WembleyWonderful #155 - Growing vegetables in London

Inspiration has been particularly hard to come by recently, as meeting no-one is clearly not conducive to being creative – for me anyway. So here is a repost of an article published a few years ago, very relevant to the season.

After years of frustration of not being able to find proper lettuce in London, I decided it was time to grow my own - about eight years ago. I am a complete gardening amateur and I don’t maintain a vegetable garden on a regular basis – just when I happen to have time and really feel the urge to plant in Spring. The children love helping with the planting, seeing our vegetable grow and eventually eat them - even if it is only one radish each like last year (I had no clue each seed gives you one radish only, oh well) …

So if the lockdown has put you in a gardening mood, here are a few tips to get going:

  • How to organise a vegetable patch? In our previous house, I converted one large flower bed , which sat right in front of the terrace, into a vegetable patch. Although it was very handy, it turned out not to be such a good idea from an aesthetic standpoint – except for the summer, vegetable patches tend to be rather bare most of the year, especially if you’re like me and you can’t be bothered to go out gardening in bad weather. In our new home, I’ve (wisely) left flower beds intact and invested into a VegTrug – basically a large, deep, raised planter. Mine has never looked as vegetable-full as the one on the picture but it looks reasonably good even bare, for flat-owner it will fit on a balcony and you can plant quite a few things. Beware – due to its depth you will need A LOT of compost!!! I am actually selling mine if you are interested, as we may be moving houses in a few months (see add above).
  • Were to get you seeds from? Most supermarkets will stock seeds at this time of the year, but they tend to be quite expensive and not necessarily reliable. When I got into my first vegetable growing frenzy, I very experienced gardener friend recommended The Real Seed Catalogue – and this is the real stuff, I would strongly recommend buying your seeds from them! You get zillions of seeds in each bag, there is huge choice for each type of vegetable, each seed is explained in details; and more importantly the seeds grow into vegetable very reliably! In the past we’ve grown lettuces, tomatoes and courgettes with huge success.
  • Isn’t it a bit late to plant now if I’m back to France all summer? Yes, most definitely for tomatoes, not so much for lettuces. But you have the option to buy already germinated plants , which will save you two months! Once again you can find them in most DIY shops and even supermarkets, but I would recommend going to a proper garden centre – this is the one we tend to go, near Stanmore; and this one is 5-minute drive from LIL.

So if I’ve tempted you, enjoy your gardening and (in a few months’ time) your home-grown vegs!