With a bit a knowledge and the right accessories, you don't need a lot of space to grow veg. Ali Mundie, horticulturist Ali Mundie, horticulturalist at Harlow Carr, on the edge of Harrogate, explains

THE kitchen garden is looking particularly good at the moment thanks to the warm weather, and the raised beds are full of luscious veg and flowers.

Of course you don’t need to have an allotment or large garden to enjoy your home-grown veg – a couple of raised beds, some pots and window boxes and it’s possible to grow your own in even the smallest of spaces.

Choose types of veg and varieties to make best use of limited space, and grow expensive-to-buy salads, or unusual veg and it’s really worthwhile.

If you are aiming for ornamental rather than high yield, and space is limited, here are a few things to bear in mind:

Some vegetables are perfect for small spaces: carrots (there is nothing like freshly-picked baby carrots!), shallots, leeks, beetroots and above all salad crops If you choose varieties that don’t get too large and mature quickly - so-called ‘baby’ vegetables - they can be harvested small, and will be tender and full of flavour. Several members of the cabbage family need lots of space and a long growing season so are best avoided, as are perennial vegetables.

Grow in small amounts: sow a few seeds at a time, or plant a few plants, and replace them with more when you harvest. This avoids the ‘carrier bags of runner beans’ phenomenon, also known as a glut. Having plants grown in modules ready to plant out avoids gaps while seeds germinate in the soil, and means a better chance of survival.

Sow and plant in patterns and small groups, as you would for planting flowers – try circles, diagonals and short rows. It is worth remembering, though, that most veg prefer to be in the sun. Growing vegetables among flowers means that pests are less likely to find your crop and makes for an attractive display. For example, onions grown with carrots can help to mask the smell that attracts carrot fly.

To keep an ongoing display, grow in pots sunk into the soil, or on the patio, easily replaced when harvested. Courgettes are good pot subjects, with dramatic foliage and huge yellow flowers – they need a large pot and a lot of water, but one plant will keep you well supplied with courgettes for weeks!

Climbing veg can be used to add height – you can grow beans or peas up willow supports or more modern metal spirals. There are some very attractive varieties with purple pods and flowers in red and white, for example, and heritage varieties often have a long cropping season, ideal for gardens. Window boxes are fine for growing lettuce and other salad crops – just keep an eye on the watering…

Some of the more unusual veg are worth a try: Florence fennel is the bulb-forming version of the well-known herb, with the same attractive foliage. Kohl rabi is a rather odd looking member of the cabbage family that tastes really good grated raw in salads, and only takes 8-10 weeks to grow from seed.

The salads really come into their own as ornamental vegetables - decorative lettuces such as red and green salad bowl, oak leaf types and lollos grown as ‘cut and come again’, so if you harvest just a few leaves from each plant at a time, they will keep on producing for weeks. Include things like corn salad and rocket, also edible flowers such as nasturtium, violas and pot marigolds to jazz up your salads, and of course some herbs.

You may not be able to feed a family from a small garden, but you can produce some great veg, make an attractive display and have fun! Enjoy the feast!

Jobs for the Week

  • If you have netted your cabbages to keep off the butterflies, check to see whether it needs loosening now the plants have grown.
  • Keep sowing seeds! Oriental salads such as mizuna, chrysanthemum greens and pak choi will do well now.
  • Cut sweet peas – they are going over quickly in the hot weather!