Growing potatoes and tomatoes is easy. It's also fun, and your produce will taste better than anything you'll get in a shop. You can grow both in the ground, or containers, so it doesn't matter how big your garden is. If all you have is a patio or a balcony, you can still have a go.
Potatoes and tomatoes require plenty of sun, so try and plant them where there's little or no shade. Plant two or three different varieties, this makes the whole process more interesting.
When you buy your seeds, seed potatoes or young plants, follow the instructions that come with them. Here are a few general hints, and things to watch out for.
There are hundreds of different potato varieties, so make a careful choice. For most gardeners, early cropping potatoes are better. Not only do you get to eat them sooner, they're less likely to suffer pest troubles.
You can start planting potatoes as soon as the soil starts to warm up, from about mid-March.
Before they go in the ground, seed potatoes have to be sprouting. The little sprouts should be about 2cm long. If they're not, you'll have to leave them in a light place until they are.
When planting out, handle the little tubers with care. Also, sprinkle a small amount of fertiliser in the planting trench. This'll give your potatoes a good start. As they grow, add more soil around their bases, this'll help them to develop.
If you're growing potatoes in containers, they have to be well-drained. On the other hand, they mustn't dry out. Always keep an eye on them, and water if necessary.
Early potatoes are ready as soon as the flowers open, that could be from about June. They can then be lifted and eaten straight away.
Like potatoes, tomatoes come in a wide variety. Some are best suited to outdoor growing, others are better for containers. Take time to browse, try and make a wise choice, but don't be afraid to experiment.
Tomatoe seeds are sensitive to frost, don't plant them out until it's safe to do so.
As they grow, tomatoes will benefit from shelter and warmth. If you're growing them outdoors, place them by a south facing wall, if possible.
Tomatoes require a bit more maintenance that potatoes, you need to think about supporting them with canes. They also need feeding when the fruits start to grow, use a regular tomato feed for this. And, don't let them produce too many fruit baring trusses, aim for about four. When you've got those, nip out any new flowering shoots.
You'll know when your tomatoes are ready, they'll turn a glorious red. Pick them when they're ripe, and eat them on the day.