US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ditched politics in favour of gardening gloves over the weekend, revealing that she’s tending to a community garden plot for the next few months.
“What should I plant?” she asked her Twitter followers, adding that ideally she’d like to have “at least one edible thing” but also some flowers.
More than 7000 people offered up their tips in response, among them Labour leader and allotment lover, Jeremy Corbyn. AOC later shared photos of a planter filled with lavender, dahlias, sage, coriander, rosemary and spinach.
For those, like AOC, who are new to the allotment or veggie patch game (or simply in need of garden inspiration), we asked the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for some tips for easy-to-grow and hard-to-kill fruits, veggies and flowers.
Here’s what chief horticulturist Guy Barter recommends (with some easy links to click and buy if you’re feeling inspired).
“Salads are absurdly expensive in shops, but quick and easy to grow from cheap seed,” says Barter.
Runner beans keep growing until the autumn frosts – “a wigwam of 1.8m canes or sticks covering 1.5sq metres can be enough for one household,” Barter says. If runners seem a little coarse, he advises trying climbing French beans for “succulent delicate pods”.
Courgette plants can produce lots of produce so Barter advises limiting yourself to three (“five if you’re greedy”) to prevent waste. “Ambassador is an old and reliable favourite,” he says. “People short of space might favour the climbing ‘Black Forest’ and ‘Shoot star’ (yellow) varieties that, with a little tying, can be led up a wigwam of canes or sticks.”
Kale sprouts are delicious and quick-growing, according to Barter. They are tall stems from which crunchy fresh kale buds are gathered in winter.
For a summer veg, try a broccoli hybrid such as ‘Sticcoli’, a cross between Chinese kale and calabrese which “sends up succulent flower shoots week after week if they are gathered promptly”.
These are quick and easy to grow and can be used in cooking, especially oriental dishes, as well as in your salads. ‘White Lisbon’ seed is cheap, says Barter, and any you don’t use will form white onion bulbs for use as required.
Top tip: sow or plant salads, herbs, radishes, salad onions and turnips every three weeks until the August bank holiday for a continuous supply.
If you’re looking to add a splash of colour on the cheap, trays of bedding plants provide an affordable way to stock up. Barter recommends fuchsia and petunia. And the nation’s favourite, roses, can be planted in spring.
If you have a shaded area, go for tolerant evergreens such as camellia and viburnums. While sun-baked dry spots suit Mediterranean shrubs such as cistus and lavender and sunny walls suit clematis, honeysuckle and climbing roses.
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