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Kelvin Mason - Growing vegetables for the small garden

No matter how small your garden Kelvin Mason inspired the members that it is always possible to grow some vegetables by using containers, raised beds or by attaching shelving to walls.

His talk covered every aspect of growing vegetables on a small scale. Success is dependent on ensuring that containers are filled with the right compost, placed in a warm and sunny position and that seeds are not sown too deeply, which is the most likely cause of poor germination. He stressed that it is important that seeds are not sown until the soil has reached the right temperature to enable germination. Whilst peas will germinate as low as 3C, carrots and beetroot need 7C and beans and sweetcorn need 10C. So we were advised that it is better to sow late than too early. Weeds compete for moisture and nutrients so it is essential that they are removed and not allowed to seed.

The limited capacity of containers require that plants should be given liquid feeds and watered frequently. Raised beds should not be wider than 1.4 metres and should be filled with a mixture of soil and compost. They do not require digging but must not be trod on to avoid compacting the soil. Organic matter should be applied as a mulch in the autumn and the earthworms allowed to work it into the soil, so no digging is necessary. Vegetables can be planted more closely in raised beds as there is no need for paths to enable access for weeding and watering. Carrot rows can be as close as 2 inches and beetroot 4 inches apart, but this will result in smaller vegetables.

For those without space for large containers and raised beds walls with shelving that can accommodate small containers provide an alternative opportunity for growing on a small scale that is suitable for growing strawberries, beans and courgettes.

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