Planting guide

It doesn't matter if you have a window box or acres of land, planting seeds, bulbs, bedding plants or shrubs is an exciting and rewarding thing to do. This guide will help you decide what to plant, where and when, to really help you get the best results.

Herbs

Perfect plants for garden, patio or your window box.

Everyone can grow herbs! Many can be grown from seed which saves money; and they can also provide plenty of spare plants for filling gaps in beds and borders. Most herb seeds should be sown in April. Use modular seed trays, and sow two or three seeds in each cell. Put the trays on a warm windowsill, or in an unheated propagator. Keep the soil moist and the seeds will soon germinate. Remove the weakest seedlings from each cell, leaving just one. Harden off and plant out in May.

  • Basil

    Sprinkle on salads and add to tomato dishes. Grow indoors, or outside in summer.

  • Chives

    Chop and add to salads and dips for a mild onion flavour. Very attractive clump forming plant.

  • Coriander

    Lower leaves can be used instead of parsley. Seeds can be dried.

  • Dill

    Grow from seed each year. Dry the seeds for use in pickling, salads and fish dishes.

  • Marjoram

    A decorative plant which enjoys full sun. Use leaves fresh or dried in cheese or meat dishes.

  • Mint

    Confine the roots to avoid excessive spread. Use the leaves to make tea and add to cold drinks.

  • Sage

    Versatile plant which has either silver green or purple foliage. Leaves used to add flavour.

  • Sorrel

    Use the young leaves in salads for a slight lemony tang. Larger leaves can be added to omelettes.

  • Thyme

    Lovely in pots but also good planted in cracks between paving slabs. Add leaves to meat and poultry dishes.

  • Parsley

    The leaves can be used fresh, dried or frozen, often as a garnish. Sow fresh seed each year in spring.

Fruit

It's delicious, good for you and easy to grow.

Certain foods have earned a reputation for being exceptionally good for us. This is because they are packed full of antioxidants which help to keep our bodies healthy.

  • Rhubarb

    It's easy to grow and one plant will provide delicious stems for many years. Buy a crown and plant in rich, well drained soil. Don't pick any stems in the first year, but from the second, you will have tender pink stems perfect for home made rhubarb crumble.

  • Blueberries

    Buy young plants and grow them in decorative containers on the patio. They require an acid soil so use ericaceous compost and rain water. Grow two or more, so that the flowers will be pollinated and feed with plant food.

  • Strawberries

    A strawberry pot with ripening berries looks fabulous on the patio. They are great value because at the end of the season each will have developed baby plantlets on the end of long shoots. Plant them into small pots whilst still attached. Once roots have grown, cut from the parent and you will have new plants for the following year. Plant food can help to improve fruit quantity and quality.

  • Blackberries

    A real seasonal treat. You can grow your own against a fence or over a wall in the garden. Cultivated varieties have larger berries than their wild cousins, produced on long, arching, very thorny stems. They are extremely vigorous, so prune hard.

  • Raspberries

    The fruits grow on canes which need to be tied to posts as they grow. Use plant food to help boost the crop. Although they take up a bit more space than some other types of fruit they are a real treat so definitely worth it if you have room!

  • Blackcurrants

    There are three types of currant, but the black variety is considered the healthiest. Attractive bushes which have pretty flowers and lots of juicy fruits in late summer. Can be container grown, but needs to be watered well.

  • Fruit trees

    If you have a large garden why not plant a fruit tree? Apple, pear or plum all look good and will provide a plentiful crop. They come in different sizes so you can usually find the right tree for the space available. Plum trees are often overlooked, but they are attractive and will produce plenty of plump, juicy plums you can eat straight from the tree. Even if you don't have a garden, you can still grow your own fruit trees. There are dwarf forms of apples, nectarines, peaches, cherries and pears, specially developed to grow in pots.

Vegetables
  • Tomato, easy to grow

    Everyone can grow tomatoes. Plant in growing bags, pots, greenhouse or bed. Bush varieties look great in pots and window boxes; they produce masses of sweet cherry tomatoes.

    • For greenhouse varieties sow inside in January
    • For outdoor varieties sow inside March to April
    • Readily available as young plants. Harden off outdoor varieties and plant out in June
    • A very hungry crop, so use plant food after flowering. Plants require canes to support them. Pinch out side shoots regularly
  • Pepper/chilli; kitchen essential

    Peppers are rich in vitamins and can add flavour to many dishes. Use mild varieties raw in salads, and add hot chillies to your favourite curry dish.

    • Sow inside or in a propagator from February to April
    • Young plants can be potted up and grown in a cool greenhouse or on a windowsill
    • Outside they are best in patio pots in a warm sheltered spot. They look great in window boxes and will enjoy full sun
    • Once they have flowered you can feed with plant food
  • Cucumber; easy to grow

    Mini cucumbers look great in pots on a sunny patio. Larger outdoor varieties are suited to vegetable beds, leave enough space for their trailing habit.

    • Sow inside or in a propagator from February to May. Sow outdoor varieties in mid April
    • Young plants and plug plants should be hardened off before planting outside in May
    • Check the variety as some are only suitable for growing in a greenhouse. All require plenty of water and a rich soil. Use fertiliser to give an extra boost
  • Sprouting broccoli; great winter value

    Excellent value as you can keep picking the shoots. Highly nutritious and young shoots can be eaten raw with dips.

    • Sow in seed bed from April to May
    • Young plants should be hardened off and planted outside during June and July
    • Grow in a vegetable bed, large containers or troughs
    • Harvest October to April
  • Beetroot; easy to grow

    Easy to grow and individual plants don't take up much space. Highly nutritious. Green tops can be cooked like spinach. Cook for use in salads. Can be pickled and stored in jars or just great roasted.

    • Sow outside from April to June
    • Available as young plants in strips
    • Can be grown amongst flowers in the border
  • Lettuce; ideal for containers

    Easy to grow and excellent for pots and window boxes. Available in mixed variety trays for added interest. Try cut and come again varieties for maximum economy.

    • Sow outside from February to July
    • Available as young plants. Harden off and transfer to pots or the vegetable bed. Use fertiliser to maximise growth and flavour
    • Everyone loves lettuce, including slugs and snails so keep watch for signs of nibbling
  • White onion; kitchen essential

    Easy to grow and individual plants don't take up much space. Shallots are a good alternative. They are slightly milder and smaller than standard onions.

    • Sow in growing position outside during March and April
    • Onion sets, immature bulbs, are an easy way to get started. Plant straight in the ground. Can be grown between shrubs in the border or even in troughs
    • Prefer a well drained sunny spot. Use fertiliser to get the best size and flavour
  • Broad bean; great Summer value

    Broad beans are expensive to buy fresh, so it's well worth growing your own. Dwarf varieties are available which are better for small gardens.

    • Sow outside from October to November or in January for later crops
    • Young plants and plug plants should be hardened off and transferred to the vegetable bed or border
    • As plants mature they will need canes to support them. Beans will benefit from extra nutrients during growth, so add plant food
  • Radish; quick to grow

    Packed full of potassium and vitamin C. Great in salads. Easy to grow and small enough to fit a few plants in beds and borders.

    • Sow outside from March
    • Young plants are available in strips
    • One of the fastest vegetables to grow. From seed to harvest could be as little as five weeks
    • Choose a warm sheltered position and once established, feed with fertiliser
  • Pea; children's favourite

    Fresh peas are expensive to buy, so growing your own is well worth it. Young peas straight from the plant are a delight; eat soon after harvesting for maximum goodness.

    • Sow outside in March
    • Available as young plants, harden off and plant out after last frost
    • Plants will require sticks to support them. Grow dwarf varieties in pots
    • Keep picking so they produce new pods
  • Parsnip; great winter value

    Fabulous hearty winter root vegetable. Frost is thought to improve the flavour.

    • Sow outside from March to April
    • Usually grown from seed
    • A slow growing crop which needs rich soil so use fertiliser once established. They are best grown in the vegetable bed
  • Spinach; rich in vitamins

    Easy to grow and full of goodness. Rich in vitamins A and C and high in fibre. Eat young shoots raw or lightly steamed for maximum nutritional value and flavour.

    • Sow seeds outside at three week intervals from March to July
    • Available to buy as plug plants. Harden off and plant out after the last frost
    • Living fruit and veg concentrate once established
  • Rosemary; fabulous fragrance

    An attractive, fragrant plant, suitable for containers, beds and borders. The leaves can be added to fish and meat dishes. Ideal for stews and soups and to sprinkle over cooked vegetables.

    • Sow outdoors from March to May
    • Young plants in pots are readily available and can be planted anytime
    • It's best to let plants mature in the first year and pick leaves in the second
  • Courgette; easy to grow

    Easy, fun plant to grow, very prolific. Can be grown in a large pot if watered well. Use sliced in stir fries or diced and added to stews and savoury bakes.

    • Sow inside from February to May
    • Available as young plants. Harden off and plant out after last frost
    • Grows quite large so allow space around each plant. Pick the young courgettes frequently to encourage more to grow. Likes rich soil and will benefit from the addition of plant food
  • Early potato; grow on a patio

    Nothing tastes quite like the first potatoes of the year and nothing quite so good as ones you have grown yourself.

    • Seed potatoes are potatoes saved from the previous year and encouraged to sprout shoots. They can be bought in bags which are labelled with the variety and when they should crop. First and second earlies are best, as these produce "new" potatoes
    • Plant in the vegetable bed or use a special potato sack. Add fertiliser to help increase the yield
  • Dwarf French bean; great Summer value

    Attractive bushy plants which can be grown in large pots on the patio. Try growing different coloured varieties for a stunning display.

    • Sow outside from mid March
    • Available as young plants and plug plants
    • Harden off and plant out late March
    • Protect from frost with fleece or cloches
  • Runner bean; easy to grow

    Picking beans regularly will encourage the plant to produce more. Try growing some against a house wall. Delicious chopped and lightly steamed. Freeze well.

    • Sow outside in position from April
    • Young plants are available. Harden off and plant out after the last frost
    • Plant in the vegetable bed or they could be planted between shrubs in the border. They are climbing plants so require canes to grow up, arrange in a wigwam shape for stability
  • Carrot; children's favourite

    Baby carrots are delicious raw. They are packed full of vitamin A so great for children to grow and enjoy.

    • Usually grown from seed. Sow outside from March
    • Young plants are also available
    • Add fertiliser once the plants are established
    • Cover with horticultural fleece to protect from carrot root fly

Jobs for January & February

  • Continue to harvest sprouting broccoli, leeks and parsnips
  • Sow broad beans if not already sown in Autumn
  • Sow inside - onions, leeks, peppers, chillies and indoor tomatoes. Also make first sowing of carrots and lettuce
  • Harden off and plant out strawberry plants

Jobs for March & April

  • Sow inside - dwarf French beans and courgettes
  • Sow outside - leeks, onions, parsnips, sprouting broccoli, courgettes, runner beans, rosemary, outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers. Also make first sowing of carrots, peas, radish and lettuce
  • Plant outside - onion sets and potatoes
  • Harden off and plant out lettuce and seed onions

Jobs for May & June

  • Sow outside - runner beans, dwarf French beans and outdoor cucumbers
  • Harden off and plant out runner beans, dwarf French beans, leeks, courgettes, outdoor cucumbers and tomatoes
  • Begin to harvest early sown dwarf French beans, broad beans, carrots, peas, potatoes, radishes and indoor tomatoes

Jobs for July & August

  • Continue to sow carrots, lettuce and radish
  • Begin to harvest runner beans, lettuce, courgettes, onions, peppers, chillies, strawberries, rosemary, outdoor cucumbers and tomatoes

Jobs for September & October

  • Begin to harvest sprouting broccoli, leeks and parsnips
  • Harden off and plant out strawberry plants
  • Could make early sowing of broad beans

Jobs for November & December

  • Continue to harvest parsnips, leeks and sprouting broccoli
  • Start to plan next years crop and make a list of seeds and plants you will need

Grow your own top tips

Grow from seed

Saves money and also provides plenty of spare plants for filling gaps in beds and borders.


Grow organic...

We all try to make choices which are good for the planet, good for our health and good for our pockets. Growing for the kitchen is a really positive step towards creating a better future, not only for ourselves, but for the environment around us.

B&Q have produced a great range of products designed to make the choice of going organic an easy one. Our composts are produced without harm to the environment and guaranteed to get plants off to a good start. Most crops may benefit from extra nutrients and natural plant food will increase yield and maximise flavour, organic fertilisers are tailor-made for the job. It's easy to benefit wildlife and enjoy better tasting, vitamin rich food - get your garden working for you and grow your own delicious fresh food organically.


Try grow bag gardening

You can grow all sorts in a grow bag. They are great for tomatoes, but you could also try, cucumbers, chillies and peppers. The potato sack is a relative newcomer to the grow bag family. Just right for the patio, it's a no-mess easy way to grow perfect, delicious potatoes.

  • Plant sprouting seed potatoes into an organic peat free multi-purpose compost.
  • Keep adding more layers of compost as the plants grow.
  • Watch out for flowering as two or three weeks later your new potatoes will be ready.

Ready-made plants

If you don't want to grow from seed, there's a wide range of fruit and veg available, already grown, and ready for you to plant. Look out for mixed collections; they give you a selection of plants which compliment each other.


Raised beds for vegetables - take up less space, are easy to manage and look great

Raised beds can be any size so even a small garden can accommodate one. The idea is that you never step on the soil so it doesn't become compacted. The plants enjoy a better growing environment and you can plant closer together, which is more economic and looks attractive too. Plant small quantities of each type so you get plenty of variety and interest.


Give children their own mini vegetable patch

They will have great fun, it's educational, and a good way to get kids to try new food. Let them plant things which are quick to grow and can be eaten straight from the plant. Carrots and peas are good, and strawberries will always be a hit. Teach them how to germinate seeds, care for seedlings and tend plants - let them enjoy the challenge and develop a valuable life skill.


You can do it in small gardens too!

There are lots of herbs, fruit and vegetables that grow just as well in containers so you can easily turn your patio into a productive kitchen garden. Choose dwarf varieties where possible. Don't forget windowsills, there are seed trays and propagators specially designed to fit.


Greenhouses and coldframes

A greenhouse is the perfect way to give young and tender plants protection, or to get off to an early start in spring. They are great for growing heat loving vegetables like tomatoes, and cucumbers. You could even try growing more exotic fruits like melons. Use a coldframe for hardening off plants grown from seed indoors. They are also useful for protecting tender plants from late spring frosts or unexpected cold weather.


Hardening off. What does it mean?

Plants raised inside must get used to conditions outside before planting out. Stand the young plants in a sheltered spot during the day and bring them in overnight for a week before finally planting in position. Alternatively you could use a cold frame, opening the top a little more each day.


Why not use plug plants?

A lot of vegetables are available as ready grown little plants. They are sold in modular trays which makes planting easy - just transfer to bed, border or pots.