be ready to pick throughout the summer. They’ve been chosen for ease of growing and planting, as well as longevity of fruiting:
- Tomatoes – There’s nothing better than a juicy ripe tomato. As we’re already into May, you’ll need to buy seedlings. Prepare your stakes and trellises for the plants to grow up and bury them deep, planting at least two-thirds of the plant’s stem. This gives strong roots and longer fruiting. Cherry tomatoes work better if your garden isn’t extremely sunny.
- Snap beans – Gardeners often say snap beans are just about the easiest vegetable to grow. Buy a bushy plant variety to avoid having to use stakes and ties.
- Beetroot – Beetroot is fantastically good for the blood and immune system. Boiled or roasted, with a white or cheese sauce, or grated in salads, they taste amazing. Sow the seeds directly into moist ground from now to July and you’ll be harvesting beetroot until September.
- Broad beans – Utterly delicious either steamed and drizzled with olive oil, or cold in salads, broad beans offer bumper fruiting throughout the summer. Plant directly into the ground (although the purists would start them in small pots of compost), enjoy the flowers they produce, and then pick from June onwards.
- Mint – Mint is hard to beat; with boiled new potatoes, in soups and salads, or even in cocktails, it’s just delicious. And it’s easy to grow as it’s so vigorous once it gets started. Mint takes hold voraciously in just about any soil that’s fairly moist, or at least kept moist with watering. It’s also great for the digestive system.
- Radishes – As with beetroot, the peppery-tasting English radish is great for the blood and general health. It’s extremely easy to grow; just sow throughout the summer for a succession of delightfully crunchy crops.
- Chard – Chard is a somewhat lesser known cousin of spinach, but just as full of iron and goodness. A few chard plants can produce a huge amount of lovely, tender greens. Sow straight into the ground now and harvest from June all summer.
- Rocket and other salads – Rocket’s such a wonderful salad leaf, although plenty of other varietals will do just as well. Or you could simply grow a mix of leaves in a ‘salad bed’, one row after the other. This keeps it easier for watering purposes as salad vegetables are thirsty plants.
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James is a journalist and digital editor with over 13 years’ experience writing and editing for media and finance businesses. He specialises in personal finance and economics, but also covers property, travel and news.