Growing your own fruit, veg and herbs is fun, incredibly rewarding and helps to cut down on food miles - which is great for the environment! In fact, your food will have only travelled footsteps from plot to plate, and it'll taste far fresher and more flavoursome as a result. Plus, you can relax in the knowledge that no harmful pesticides or chemicals have been sprayed on your food - perfect for households who are keen to embrace healthy eating.
Plug plants have revolutionised gardening in the UK. Plugs in the box have already developed healthy root systems and are all set to get growing, making it easier to enjoy a bumper harvest even if you're new to kitchen gardening. No longer do you need the green-fingered skills of Alan Titchmarsh to grow your own food, and as an extra bonus, many varieties can be grown in pots and containers on patios and balconies.
Caring for your new plants
When your new plug plants arrive, take them out their packaging as soon as possible and stand them in water for an hour or so until the compost is moist. Then place the plugs in a well lit position indoors, but out of direct sunlight, and allow them to settle for at least 24 hours.
Some of the fruit, veg and herb plugs in the box are tender and must not be exposed to cold or frosty nights (see the next page on planting-up plug plants) so make sure your plugs are kept snug indoors until the threat of frost has passed.
How to pot-up your plug plants
Step 1) You'll need to remove plugs from their packaging and plant them up into small pots of compost. This lets their roots expand and you'll soon notice that plants will begin to grow rapidly. Do not tug on the stem to pull the plant out of the packaging! If you do need to handle the plant, always hold it by a leaf, and never by its stem.
Step 2) Fill a small pot with compost and gently firm the compost down. Leave a gap of about a centimetre at the top - it'll allow you to water the plant without water spilling over the edge of the pot and making a mess. Use your finger or a device called a dibber to make a hole in the centre of the compost that's slightly bigger than the plug plant.
Step 3) Hold the plug plant by its rootball and place it in the hole, at the same level as it's currently growing. Gently firm the compost around the plug and water lightly. Job done!
Step 4) To settle plants into their new pots, place on a windowsill or in a heated conservatory or greenhouse for a few weeks. Check the compost regularly and water before it dries out. Many of the plants (see guide over the following pages) are tender and must not be exposed to frost. That means they'll need to be kept indoors and not planted out into gardens until all risk of frost is over - that's usually mid-May in the south but can be as late as early June in Scotland - keep an eye on the weather forecasts.