5 Superfoods That Are Easy to Grow

Vaccinium – Blueberry

Vaccinium - Blueberry 'Ivanhoe' - © GAP Photos/Dianna Jazwinski

Vaccinium – Blueberry ‘Ivanhoe’ – © GAP Photos/Dianna Jazwinski

High in fibre, Vitamin C and K, and a very popular berry, blueberries are easy to grow providing you remember a few important aspects. First of all, they love acidic soil, so if your soil leans more neutral or alkaline, consider growing them in large pots of ericaceous compost. Give them an annual prune and feed in early spring. Keep them in a nice sunny garden location and you should have lots of berries!.

Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) – Kale Nero Di Toscana Precoce

Kale Nero Di Toscana Precoce - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Kale Nero Di Toscana Precoce – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Kale is a bit of a powerhouse as it is very nutrient dense and can produce a bountiful supply of greens. It can be used in all kinds of dishes, and has the added benefit of looking extremely ornamental in border. It is also hardy, so can be grown and harvested throughout the winter when many other food crops would fail. As with other brassicas, you may need to protect it from pests, such as peckish birds and cabbage root fly.

Beta vulgaris – Beetroot

Man holding bunch of freshly harvested beetroot - © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Man holding bunch of freshly harvested beetroot – © GAP Photos/Maxine Adcock

Beetroot, or beets, is another example of vegetable that is hardy, so can be harvested in winter and early spring. Beetroot seed do require a little warmth to germinate, so get the seedlings started while the weather is still fine. These nutty-tasting vegetables are known to divide opinion. However, they are packed of essential nutrients and have numerous health benefits eaten cooked or raw. The enlarged roots can be boiled or roasted, or are delicious grated onto dishes. Beetroot is a three-in-one vegetable, as along with the roots, the leaves and stems are also entirely edible.

Petroselinium crispum – Flat-leaved Parsley

Petroselinium crispum - Flat-leaved  Italian parsley - © GAP Photos/Juliette Wade

Petroselinium crispum – Flat-leaved Italian parsley – © GAP Photos/Juliette Wade

Parsley is widely used as a garnish on many dishes, but it has many health benefits, being high in so many vitamins and minerals. It is said to be antibacterial and decrease inflammation to boot. It is the main-stay of many herb gardens as it is inexpensive to buy and grows easily from seed. This plant is a biennial, so it will need replacing every couple of years. Keep it well watered and harvest regularly to discourage the plant from flowering early and going to seed.

Cucurbita – Pumpkin

Pumpkin in vegetable garden - © GAP Photos/Pernilla Bergdahl

Pumpkin in vegetable garden – © GAP Photos/Pernilla Bergdahl

If you have the space, consider growing a pumpkin plant or two, as they are high in vitamin A and antioxidants and look fantastic ripening on the vine as autumn arrives. While the plants require a sunny, sheltered location and lots of water, these savoury fruits are easy to grow. Pumpkins will succumb to frosts, so acclimatise young plants, and wait for the warm weather to come in before planting out. A great plant to get children interested in gardening – what could be more exciting than growing their own Halloween pumpkin?

Eight Ideas with Tin Cans

How often do you find yourself recycling tin cans? Likely quite often, as so many foods are supplied this way. Luckily, they are very versatile and handy, and can be used to create all kinds of home and garden projects. Why not store up a supply of tin cans and get crafty? Here are a few easy ideas.

1. Lanterns

Lit tin can lanterns hanging in a tree - © GAP Photos

Lit tin can lanterns hanging in a tree – © GAP Photos

It is easy to safely make a hole in the side of a tin can with a nail and hammer. You can create all sorts of patterns, which will glow through the dark when a t-light candle is lit inside. Create a wire hook and hang your lanterns from tree branches, or place them on the corners of steps to light the way.

2. Unusual Borders and Surfaces

Hundreds of tin cans stacked and built to edge borders. All filled with plants and herbs. Tin bottoms and black pebbles combined as a decorated surface - © GAP Photos/Hanneke Reijbroek

Hundreds of tin cans stacked and built to edge borders. All filled with plants and herbs. Tin bottoms and black pebbles combined as a decorated surface – © GAP Photos/Hanneke Reijbroek

Here, large tin cans have been creatively used to create both the edge of a border, and decorative surface below it. They add a contrasting texture and colour to the garden. You can also use them to create multi-tiered planting.

3. Flower Vases

Aquilegia, Geranium, Alchemilla and Nepeta displayed in tin cans - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Aquilegia, Geranium, Alchemilla and Nepeta displayed in tin cans – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

The silver metal of these tin cans really complements the soft florals displayed in them and keeps the style casual, low-key and rustic. Tie them to fence posts or display them as centrepieces.

4. A Hanging Salad bar

Variety of lettuces hanging in alluminium cans on the side of a shed - © GAP Photos

Variety of lettuces hanging in alluminium cans on the side of a shed – © GAP Photos

Tin cans make quick and economical containers, especially as drainage holes can be so easily hammered into the bottom. Create a hanging salad bar and plant an assortment of lettuces in tin cans, hung up with jute string. This is suitable if you don’t have much space. You can even create a multi-story hanging salad bar but suspending the tin cans from each other.

5. Protective Caps on Stakes

Empty tin of Branston Baked Beans used as an eye protector on the top of a cane - © GAP Photos/Pat Tuson

Empty tin of Branston Baked Beans used as an eye protector on the top of a cane – © GAP Photos/Pat Tuson

It is important to think about health and safety in the garden. With their exposed, spikey ends, stakes can be hazardous. While you can buy plastic caps to safely cover the tops of stakes, empty tin cans make a far more economical and environmentally friendly option. They also add a quirky and decorative touch too.

6. Wildlife Shelters

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden. Rusted alluminium cans used for insect hotels. Designer - Sean Murray. Sponsor - Royal Horticultural Society - © GAP Photos

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge Garden. Rusted alluminium cans used for insect hotels. Designer – Sean Murray. Sponsor – Royal Horticultural Society – © GAP Photos

Rusted tin cans look fantastic when stacked on top of each other. Here they serve as both a functional and decorative element. Filled with bamboo canes, they provide shelter for wildlife, as well as adding textual interest. This is an easy and fun way to repurpose tin cans and take care of the wildlife in your garden.

7. Containerised Herb Garden

Woman cutting Oreganum 'Country Cream' with scissors - © GAP Photos

Woman cutting Oreganum ‘Country Cream’ with scissors – © GAP Photos

Here a simple wooden trellis holds tin cans of herbs for harvesting. Using tin cans for all the herbs keeps the style uniform, and the trellis can be moved to the most suitable location.

8. Tin Can Sculpture

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. Circular sculpture made from rusted old steel cans - © GAP Photos/Andrea Jones

The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. Circular sculpture made from rusted old steel cans – © GAP Photos/Andrea Jones

Sculptures can really add interest to a garden and provide form and structure all year round. Here, tin cans have been squashed and threaded into a loop to make this sculptural, contemporary piece.

How to Make Paper Pots from Newspaper

Reduce your use of plastic and create biodegradable seed plant pots from newspaper. To do this you will need to buy yourself a paper pot maker, which are now available in garden centres and online.

The benefits to making pots out of newspaper are numerous. It’s cost affective as you just need to invest in the pot maker itself, and you are re-purposing old paper or newspaper which you would normally throw away or recycle. The paper will naturally decompose in the ground, meaning you can plant the whole pot, giving the roots a chance to establish well without being disturbed during transplanting.

Step 1 – Carefully measure and cut the paper

Woman tearing newspaper to make newspaper pots - © GAP Photos

Woman tearing newspaper to make newspaper pots – © GAP Photos

Cut strips of paper to the correct width and length specified on the pot maker packaging. It is important to keep to the recommendations to ensure there is enough paper to create a secure bottom to the pot.

Step 2 – Wrap a strip of paper around the Insert

Woman rolling strip of newspaper tightly on to pot maker - © GAP Photos

Woman rolling strip of newspaper tightly on to pot maker – © GAP Photos

When forming the pot, try to make sure there is sufficient overhang from the insert to create the bottom of the pot. Try to keep the paper tight against the device.

Step 3 – Create the base to the paper pot

Woman pressing the folded newspaper ends into the pot maker to create the pot bottom - © GAP Photos

Woman pressing the folded newspaper ends into the pot maker to create the pot bottom – © GAP Photos

Bend the overhanging paper inwards and then press the whole thing into the wooden base

Step 4 – Apply some pressure

Woman pressing the folded newspaper ends into the pot maker to create the pot bottom - © GAP Photos

Woman pressing the folded newspaper ends into the pot maker to create the pot bottom – © GAP Photos

Apply sufficient pressure onto the pot maker to create a paper pot base. Then lift the insert up and gently slide the paper pot off.

Step 5 – Add some soil and seeds

Woman adding a little compost to each pot to cover the seed - © GAP Photos

Woman adding a little compost to each pot to cover the seed – © GAP Photos

Add some soil to the pots and sow your seeds. Give the pots a little water to get them started.

Step 5 – Don’t forget a plant label

Woman adding a wooden plant label to paper pots - © GAP Photos

Woman adding a wooden plant label to paper pots – © GAP Photos

Whenever you sow seeds, be sure to add an identification label so you know what the seedlings are when they appear. Plant out as soon as possible – you can plant the whole pot in the ground with the seedling, as the newspaper will naturally break up and decompose.