Continuing our new series, Jean Creen and her handyman husband ‘DIY’ Dave offer more household tips and advice. This month Dave has some tips for productive park home gardening
I know that one of the reasons some people move into a park home is to get away from their large gardens, since these can become hard to manage as you get older. However, that doesn’t mean you have to totally give up on using your green fingers.
The small size of a park home garden doesn’t have to stop you growing both flowers and also cultivating your own herbs and vegetables. Many people use pots and planters for their flowers, but these can also be used to grow food. In some cases it’s actually an advantage to use pots, since they raise your crop away from the ground and help to prevent pests like slugs, although it has to be said that a determined slug is capable of climbing up the sides of most pots!
I raise up some of my pots even further off the ground, using old building blocks and, I guess, if you’ve got a real problem with slugs, you could always put the blocks in some sort of large container and fill this with water, to make a ‘moat’ to keep the slugs away!
A top lettuce tip
With the limited space in a park home garden, you probably won’t be able to grow a massive crop, so it makes sense to preserve what you’ve got. One great tip with leaf crops like lettuce and cabbage is to go round and pick a selection of good outer leaves off all of your plants, rather than cutting a whole plant, when you want to make a salad. That way each plant will survive and grow more leaves, giving you a continual harvest during the growing season.
Another tip is that you don’t have to go out and buy expensive pots from garden centres to grow your own herbs and vegetables. I have used old buckets and even old plastic washing up tubs as planters. Just be sure to drill some drain holes in the bottom before you use them.
Of course, a selection of old washing up tubs is never going to look very attractive, but if your veg garden is around the back of you park home, then hopefully these won’t be on display to the neighbours!
Herbs and spices
Taking up even less space than some other crops, herbs and spices are also easy to grow in pots and planters, so are perfect for park home gardens with limited space. Herbs like basil and rosemary are easy to grow, plus I always have a mint plant. With mint, planting in a pot is actually much better than putting in the ground, since it can spread like a weed, taking over your garden, so at least a pot will restrict its growth. Just be sure to keep it regularly watered.
If you feel more experimental, what about growing chilli peppers? There are many varieties, with different strengths, so perhaps grow two or three varieties and see which one you like best in your cooking?
Another fairly easy plant to grow in pots is tomatoes. You may need to put a cane in the pot to support the plants to as they grow, plus they need lots of water, but your own fresh tomatoes are great in summer salads. The small cherry tomatoes can be better to grow than larger varieties, often giving a better crop.
Berries and fruits
Fruit trees and berry bushes might be a bit to large for park home gardens, plus they are not always easy to grow in pots and tubs. However, strawberries make a great summer crop and can be grown in small pots. Indeed this can again be an advantage as it keeps the growing berries off the ground where they may rot, instead hanging down the side of the pot.
Using some old wire mesh, I even made a frame around my strawberries, to protect them from hungry birds. I also made a hinged lid from the mesh, to protect them from above and so that I can easily lift this up when I want to pick some berries. I hope I’ve given you some inspiration and I am sure many of you are already growing herbs and veg in your garden. If so, I hope you have a good harvest!