If the weather’s getting you down, remember gardening’s always about looking ahead – in this case, to new season vegetable crops.
The emphasis is mainly on compact varieties, although there is a Beginner’s Collection from Real Seeds that is too good to miss.
Broccoli All Season Collection
This mix offers seven months of easy pickings from November to May – Red Admiral F1, Mendocino and Burbank, £3.99, www.thompson-morgan.co.uk
The first plant to be grown from seed, harvested and eaten in space.
A red romaine variety with a sweet crunch – harvest late May to late October, £2.99, www.suttons.co.uk
Tomato Ruby Falls
The plants produce dense columns of compact plants, perfect for a smaller greenhouse. Large, cherry-sized fruit which are deep red in colour, with green striping which fades as the fruit ripens. £3, Rob Smith Heritage Veg Range, www.dobies.co.uk
Creamy-yellow fruits with green tips, 1½ft (45cm,) £2.45, www.chilternseeds.co.uk
Sweet pepper Beauty Bell F1
An early-fruiting pepper with large, thick-walled, square-shaped fruits. They start off green, turn fiery red and are high yielding, £2.25, www.plant-world-seeds.com
Cucumber Mini Munch
A mostly female-flowering variety which gives large crops of snack-sized cucumbers over a long harvest season, £3.95, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Aubergine Clara F1 (Organic)
A fast growing, early variety for reliable crops of attractive, glossy white fruit. Can be grown in a greenhouse or on a sunny, sheltered patio, £2.15, www.johnsons-seeds.com
Small white Munchkin type with sweet tasting pale flesh. £2.59, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
The Beginner Gardener Seed Collection
A selection that are ideal for the first-time grower. Contains Flashy Butter Oak lettuce, Giant Red carrot, Golden beetroot, Verde di Italia courgette, Stupice tomato, Cupidon bean, Havel pea, Liesde Hangdown broad bean and Fordhook giant chard, £21.50, www.realseeds.co.uk
GET IN TOUCH
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JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND
Order summer-flowering bulbs, such as gladioli, dahlias, and begonias from mail-order specialists if you want unusual varieties, or pop along to your nearest garden centre for more popular choices.
Check arches, fence posts and panels are secure. Make sure the stakes on young trees are sound and that climbing plants are securely fastened. Firm back newly planted trees and shrubs if they have been lifted by winds.
Seed sowing time begins – sow Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia, Pelargonium and sweet peas in a heated propagator.
Sweet peas sown in autumn can be potted on. Place them on a sunny windowsill, or on a high shelf in the greenhouse in as light a situation as possible to prevent them getting leggy. Watch out for aphid attack.
This is the last chance to sow seeds that need frost to germinate (native trees, shrubs and alpine plants, such as Sorbus, Cotoneaster, and Pernettya).
Don’t forget to check out independent garden centres and nursery sales – you might get a bargain!
Root cuttings can be taken now. Papaver (perennial poppies), Verbascum (mullein), Acanthus and Phlox are suitable.
Lift containers outside on to old bricks, to stop them sitting in the wet.
Watch out for overwintering pests in the greenhouse/conservatory. Nooks and crannies, and the bark of woody plants and vines are prime hiding places.
Clean old pots and seed trays, so that they are ready for sowing and planting.
Monitor the water level of ponds - frosts can damage liners and concrete. If the water level drops, it may have a leak. Keep it topped up until repairs can be carried out in spring. Rake out fallen leaves or shake off those that have gathered on protective netting.