Now that spring is here, there's no better time to get outside. Yet every year we are all faced with a big question of what to plant...
With more people taking an interest in cooking and healthy eating, more gardens are becoming good enough to eat. Both children and adults can get involved in growing vegetables but where to start is often a stalling block.
Most people wrongly believe that you need a vast amount of space but that just isn't the case. Peas and runner beans grow upwards and can be attached to a trellis adding height to gardens. Even though fresh pods picked cannot be eaten, the flowers and young shoots add great flavour to dishes.
Some of the most obvious plants to include in a garden are herbs. As well as smelling beautiful, herbs can be used in cooking and are versatile, with the option of being planted in a number of places. When planted, herbs can also flower - chives have pink, rosemary create pale blue flowers and lavender with its dusky purple flowers.
Dill and fennel are also great to immerse into your garden as the dense foliage can be used in cooking. Fennel has a wonderful aniseed flavour and you can use the whole plant in recipes. Similarly, rosemary is a small shrub, which can be planted in any gap and gives off a fabulously woody scent. Rosemary is originally from the Mediterranean so needs sunlight however it's very hardy even for our climate, so can last for years with little attention.
Globe artichokes grow really well whatever your soil type and are low maintenance. They work brilliantly as an architectural plant and when you're hungry simply pick the plant heads and lightly griddle them on a barbeque. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and salt and you have the perfect accompaniment to your meal. Likewise, asparagus is a plant few people would think to plant but not only does it look unusually fabulous, it tastes amazing. Rather than planting it from seed, plant a year-old crown in spring and you'll get a good crop of asparagus in early summer.
2015 saw the edible flower trent soar with high-street stores selling them and restaurants decorating meals with them. Nasturtiums are some of the best-known edible flowers, with their peppery leaves a great addition to salads. Pansies and violas are also popular. Available in a multitude of colours, they are a great way to add a splash of colour to empty areas in flowerbeds and make great garnishes to savoury dishes or when candied, pretty decorations to cakes.
Unfortunately salad leaves are the trickiest item to grow, as similar to us, slugs love eating the crunchy leaves. So instead of working endlessly to keep the pests at bay, why not get your leaves fresh from the shop - after all you've grown everything else...