Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces – Jane Perrone

Jane Perrone

Jane Perrone, Gardening Editor, the Guardian

Jane began the talk by illustrating with photos how small areas look better with larger than average pots!  People often make the mistake of using small pots on small patios.  Not only does this give the optical illusion of making the area appear smaller, the pots do not hold sufficient growing medium with which to support growing fruit and veg…

Jane recommended buying large good quality terracotta pots, which should last a lifetime.  Almost any container will suffice when growing vegetable or fruit as long as it has sufficient depth.  Containers should be thoroughly cleaned out and then lined prior to being filled with soil.  Jane often uses old wooly jumpers or even cardboard as a liner.  Crocks are not needed at the bottom of pots for drainage.  Jane advised that evidential based studies have proven that they do not make any difference with drainage.

Raised beds were promoted as an excellent method to grow vegetables. Jane shared photos of her garden and it could be seen how well the raised beds worked. Mulching is recommended in order to suppress weeds and reduce moisture loss. Jane recommended a charcoal by-product called ‘biochar’ being used as mulch.  Cat owners might be pleased to hear that cats appear to love lounging around in biochar!

Growing vegetables in hanging baskets is a feasible option.  Photos showed Tumbling Tom tomatoes and chilies thriving in baskets.  Jane advocated using old colanders for baskets.  New colanders can be purchased for around £2 at a certain Scandinavian store.  The baskets need to be lined (can be an old wooly jumper) and crystal gel placed inside which helps with moisture preservation.  Jane is not a fan of the current trend of using a disposable nappy instead of crystal gel!  A good quality compost should be used.

Paving and walls can be utilized to grow herbs and salad items.  Jane demonstrated via photos just how well thyme grows around paving slabs.   Red valerian (excellent in salads) was thriving and flourishing in a stone wall.

Jane showed pictures of her roof garden on top of her home office on which she grows vast amounts of chives along with marjoram, thyme and other herbs.  Outside the back door, a pretty display dresser displayed pots of herbs.  Jane recommends gardening organically, without the use of harsh chemicals.

In conclusion, Jane reiterated that almost any container (from old oil drums to toilet roll cardboard on a windowsill) or any space  (paving, stone walls, pots on a patio) could be used in which to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs, as long as they have sufficient depth and appropriate attention from their owner!

A small selection of photos from Jane’s talk:


The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, 20th October and the speaker will be Janette Merilion, garden designer and historian, talking about Birds, Butterflies and Bees.  Please do join us.  New members and visitors will be most welcome.  For more information please contact Paula on 01234 602039

Paula Church (BGA Secretary).

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