Gardening: Yes, you can still veg out in May

I WAS asked this week if it was too late to start growing vegetables this year. With the weather finally warming up and the garden becoming greener by the day the novice gardener was worried he’d missed the boat.

Reassuringly, for those who are a little left behind this year there are still plenty of crops that can be started in May. – French beans, runner beans, carrots, salad leaves, radish, winter cropping brassicas, pumpkins and squashes to name but a few.

Courgettes can be sown inside now – they need fairly warm temperatures to germinate so do well if placed in a propagator. Even covering the pot with a plastic bag will help. Keep an eye on the plants and wait for two or three true leaves to grow.

The first leaves to emerge are known as seed leaves; they are often a different shapes from the mature leaves. However, true leaves are usually the same as the mature leaves of the plant.

Once the courgettes are at this stage they can be hardened off, the process of acclimatising plants to outdoor conditions. Place them outside for a few hours each day. Increase the time daily, bringing the plants in at night. After one-two weeks and once the risk of frost has passed, the plants are ready to go outside permanently.

As well as gardening we are planning summer events, including our free Edible Edinburgh, Breakfast at the Botanics. Our exciting contribution to The Festival of Dangerous Ideas will be held on Wednesday June 13 from 7.30am-9.30am. Located in the Demonstration Garden, entry will be via the North Gate on Inverleith Place. An early- morning breakfast of local foods and free ideas, the Edible Gardening Project and Guerilla Gardener Kate Gilliam will be on hand to speak to visitors about growing and foraging for food in the City.

• Jenny Foulkes is manager of The Edible Gardening Project based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which aims to teach people the skills and knowledge they need to grow their own food and is run jointly with the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society and funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery.