Home Exotics Edible


Growing fruit and veg under glass

I realise I’m entering a bit of a grey area here – there will be many areas of the country that won’t think twice about growing tomatoes, cucumbers, etc out of doors, but that’s not an option for me in NE England.

We tend to have cool, dull summers influenced by the proximity to the North Sea, although our last few springs have been pretty dry and gloriously sunny.

Also, it’s nearly always windy, which does nothing any good.

I’ve always grown cordon tomatoes in my conservatory (no wicker three-piece suite for me) which, at 30ft long by 5ft wide, is an ideal environment.

I also have a small greenhouse (8ftx4ft, the biggest I could get), which has so far smashed itself to smithereens every winter, costing me a small fortune. I’m on first-name terms with the glazier.

As well as the tomatoes, a permanent summer fixture is the cucamelon, those strange little watermelon/cucumbery things from Mexico, which my daughter loves.

I feel a bit guilty adding these under edibles, as my small colony of Dwarf Cavendish banana plants haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of bearing fruit. The Abyssinian Red banana is even more of a rank outsider in the cropping stakes.

The various glass constructions have also played host to peppers, chillies, aubergines (total failure), a fig tree and even a grapevine at one stage.

In autumn/winter and early spring, I make use of the empty greenhouse bed by growing Paris Market carrots and cut-and-come-again salad mixes.