Five easy veg
When you're starting out with your new veg garden and trying to decide what to grow first, the sheer variety of vegetables that opens up to you when you grow your own can be bewildering. You'll find so many different types in our garden centre in Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare, from artichokes to zucchini, not to mention the mouthwatering selection of varieties of each, that it's hard to know where to begin.
But there are some veg you shouldn't be without: the tried-and- tested, easy-to-grow kitchen essentials. Plant these first, and you won't go far wrong.
Grow your own spuds, and you'll transform your opinion of this 'humble' vegetable forever. Try deliciously-flavoured heritage varieties, or savour melt-in-the-mouth new potatoes within minutes of harvest. Recommended varieties: 'Duke of York', 'Mayan Gold', 'Sarpo Mira'
If your idea of a pea comes from the freezer, fresh peas are a revelation. Sow on windowsills for microgreens, enjoy young pods as mangetout, and sprinkle curly shoot tips in salads. Or just enjoy the mature peas. It's up to you. Recommended varieties: 'Douce de Provence', Mangetout 'Shiraz', 'Ambassador'
French climbing beans
The connoisseur's alternative to runner beans, tailor your French climbing beans according to taste. Choose from slender pencil beans, flat-podded types, purple or yellow varieties, or shelling beans for white haricots. Recommended varieties: 'Cobra', 'Blauhilde', 'Blue Lake'
Breaking a fat head of garlic into cloves to plant in chilly November starts your gardening year with a smile. As well as dried cloves, try green scapes (flower spikes) and mild-flavoured green garlic. Recommended varieties: 'Chesnok Red', 'Solent Wight', Elephant Garlic
Generous crops of leafy greens, with a side order of crisp midrib, chard is just like spinach but miles easier to grow. It comes in a rainbow of differently-coloured stems - sometimes on the same plant. Recommended varieties: Swiss chard, Ruby chard, Chard 'Bright Lights'
Please ask the staff in our Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare garden centre for more information and advice about five easy veg.