Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for April written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).

Now many of us are under curfew or have been told to stay at home other than for essential reasons, it’s a good time to get outside and see what needs doing in the garden, or what could be done to make it look better. Or even better still, think about growing your own food stuffs.

Tools of the trade

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
Tools of the trade. Photo by Lee Stevenson.

I mostly use my hand digger and shovel in the garden but I would also be lost without my dibber, which helps when making holes to plant plugs or small plants grown from seed. I also use a weeding hand tool which can be purchased from most yapı (building/DIY) markets. If, like me, you spend a lot of time on your knees in the garden, a kneeling pad or an old seat cushion will stop your knees taking a battering.

Contain yourself

If growing in pots, make sure you have the correct size container/pot and that it has drainage holes to avoid the soil becoming waterlogged. You can also use old food/drink containers to grow plants. I regularly use my old ayran cups for seedlings.

The bonus of growing in pots is you can move your plants to a less/more sunny spot or out of the bad weather should you need to.

Now is the best time to clear paths and gardens of weeds before they get  a stronghold and re-seed. If you have roses or fruit trees, it’s a great time to feed with fertiliser and remove any damaged branches.

When you’re growing from seed, a good quality compost generally helps enormously. If you’re planning on growing basic lettuce, radish or runner beans etc, providing your soil isn’t to stony or clumpy, you should be able to grow these without any trouble.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
Runner beans in my garden. Photo by Lee Stevenson

When growing lettuce, radish, rocket, beetroot, mustard leaves, Swiss chard and turnips, don’t plant them all at once. Grow a few in succession (every 2 weeks for example)  to avoid having lots all at once.

All the above are easy to grow and can be sown now straight into the ground were they are to grow. Other easy to grow vegetables include courgette ( 2 plants should be plenty for most people) , sweetcorn, beans, peas, cucumber, kale, pumpkin, carrots (try to make sure there are no stones in your soil or they will fork), garlic ( I use cloves from garlic bought at the market) and strawberries ( can be bought as small plants at the market or garden shops).

Flower Power 

I have grown plenty of cosmos and harlequin sunflowers (great for attracting Goldfinches) from seeds saved from last year. I have planted some of these plants at the bowling green next to GoGo the eatery – here’s hoping they do well.

Apart from cosmo & sunflower, all of the following are fairly easy to grow from seed and will reward you with colour for most of the summer months; sweet peas, marigolds, nasturtium, geranium (cuttings easily root in water),  nigella, aquilegia, poppy and pansies.

An anniversary and a bit of fun

It’s been a year since I started writing these articles so I thought I’d set a challenge for anyone who wants a bit of fun.

Largest/heaviest pumpkin

Those of you with enough space can try your hand at growing the largest/heaviest pumpkin (I can provide Dills Atlantic Giant seeds – from a distance – if anyone needs them). With the right care, you’ll see these plants growing in front of your eyes.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
The Grand-Daddy of giant pumpkins. The present record for this amazing variety is now over 1000 lbs. Photo Credit: Jung Seed

Tallest Sunflower

Easy to grow and can be fun for kids of all ages

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
This sunflower, grown in Rochdale, had reached a height of 12 feet when this photograph was taken and it was still growing. Photo Credit: Rochdale News

Longest Chilli

As measured from tip to green top.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
These chillies are 30cm long. Photo Credit: South Devon Chilli Farm

Largest (Circumference) Tomato

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
Tomato plants, called Gigantomo, can grow fruits up to 10 inches wide and as heavy as 3lbs. Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Weirdest looking vegetable or fruit

Sometimes mother nature does the strangest things, or is it how you talk to them?

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
Buzz Lightyear shaped carrot. Photo Credit: Pinterest
How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Coronavirus gardening
Foot shaped radish. Photo Credit: Pinterest

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, starts now!

Please let us know what you are growing and send us updates and photographs.

Or – if you have previously grown anything that is outsized or weird and wonderful, please send us a photograph (including yourself if possible) and give us details of the variety, where, when and any other information.

Please send all photographs to Lee via An English Gardener in Çalış

Happy growing and have fun! 

Do you have a question about gardening?

Please share your experiences with us and ask any questions you have on gardening. Gardening in a hot climate can present you with many challenges and these articles are here to help you.

If there is something you would particularly like advice on or to know about, we also want to hear from you.

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An English Gardener in Çalış

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