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Vegetable Growing in Scotland

By 27th April 2016
We all know that eating five a day is one of the best ways to keep healthy.  Veggies are nature's powerhouses and packed full of nutrients, vitamins and taste.  
 
The huge upsurge in 'Grow Your Own' has sent us all running to gardening centres, determined to turn our wee patches of land into bounty rich harvests.  
 
However, with our hardy Scottish soil and colder weather, growing in Scotland takes a little more effort than elsewhere. That said, follow Ken's top tips here and you'll be feeding your friends and family all summer and autumn long!
 
Do send us your results or share your pics on social media and tag them #SmallCityGardens  Get inspired ith what to do by checking out our Vegetarian Recipes Section>>>

Watch Ken Cox On Growing Vegetables in Scotland

What Ken Says.
 
"Eat more vegetables? I think everybody knows the government advise you've got to eat 5 a day so this is the time of year you might think about buying some seeds for the new season.  You don't have to grow your courgettes and your melons and things from seed you can wait until April/May and you can buy the little plants - they'll cost you maybe a couple of pounds a plant. 
 
The advantage of sowing seeds is obviously that for £2.00, in this particular packet, you get 150 seeds so you can have as many peppers as you want for the same price. 
 
The draw back is that you've got to look after them for longer so it's up to you really how you want to do it, but it's certainly fun to try. We have a great range of all sorts of things at Glendoick from herbs, vegetables, peas and beans, flowers and so on.  
 
Now, the timing of seed sowing is absolutely crucial, particularly in Scotland and if you read the back of the seed packet it will tell you quite clearly when to sow indoors and out.  
 
I would take that with a little bit of a pinch of salt in Scotland and usually I would add one month, so if it says sow indoors in January to March, I would move that from February to April.  If it said sow outdoors from April to June, I would move that back by a month too so that you wouldn't start sowing until May because it's colder up here. 
 
These seed companies are all based down in Lincolnshire, places like that and it's a bit warmer than it is in Scotland.  That would be my first piece of advice. 
 
If your keen to grow more fruit and vegetables in Scotland, I wrote Fruit And Vegetables For Scotland about four of five years ago with Caroline Beaton and it's particularly detailed on sowing times and things like that to make sure that you get the best possible chance of success with the more tricky crops. 
 
You also need to know whether the plants are hardy enough because you're going to be germinating these seeds, maybe in a seed tray or something, and at some point they get too big and you've got to plant them outside. 
 
There are certain fruits and vegetables in particular which are just too tender to go outside until June so the timing of this is really important because if you sow your seeds now and you've got monster plants which are taking over your kitchen or your greenhouse and you can't plant them out, that's not going to work!
 
It's particularly true of melons, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes - these are all very tender plants and they really need warmth to germinate. If you put them in a cold greenhouse they'll just sit there and do nothing. 
 
They say they need 20 -25 degrees to germinate.  Now there's no way your going to be heating your greenhouse to 20-25 degrees, it would cost you an absolute fortune so one of the ways of doing this is to use a heated propagator on a windowsill to germinate the seeds.  This is a tray with a little heating element underneath it and then on to the top of the tray you've got a lid which has got a ventilator on it.  You can let the moisture and the heat out a little bit and you can either germinate seedlings in pots or you can put a tray in it. 
 
They are very cheap to run, the big one in the video is an 18 watt propagator and the little one below is only 8 watt so that's less than running a light bulb.  Much cheaper than putting the heating on in your green house at this time of year and very easy to keep at the sort of tempratures these seedlings need to germinate.
 
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Ken Cox is the resident Small City, Big Personality Garden columnist and expert. Born in 1964 into a family of renowned plantsmen, Kenneth Cox is grandson of planthunter, writer and nurseryman Euan Cox and son of Peter Cox VMH. The three generations were and are considered  the world's leading experts on rhododendrons. 
 
He has written numerous books on gardening including Fruit And Vegetables For Scotland with Caroline Beaton. The book was the Winner of UK Garden Media Guild  Practical Gardening Book of the Year 2012. 

The judges said: 'A practical book with personality, Fruit & Vegetables for Scotland is meticulously researched and impressively informative. It fills a long-empty gap for Scottish gardeners coping with weather conditions that are vastly different to the rest of the UK. This is an engaging and enjoyable read that you will return to time and time again.'

 
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