WHAT’S NEW IN GARDENING? Growing methods for 2024

March is the first real gardening month of the year so inevitably we are going to be busy! There is much tradition in garden growing, so this month let’s take a look at how growing methods and new developments in breeding have come to help us with our growing in 2024.

Last month we started a new feature about how things are changing in the way we garden.  As March arrives, let’s take a look at what’s new  in vegetable growing!

Growing vegetables in our gardens has gone on for centuries, initially to produce our own food, but as time has gone by, other elements have come in such as reducing household costs and of course as a hobby. More recently, interest has focused on ‘growing for health’.

Towards the end of a 45 year career with the country’s leading seed/plant companies, it became clear there was an increasing interest and concern for the environment and the quality of the food we eat. Hence I began to look at what was happening in commercial horticulture and how ideas and there could be transferred to help the home gardener.

Let’s take a look at just a few examples of how plant breeders are helping to improve the quality of our food and environment.

Salad leaves (‘Cut and come again’). A relatively new concept, these are a really great, easy way to start ‘growing your own’. You will find different mixtures on the seed stands in the garden centres or get them mail order. Sow them outside in the garden or in containers on the patio.

Many people just grow them in a tray on a light window-sill indoors.

You can achieve a crop in just 3-5 weeks and if you leave a couple of centimetres of stem when you cut the crop, they will ‘come again’.

They are extremely nutritious – and tasty!

Another example of new breeding and environmental factors are new Runner Beans crossed with French Beans. Why? Well, runner beans need to be pollinated by Bees and if they are in short supply early and late in the summer – no beans!

French beans self-pollinate and so by crossing the two types you can get varieties that will crop with or without bees being present. The wonders of plant breeding! Try varieties Firestorm (red flowered) or Moonlight (white flowered) if you want to try them!

These new varieties in addition to the high summer crop start earlier and continue longer.

Oh! In case you are wondering, they still taste like your favourite runner beans!

Look for more exciting examples of ‘What’s new in gardening next month.’