the zipcar garden continues…

The great Henry Thoreau once said “One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter”. We like to think the weather patterns are somehow heeding those words, albeit through a heavily distilled sense of irony. After all, we're maintaining a little bit of summer, in summer. Known for his writing on simple living in his natural surroundings, Thoreau clearly wasn’t a resident of the UK.

Yet for all of our moaning about the weather, at least we’ve seen the sun a few times in recent weeks (we even took a photo for posterity). As such the Zipcar Garden has been growing apace and with it, actual fruit and veg. Given we started this project with mostly whimsy and exuberance as opposed to those practical things like experience and knowledge, to see this level of growth is not only encouraging but demonstrates that literally anyone can do it.

There’s still time to get involved if you haven’t been growing along with us, we’ll outline what you can still achieve below.


We ran out of space in our beds but still wanted to grow some tomatoes, which if you haven’t tried it before, is as easy as...

  1. Purchasing a grow bag or two
  2. Get hold of some tomato plants
  3. Plant and water.

The sun, when it shines, will do the rest and all we’ve done is pop a couple of canes in to support the weight of the plants now they’re starting to fruit.

Hide & Seek with green tomatoes.

If your local garden centre has some plants for sale (already growing, rather than from seed), and you’re confident the sun will appear again before August, you’ll have a reasonable chance of a crop. But don’t delay – now is the time! If it’s an outdoor spot, simply ensure they're sheltered from strong winds and in all cases they need sun. Our plants aren’t particularly big due to the late planting and lack of sunlight, but after only about 4 weeks we’ve still got some reasonable sized fruit.

Bed 1 - 'Jurassic Park':

Contrary to our concerns last month about the red pepper plants not blooming, they’ve actually started to flower. Even though they haven’t grown more than a few inches in height, we’re hoping that the flowering will result in peppers – that seems to be how it's working with the peas and tomatoes. Flowers = Food.

Peter piper yet to pick a pepper (or peas).

Additionally the broccoli has gone a little bit ‘Jurassic Park’ on us, which bodes well for the crop but it’s impacting the onions a little – which were already suffering as a result of multiple feline excursions. Under the canopy of the broccoli it’s like the forest moon of Endor for cats.

Jurassic park foliage.

Bed 2 - Courgette congregation:

This bed gets a little less sun than Bed 1 but is still going strong. Due to some questionable ethics by other consumers at our local garden centre, the 4-pack of squashes, pumpkins and courgettes that we purchased turned out to be a 4-pack of just courgettes. So whilst we’ve been scrabbling around looking for courgette recipes, they’ve been shooting up at quite a pace.

Yellow and green courgettes.

We’re also delighted to report that our raspberries and garlic have been doing the same though the courgettes have been encroaching on their patch a little.

Raspberries and garlic. Together at last.

In just four weeks we’ve seen some really substantial growth:

Before & after - June to July growth.

Over to you:

If you haven’t got the space to replicate our Zipcar beds, fear not – a good pot or planter will do. And since time is running out, here’s what we’d do if we were planting now: Buy or build a herb planter or pots and then look at planting:

  • Mint – easy to grow, but needs to be contained.
  • Thyme – also easy to grow and would fit into a large pot/planter with..
  • Basil, Chives and/or Oregano

All of which great additions to most dinners, lunches or salads. And in the case of mint, cocktails.

We’re hoping to build a planter ourselves and plant the above. This would have been completed already were it not for Glastonbury, Wimbledon and last weekend's surprise appearance of the sun, causing us to run around like giddy children hopped up on fizzy drinks and candy floss, instantly forgetting our responsibilities. Still, for these herbs there should still be enough sunlight left in the season to get some good crops. Keep your eyes peeled for the next update where we’ll be demonstrating how we built our planter (we can’t guarantee it will be pretty, but it will be practical) and what we’ve planted in it, as well as our usual catch-up with the beds.

If you have any tips, advice or pics of your own efforts, please do post below or email

Gardener's Zipstertime

Previous Zipcar Garden Posts:

April - The history of the Zipcar garden & planning for 2013

May - Building the beds and planting, and meet Ted (security).

June - The sun came out! Cue growth and photos with a warm hue.

Granny’s Tip:           

When are you building this herb planter?! When you do, make sure its well drained and chock-full of compost. And if its sunny, really water them in when you plant them and keep an eye on them so they don't dry out.

We have indeed been remiss when it comes to building our planter, but for some cracking advice (which we'll be following) have a look at the RHS Container planting page - you're still in time to grow!

Useful Links:

RHS July To-Do list

How to plant a Herb Pot in 10 easy steps

RHS Vegetable Planner

BBC ‘Dig In’ Grow your Own Information

BBC Radio 4 - Gardeners' Question Time

UK Gardening tips & information

Gardeners' World:

Did you know that green-fingered Zipcar members can find fresh inspiration with our new member benefit from Gardeners’ World? Get 12 issues of the UK’s biggest selling gardening magazine for just £28 – that’s 40% off the cover price. Packed full of practical advice, subscribe today and your garden will soon be bloomingly better than the Zipcar Garden.

Click here to find out more

Fresh Summer Recipes:

Don't forget to check out our fresh summer recipes for some tasty treats!