Courgette Flower

Best Veg For Grilling On The BBQ

Grow Your Own Tasty Veg

There’s nothing more satisfying than popping out to the garden to pick fresh ingredients for your dinner. Lightly barbecued vegetables picked fresh from your plot make alfresco meals all the more delicious. Grow these easy veggies in pots or beds & borders for fabulous flavours & added colour, follow these simple instructions.

PEPPERS IN POTS

Compact chilli plants fruit prolifically, while sweet peppers produce fewer but larger fruits.

Get started Buy potted plants in early summer, or sow seeds indoors in early March in a heated propagator at 20°C. Keep young plants inside in a sunny position until there is no danger of frost. Harden them off for a week by placing them outside by day and bringing them in at night, then plant them out.

Care Pot on young plants into larger containers. Chillies can be part of a mixed planting scheme, but sweet peppers are better as single subjects. Tie pepper stems to bamboo canes for support. Keep plants well watered and feed weekly with tomato fertiliser when flowers appear.

Harvest Cut a few fruits off before they’re ripe, to encourage more to form. Surplus chillies can be dried or frozen.

COURGETTES

Grow at least two plants in full sun in well-drained soil, allowing 45-60cm (18-24in) between plants. To grow in containers, choose compact varieties and a pot at least 30cm (12in) in diameter for each plant.

Get started In early June push three seeds into a mound of soil, or multipurpose compost in a pot. When the seedlings emerge, remove the two weakest ones. Alternatively, buy young plants. For an earlier crop, you can sow seeds in pots indoors in May, and harden them off (see peppers) in June after the frosts have passed. After planting outside, protect plants with a double layer of garden fleece or a cloche for a few days, then remove it to allow insects to pollinate the flowers.

Care Water every couple of days, and feed weekly with tomato fertiliser. Cut off any rotting fruit and leaves that have mildew.

Harvest Start cutting fruits when they are 6in (15cm) long. Wear gloves, as the plants are spiny. Harvest daily to encourage more crops.

SWEETCORN

You need a square metre of ground in a sunny, sheltered spot to grow a block of nine plants.

Get started In April, sow seeds indoors at 15°C or warmer in deep pots or root trainers. Harden off plants (see peppers) before planting outside once there are no more frosts.

Care Dig over the soil to a spade’s depth and remove any weeds. Rake it level and plant out, leaving 30-35cm (12-14in) between plants. Cover them with a cloche or a double layer of garden fleece for a few days until they settle. When flowering begins in July, soak the ground and tap the spiky tassels at the top of the plants so pollen falls onto the silks below. Mound the soil around the bottom of the stems to stop wind from knocking them over.

Harvest When silks turn brown at the end of the ears, peel back the leaves and pierce a kernel. If the juice looks milky they’re ready. Cut off the cobs with secateurs, remove the leaves and cook while they’re sweet.

ASPARAGUS

Asparagus plants last for many years, so set aside a bed for them. You need an area 90cm (3ft) wide and 90cm (3ft) long for three plants.

Get started Buy dry crowns in March or potted plants in summer. Dig over the soil and remove all weeds. Dig a trench 25cm (10in) deep, and make a ridge at the bottom. Space the crowns 40cm (16in) apart on the ridge and spread out the roots. Cover with soil.

Care Keep the bed weed-free and water during dry spells. The following March, apply a balanced fertiliser or mulch with manure or compost. By the end of April, spears will appear, but cut just a few at this stage. Also apply a high-nitrogen fertiliser.

Harvest Cut the spears when they are 10cm (4in) long with a tight bud.

HERBS

Buy a pot or two of thyme, chives and oregano for a good supply of leaves all summer, and sow seeds of parsley and basil as follows:

Get started From April, sow three or four seeds in 8cm (3.5in) pots indoors in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill. Basil needs a temperature of 21-25°C until germinated; parsley prefers 15-18°C and takes about two weeks to germinate. Sow every month until August.

Care Harden off parsley and basil plants in June (see peppers). Transplant basil into 15cm (6in) pots, and pinch out the growing tips when plants are 15cm (6in) high. Thyme, oregano and parsley can be grown together in large containers, but basil is best planted on its own. Keep the compost moist.

Harvest Cut small amounts as soon as the plants are growing well; most leaves have more flavour before plants start flowering. Thyme, oregano and parsley are hardy, but basil blackens after frosts, so bring pots indoors and keep them on a sunny windowsill in winter.

So you don't need a garden to grow your own veg, just a pot on a patio or balcony will do. Choose compact varieties and you can have fresh veg all summer! 

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer so always used to producing something from the earth, whether it was animals or garden produce. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I also keep a few hens and grow vegetables for my own personal use. I gained a BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management. As a result of this I have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening.