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Hello! I’m Katherine Crouch, BBC Gardener of The Decade. Today I’m going to show you how to make a small vegetable patio planter. 20 years ago I used to grow all sorts of vegetables in a lovely vegetable garden much like this one, but now I only live in a tiny house with not much space.
I’m going to show you just how mucg you can grow in one square metre. Right we have got our tools ready, our plants, compost and patio planter bag, let’s get started! I’ve chosen this location because it faces South-East and is going to get the sun nearly all day. It just goes behind this garage gable end at about 3 O’clock. What do I need? Let’s grab some scissors and get the compost in. Pack the corners first so it helps the whole thing to stand up properly. I’m just going to put this log here to give the sides extra support so I can use a couple of extra inches of compost. The more compost, the bigger the root system, the bigger the plant, the more there is to eat! It is worth spending a little time at this stage getting your compost nicely compacted and absolutely level. When you water you are not going to find that the watering can tips all of the water into one corner of the planter. Also if you start off level and you plant all of your seeds the same depth then they will all come up at the same time. I’ve got these Hazel canes that I took from someones hedge in the winter, I’m going to make a rustic support for Runner Beans and some French Beans. Although we only have an area 800mm by 800mm to grow our salads, actually there is no limit to how far we can go up. So we are going to have some verticle gardening aswell as horizontal. Ok, we are ready to start planting our planter bag. I’m going to start off at the back and work forwards. I’m going to put some Runner Beans behind the sticks because there is a few inches of planting space there. Firm them in. That one is a bit of a scrawny one, I’ll put it to one side. These plants look much nicer. Don’t worry about having to tie them into the canes, they will sort themselves out and twine up the canes. If you end up with two going up one cane just unwrap it and persuade it in the right direction. Now for some herbs, I’ve got here a Bronze Fennel plant. This plant, if left to its own devices in the garden would grow to a four foot giant amd really take over. In a planter I think it will be a little less vigorous. This is a lovely anissed flavoured herb. Lovely in salads and lovely with fish. Lets plant some Oregano. This is a nice spicey perrenial herb. It is OK in a salad but even better as an addition to marinade for barbequeing meat or fish. It is also nice in soups and stews. It doesn’t grow too tall, so I am going to have this nearer to the front. I’ve got a little Golden Thyme. This is fairly low growning, also good for barbeque marinades. It is decorative aswell and doesn’t grow very tall so we are going to put it nearer the front. I’m not planting to any particular pattern, these things will sort themselves out quite nicely. Now for some Garlic Chives, just to add a little bit of garlic taste if you snip a few leaves into a salad. No herb patch is complete without some Parsley, it is the most versatile herb. Let’s take these old yellow leaves off. This is good for salads, for garnishes, bbq’s, put some on garlic bread, I just could not be without this herb.
If you have a root ball like this that is a little bit congested, don’t be afraid to break it up with your fingers to persuade the roots to get out into the compost. Lets put it over here. I’m packing them in fairly closely, and there is a good reason for that. You are going to be picking them regularly, so they are not going to get too congested. It also means the area will get covered with foliage like an umbrella. That will stop the soil drying out. Basil is a hot season plant, very spicey and is traditionally used in Italian cooking, good with pasta, in marinades and with salads. I’ve got some lettuce here, you can plant these and either eat them one leaf at a time or wait until the hole thing is firm to the touch and cut the whole lot off. Lets put a few of these in. Plant these a little bit deeper that they were in the containers otherwise when the soil settles they might be left high and dry. The soil will settle after you water them in. I’ve also got some really lovely Loose Leaf Lettuce, this is a frilly variety that is a lovely addition to salads for the look aswell as the taste. We’ll put some of those in the other side. I’ve also got some Rainbow Chard, this is a big version of Spinach and it is a dual purpose vegetable. You can cut the leaves and use them like Spinach. Ordinary Spich tends to go to seed quickly when grown in a container, this doesn’t. The leaves of these are all different colours, I’m going to pick out these nice red ones. I’ll put them near the back as they do tend to get to quite a big size. They can cuddle up next to the beans. I have got a mixture of salad leaves, lettuces, mustards and rocket. We can grow this from seed but it’s nice to have a head start. I think I am going to break that up into about four pieces and put them over on this side. Gently pull the root ball apart, gently persuade the leaves apart. I’m going to put these right round the back of the canes. By the time these have gone to seed the beans will be covering them. As the beans haven’t really got going there is no reason we can’t take advantage of these last back 6 inches of space. That way we are going to be using every square inch of our planter. I’ve also got an ordinary Chive plant, very similar to the Garlic Chives but without that garlicky whiff, just a little bit of onion kick. Not a lot of people know that the Chive flower heads are edible aswell. They look as if the would be quite papery, but actually they are very juicey. They are a lovely shade of purple and make a really nice garnish to salads. Press them in firmly. So that the roots have a good firm contact. French Beans can get to a good foot high and if we put them to the edge of the container then there is every chance that they will fall out over the side for want of space. We have a lovely root system here, there are several plants here. Again, like the salad I will gently break them apart. These are the dwarf beans, they won’t climb. There is nothing nicer than a bean that has been freshly picked and nothing worse than one that has gone over and been picked too late. I’m going to open that out so that it makes a row of beans. Let’s tuck them in along the side here. Don’t worry if you get some compost onto the plants you have planted already because that will wash off when we water. You know we are going to wash the salad anyway. Firm them in nicely. I’m going to see if we can get these Yellow BEans to cohabit with the Runner Beans. We’ve only got 5 Runner Beans in there, but there is every chance we could possibly persuade two beans up one pole. I’m going to put two of these Runner Beans seeds by each pole in case one gets muched I’ll still have another one. I’ve only got to push them down with my thumb, you could use a dibber but I find that for beans it is best just to push them in with your thumb. Let’s have some. . . radishes for a quick crop! Radishes are one of the easiest things to grow, but not neccessarily the favourites of children to eat. This is a mixed lot of radishes, long ones, short ones, round ones, pink ones, white ones. The trick with radishes is that you must grow them on fairly fast and keep them watered. If you let them dry out they will go pithy and very hot tasting. Let’s use our little dibber. I’m just going to press a couple of rows here, very roughly. Just lay a little shallow trench. The reason I put them in rows is because if we get any weeds, the weeds don’t come up in rows so you tell which is which. Sprinkle them in not very far apart, about an inch apart is plenty. You don’t need to but tonnes in. What I’m also going to do is also plant some carrots in the same drill. What will happen in 6 weeks these raddishes will be ready to eat, but the carrots will take a little bit longer. We will put in the resistor fly, they are a stump rooted carrot so it shouldn’t hit the deck. Plant these very very sparse, because if you plamt them very close togther you will just have to thin them. You want them atleast an inch apart otherwise you get some very scrawny roots. When you pull them out, the scent of the foliage being disturbed is what attracts the carrot root fly. So if you can avoid thinning them you will have less problems. Hello cat, are you coming to help? Do you like carrots? Again, just a very very gentle trickle of just one or two. What will happen is that your raddishes will mature much faster than the carrots. So gentle take the radishes out and let the carrots grow on. This way you get two crops in one space. Just cover these seeds over. You only need to plant them fairly shallow, no more than half an inch deep. And now I’m just going to press them down. Fold the top over your packet, so that they don’t escape. Later in the season when these lettuces have matured, let’s say in July, you will be able to plant more of these and have successions of delicous crops. In the corners I am going to plant strawberries. Admittedly you are not going to get much of a crop out of four plants. You can see here these are already flowered and pollinated. But it is so lovely to pop out and pick a fresh strawberry, warm in the sun, it won’t even make it to the kitchen for a garnish, I promise you! You will just want to eat it staight away, you will never taste anything so delicous. We are going to put those in the front corners, so I’ll take out a little bit of compost there. They will have a tendancy to flop over, but that’s fine because then they are not taking up the room inside my planter. This is a tough and vigorous variety that stays desease free. Lets grow some red salad bowl lettuce, this is a cut and come again form. The leaf is almost like a bronze tipped Oak leaf. Shake your seed down to the bottom of the packet and tear accross the top. Again, we’ll use our diibber. We’ll make a couple of lines, we’ll keep them shallow. The smaller the seed the shallower they need to be. We really don’t need to use that many, we only want to end up with half a dozen plants so there is no point using 100 seeds. It’s May now, the compost will warm up in no time atall. With warmth and light and moisture they will grow like anything. I think we still have room for the odd betroot. Not everybody likes betroot but I absolutely love it, raw grated into a salad is very nice and boiled is equally nice. This is an F1 variety, very even very round roots. We can harvest these when they are only the size of a golf ball. They are a relative of spinch and are very similar to the chard that we planted at the back, and you can eat the leaves in salad aswell. I’m going to put them in just a little row here, and again only a few seeds. I’m putting them in about an inch apart, and I’ll probably thin them out to every two inches. We’ve also got a few spaces inbetween our herbs, and I dare say we can intercrop with a few more. When they come up they will come up with quite a distinctive red vained leaf so you know what it is, it’s not actually a weed. Ok, even though the compost is damp I’m going to water the plants in to make sure that we haven’t got any air pocketsthat the poor roots are hanging up in. It ensures the soil is settled down, washes the muck off the leaves and gets our new planting off to a really good start. So here is our completed planter bag, with herbs and vegetables for your pleasure all summer long. For more gardening tips and gardening sites and garden tools, go to silverlinetools. com.