Imagine being able to pop out the back door to pick your five-a-day. This small garden is just 10 square metres, but it proves that size is no barrier when it comes to growing vegetables.
The five-a-day garden was created by UK garden specialist Burgon & Ball in collaboration with RHS Wisley Plant Centre. The company set out to show just what can be achieved in a small space, when every surface is maximised.
Crops were chosen for their popularity, ease of growing, and for their suitability to be grown in containers and raised beds. The team also considered the return on space investment – crops that take up a lot of room and are likely to be cheap in the stores, such as maincrop potatoes, were excluded.
Key plants include different varieties of lettuce, beans, corn, zucchini, silver beet, tomatoes, cabbage, squash and herbs. Companion plants, such as nasturtiums and marigolds, were included to help minimise garden pests. They also add a welcome splash of colour and attract bees.
Pick and mix – lettuces, silver beet, beans and corn are mixed with nasturtium and decorative violas, which look great on the plate.
Willow containers were specified for many of the garden beds, because they “look lovely and help grow bumper crops”.
The company says raised garden beds have many advantages. Once they have been dug they are never walked upon, so they remain more aerated. They also allow more light and warmth to reach plants, which hastens growth, and of course raised beds make it a lot easier to keep weeds at bay.
But the key points to a successful five-a-day garden are as follows:
* Choose a sheltered spot that has all-day sun.
* Check the garden every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This is the best way to keep an eye out for pests and weeds that should be removed immediately.
* Water the plants low down near the roots. The dense canopy that forms when plants are close together can prevent water from above making its way down to the roots.
* Fertilise the garden regularly. The plants will pull nutrients out of the soil quickly, so you need to replace these. Digging in new compost once a crop has been harvested is recommended.
* Stagger seed planting so you can enjoy continuous crops.
There’s another benefit to a concentrated garden – it’s a great conversation piece and a relaxing place to sit with a morning coffee.