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View from the Vegetable Patch: Bean there, grown that… even with limited space there’s plenty to cultivate

Broad beans are easy to grow – and they are delicious
Broad beans are easy to grow – and they are delicious

Broad beans that are large enough to be planted out should have their tips removed to deter blackfly. These tips are a tasty addition to stir fries, so don’t let them go to waste.

You can start sowing carrots and peas direct but if you are sowing lettuce then do it during a damp or shady spell as high temperatures can inhibit germination.

Now that my tomato plants have turned up and the seeds in the propagator have germinated, I’ve gone from having no tomatoes to now facing a glut.

I don’t have room for any more under cover, but if you’ve only managed to get hold of one or two plants then you can make more by potting up the sides shoots, which will quickly root and give you more plants.

During recent warm spells it’s been essential to keep on top of watering, but you can reduce the amount of evaporation in the veg garden by hoeing between rows and mulching with grass clippings, which will also help suppress weeds.

In the greenhouse it’s essential to ventilate on hot days but remember to close the vents at night because, even in May, there can be frost.

If you don’t have much space for growing vegetables then you can make the most of what you have by growing speedy crops such as radishes and lettuce alongside things such as potatoes and runner beans, which take much longer to grow.

Another way to increase yields is by mounding up soil to increase the surface area of your plot or by planting in triangles instead of rows, which makes better use of space.

Some gardeners swear by a method called “square foot gardening”, which uses raised beds divided into equal sections and with different crops planted in each square. As soon as one crop is harvested it is replaced by something else, creating a continuous supply of vegetables.

You don’t need to invest in expensive, pre-made containers – if you are handy with a hammer and nails then you can create your own square foot garden from old pallets or reclaimed wood, making a grid from offcuts to fit over the top.

Or if you want to get growing really fast, then you can simply cover a section of lawn with cardboard, heap soil or compost on top of it, and start planting into it without any fuss.

Just make sure that you keep it well watered.