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Beth Otway’s Exciting Vegetables to Grow Now!

I enjoy the excitement felt at this time of year!  By the middle of March, the window of possibility stretches out before us; we have the opportunity to sow seeds of a wide range of great tasting vegetables.  Here are some of the seeds you can sow this month:

I adore growing herbs.  Super fresh herbs really enhance home-made salads, sandwiches, BBQs…it’s hard to think of any dish that can’t be improved with one herb or another.  Dill ‘Nano’ is a dwarf variety from D.T. Brown that can be sown indoors on your window sill as well as outdoors.  Plants grow up to 30cm (12 inches) tall. https://www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk/Vegetable-Seeds-1/Herb-Seed_2/Dill-Nano-Herb-Seeds.html

Home-grown vegetables taste fantastic, but it’s nice when they look good, too.  This is something you might not have grown before – originally called Brukale, then christened Flower Sprouts, and now with the new name of Kalettes, these brassicas are a new vegetable – a cross between Kale and a Brussels Sprout.  Kalettes work well in a stir fly and they’re delicious steamed.  Sow Kalette seeds in March – if you can, as often the best plants are grown from an earlier sowing.  Mr. Fothergill’s stock Kalette seeds, here’s a link: https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Vegetable-Seeds/Brukale-Petit-Posy-Seeds.html

‘Black Nebula’ carrots are a striking looking vegetable, with a great flavour.  These carrots are the darkest purple in colour; when you pull them up, they look black!  When you cut ‘Black Nebula’ carrots in half, you’ll see they have purple cores with white centres.  Many purple coloured vegetables turn green when they’re cooked, but this carrot retains its gorgeous colour after cooking, when it becomes a more vibrant purple.  Chiltern Seeds stock seeds of ‘Black Nebula’ carrots (and others) here’s a link: https://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item_1736P_carrot_black_nebula

Growing your own lettuces from seed is a great way to save money and reduce plastic.  Chiltern Seeds stock a great packet of mixed lettuce seed, which includes many of the varieties sold in single packs.  Here’s a link: https://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item_1771A_lettuce_mixed

Although I must first say that if you plant asparagus now, it will be three years before your plants will be ready to yield a harvest.  It honestly is worth the wait!  You can’t beat home-grown asparagus; it’s so wonderfully sweet and delicious.

Spring is the perfect time to start an asparagus bed.  When purchasing asparagus, don’t waste time sowing seeds, or you’ll be embarking on an even longer process.  Choose one-year old asparagus crowns, instead.  Maximise your harvest period by growing both an early and a late harvesting asparagus variety.  Mr. Fothergill’s asparagus range includes the early season Greenic and the later season, Guelph Millennium.  Grow both asparagus varieties together for the maximum harvest period.

If you enjoy eating sweeter tasting vegetables or you prefer eating raw vegetables, opt for a purple asparagus.  Mr. Fothergill’s stock the appropriately named, ‘Burgundine’.  https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Vegetable-Plants/Asparagus-Crowns/Asparagus-Burgundine.html  If you’re interested in growing asparagus, you can see Mr. Fothergill’s full asparagus range, here: https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Vegetable-Plants/Asparagus-Crowns/  I’ve written an article with lots of tips for planting asparagus, here’s a link: https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2019/03/treat-yourself-to-asparagus

You might not see these coloured beetroots in the shops, but seeds of purple, red, yellow, orange, and white varieties of beetroot are available for gardeners to grow in their gardens and allotments.  Chiltern Seeds stock the improved variety, ‘Boldor’, an F1 beetroot hybrid; a rather lovely orange coloured round beetroot: https://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item_1710N_beetroot_boldor_f1_hybrid

Broad beans are decorative plants that feature large, rather glamorous flowers that are particularly popular with bumble bees.  The usual types of broad beans you see produce white flowers with inky markings, but crimson flowered broad beans produce exactly that – crimson-magenta coloured flowers, that are decorative enough to grow in an herbaceous border.  The bees seem to enjoy these vibrant coloured flowers as much as they relish the regular broad bean blooms and I can confirm that the beans themselves taste just as delicious.  Kings Seeds offer 50 Crimson Flowered Broad Bean seeds for £1.85, which is the best price I’ve found.  Here’s a link: https://www.kingsseeds.com/Products/Vegetables/Beans/Broad-Bean-Crimson-Flowered

Chillies have a long growing season, so seeds need to be started early.  If you’ve not sown chilli seeds yet, all is not lost.  Why not order some chilli plants?  Mr. Fothergill’s offer a ‘Nicely Spicy Chilli Collection’, which includes a dwarf chilli with lovely glossy red chilli peppers called ‘Apache’, the mild-medium flavoured chilli ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ with its red and yellow chilli peppers, and ‘Fuego’ with its long and tapered, bright pillbox-red coloured chillies.  Here’s a link:   https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Vegetable-Plants/New-Varieties-A-Z/Nicely-Spicy-Chilli-Pepper-Plant-Collection-2.html

You’ll find more gardening advice for the month ahead on my website, www.pumpkinbeth.com.  Where you’ll also discover advice for sowing a meadow and information about plants that are beneficial for bees, butterflies, and pollinating insects.  You’ll find the best composts from my Compost Trials.  Plus, I’ve put together a calendar of plant sales, a list of daffodil gardens and garden events you might like to visit, and of course there’s advice for growing houseplants and orchids, as well as lots of information about terrariums.

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