Forcing spring bulbs for winter colour

pink purple yellow hyacinths on windowsill
Forcing flowers brings the colours of spring into your home early.
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The window of opportunity for planting bulbs to flower for Christmas and New Year may be closing, but there’s still time to plant beautiful displays that will bring colour and fragrance into your home during the cold, dark days of January and February.

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How to grow early flowering bulbs

Purple iris flower blooming in snow
Winter flowering bulbs bring a welcome sprinkling of early colour
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It’s time to plant bulbs and corms to brighten the dark days of late winter and early spring. These heartwarming splashes of colour take up so little space that they may be grown in a pot on a doorstep or balcony, or in a window box. Even better, they can be lifesavers for early emerging bees.

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How to grow your own soft fruit

mixed soft fruit berries close-up
Growing your own soft fruit is easy and yields delicious results
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Soft fruit is one of the easiest and most rewarding things to grow at home. It can be squeezed into a small space, and needs minimal care. Soft fruit also freezes well, helping to avoid the ‘courgettes with everything’ glut scenario that can happen when growing your own food.

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Planting late summer veg

With a little care, you can grow and harvest vegetables over the entire winter.
Image source: MelashaCat

As the summer fades into autumn and the weather gets colder, it’s tempting to pack up the vegetable garden and retreat indoors. But this means missing out on a range of crops that you can harvest over winter, or that give you a great head start on next season.

Some vegetable plants need a spell of cold to be at their best, while others can be tricked into thinking that temperatures are higher by putting them into a greenhouse or cold frame.

There’s so much to do by the time spring arrives that it makes sense get ahead at a quieter time of year. And there’s nothing better than the sight of some full veg beds to lift the gloom of midwinter. Here are just some of the vegetables I’ll be growing this autumn…

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Catch cropping – getting the most from your crop

Maximise your crop output with this technique.
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Harvesting crops is a double-edged endeavour. While we have the wonderful sense of satisfaction that comes with growing our own fruit and vegetables, the very act of harvesting it can leave us with a gaping hole in our planting. This is when catch cropping comes into its own, because we can turn that gap into an opportunity to grow something else delicious to eat.

The best catch crops are either fast-maturing or winter hardy. Crops that mature quickly, such as kohlrabi, radish and salad leaves, provide us with a harvest within weeks. Winter hardy crops stay in the ground and help to bridge the hungry gap in spring before the next main crop in our rotation needs the space. Catch crops maximise yields while covering the soil and helping to suppress weeds.

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