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17 September 2014
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how to be a gardener - The complete online guide

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homeModule 1Module 2Module 3Module 4Module 5Module 6Module 7Module 8
7 - Setting up your plot
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Saving space
There’s room for a few fruit and vegetables in any garden, no matter how small.
Sweetcorn and marigoldYou don’t have to have a dedicated fruit and vegetable plot to grow them successfully. You can mix them in with your flowering plants. It’s what cottage gardeners have done for centuries.
Rhubarb chardYou can grow vegetables among ornamentals (or vice versa). There are many varieties which have ornamental qualities, such as red flowered beans, crinkly leaved lettuce, black French beans and yellow tomatoes.Even the frilly foliage of the humble carrot is pretty.
Use vertical spaces in the garden. How about creating a temporary ‘hedge’ of runner beans over a net, or putting a few willow teepees in a bed and growing beans, gourds, cucumbers or melons over them?
Container peasThen there are containers. A patio of potatoes, prize petunias and pelargoniums will get them talking! Salad leaves, herbs, courgettes and climbing beans all grow perfectly well in containers. On a warm sunny patio, add tomatoes and sweet peppers to the list.
Of course, you could always get your hands on my space by getting an allotment – link to Go further section.
Developing a productive garden
Growing vegetables and fruit successfully is basically no different to growing ornamental plants successfully. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you. Start with good plants or seed, give them what they want: food, water and light - and they’ll do the work for you.
Organic manureImproving the soil
Vegetables and fruit are greedy devils, and where do you think they get all the goodness they need? Yes, the soil. It’s important to incorporate lots of bulky organic manure and fertiliser every year. See the section on digging in Module 4, Practical planting.
7. The productive garden

Setting up your plot
 Making your own compost
 General care
Growing vegetables
Growing fruit
The kitchen diary
Greenhouse growing
The herb garden
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Find thousands more plants in the BBC Gardening database.
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Learn how to build a compost heap with our fun game, Hurl-a-heap.
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