I have spent these last few cold(ish) weeks planning out where my crops are going and what varieties I will be trying. After sorting through my seed collections, I filled in the blanks with a selection of seed bought from Mr Fothergills and D.T. Brown.
Using Dobies vegetable garden planner, I have devised a cunning plan for the two plots as to where everything is going and I thought I would share this with you.
On the small half plot, I shall be putting most of my brassicas this year (where I had my beans last year). Hopefully they will benefit for the nitrogen that has been fixed in the soil. I shall be planting a number of different brassicas:
- Red Cabbage – Red rodeo from Mr Fothergills. I have used this variety for the last two years and although I have had quite a few losses (all my own fault for not paying enough attention) it has a good flavour and I find it keep well.
- Spring/Autumn Greens – Cabbage Offenham 2 – Flower of Spring. A new variety I will be trying.
- Summer Cabbages – Golden acre/Primo II also from Mr Fothergills. I tried these last year and they hearted really well but the caterpillars got to them before me!
- Winter Cabbages – January King 3 I’ve had this packet of seed for the last two years and I am finally going to use it. Hopefully it will still germinate well. Also Caserta F1, a mini savoy cabbage which I hope will require less space and is ready in as little as 70 days. I though I might use this for inter-cropping. I might inter-crop this under the beans!
- Calabrese – I have a couple of varieties which I have gotten free from Garden Magazines. One in particular I received was Beaumont which I will try this year.
- Cauliflower – I don’t eat cauliflower myself, this is for Sam so we will buy a few plants rather than starting from seed.
- Sprouting Broccoli – Last year I bought a season long collection which contained Early Purple and Tenderstem but didn’t get a chance to give them a go (I will be more organised this year!).
- Kale – Again, not a massive fan, this is more for Sam but of all the varieties I prefer Cavalo Nero.
- Orientals – This will include Pak Choi, Choi Sum, Broccoli Raab, Komatsuma, Chinese Cabbage and any other random oriental vegetables I may have in my seed boxes (I seem to get a lot of these free from Gardening Magazines)
Where the brassicas have been, will be squash and other cucurbits. I am going to be trying 3/4 varieties of winter squashes and two varieties of courgette. I am also going to give melons another go but will cover them with cloches to ensure they get the temperatures they need. I will dot sweetcorn amongst the squashes to save on space.
- Squash – Sweetmax , A butternut variety that I did last year. I am so pleased with the results that I am doing them again this year. Trying Honey Bear, Uchiki kuri and Turks Turban this year.
- Pumpkin – I am giving pumpkin a go again this year. The first and only time I tried growing pumpkin, they were the most tasteless things I had ever had. But I am going to try a new variety which supposedly is quite sweet – Small Sugar
- Courgettes – All my courgette seeds come free from Garden magazines so I never need to buy them, however Sam picked up a couple of unusual types for 50p at Wyevale in the winter so we are giving them a go.
- Melon – Melba
- Sweetcorn – The best sweetcorn I had was a couple of years ago and they were plants bought from the garden centre but I am going to try a couple of varieties from scratch.
I am also going to be using one bed to try the many varieties of lettuce I have accrued from Garden Magazines – maybe I can do a trial of lettuce seeds!
The parsnip bed and carrot bed are also located on my plot so they will remain where they normally are. As the parsnip bed was used last year for parsnips, I remove half the compost and spread it over the other raised beds and then re-fill the parsnip bed with new compost to ensure there isn’t a large build up of pest and disease.
- Parsnips – Last year we found that Countess was a good producer so we are sticking with this.
- Carrots – This year I am trying Favour and Nantes and I may even try a purple variety!
The tomatoes will be going into the new growhouse that we will be putting up next to the shed. I don’t want to put them into the polytunnel as last year they got blight and I don’t want any lingering spores to contaminate this crop.
The carrot planter that we used last year (where I unfortunately got an infestation of carrot root fly) will be used for spring onions and our mini grow houses will be used for some chilli peppers (Sam looks after the chilli peppers).
I like to use the larger plot to grow the crops that I am likely to store such as potatoes, onions and garlic. There is a large plot for the potatoes and other roots such as beetroot and celeriac. I have two spots for maincrop potatoes as I am carry out a trial on green manure vs well-rotted manure.
- Earlies – The first earlies will probably be planted up in potato bags rather than in the ground. The second earlies, I haven’t decided on variety yet. I shall be heading off to a potato day in Whitchurch at the end of this month!
- Maincrop – Sarpo Mira, this variety did really well last year and resisted the blight whilst my tomatoes suffered so I am going to keep on with these!
- Novelty – Sam wants to have a go at growing a blue potato – not sure why?!
- Celeriac – I struggle to grow celeriac from seed so I will probably buy some plants from the garden centre. However, I do have some Monarch seeds which, if I find time, I may try again.
- Swede – This is another plant I don’t seem to have much luck with but I have some left over Best of All that I will have a go at or failing that – back to the garden centre.
- Beetroot – Again this is a vegetable I get a lot of free seed for. Mainly Chioggia and Boltardy.
- Sweet potato – I wanted to give this a go this year. I am not sure about varieties yet but will probably buy some plants from the garden centre to get me started and see what they grow like.
The 2nd large plot is reserved for onions, garlic, shallots and leeks. One side is being used for autumn planting and the other side for spring-planting.
- Garlic – I have used bulbs from what I grew last year, but I can’t remember what the varieties are. However, I know that they have a good flavour so I am sticking with it. (Lets hope this mild weather doesn’t prevent them from forming cloves!)
- Onions – For the autumn planting I used Shakespeare and for summer I shall use Stuttergart Giant. I used these last year and they formed lovely bulbs that stored well. I shall also plant a red onion, Red Baron.
- Shallots – For autumn planting I used Jermor and for Spring, Sam wants to try a ‘Banana’ shallot like the chefs use so I shall be keeping my eye out for something similar.
- Leeks – I have a variety of varieties at home including Musselburgh, Lyon 2 prizetaker and Malabar which I shall continue to use this year.
The final large bed will for all my beans and a small section reserved for the brussels sprout. I have learnt the hard way of the space that brussels sprouts need so I am building a special enclosure for them.
- Brussels Sprouts – Camelot and Evesham Special give me a good long grwoing season.
- Broad beans – After trying a few varieties we have decided we prefer a dwarf variety so we are trying Robin Hood and we also have some Red Epicure from last season to use up
- Peas – We have some Amabassador left over from last year but this year we would also like to try Meteor and Onward
- Runner beans – We have decided to try scarlet empire this year.
- Dwarf Beans – Every year I get safari. The beans are excellent and very fine.
- Borlotti Beans – I always have two varieties, this year Supremo and Lamon
- Climbing beans (for drying) – Blue Lake for haricots. Very productive last year. This year I am trying the variety Coco blanc a rames
- Chickpeas and Lentils – Both from the Eden Project. I saw them and thought they would be interesting to try.
The polytunnel will be reserved for other greenhouse crops such as cucumbers, aubergines and peppers.
- Aubergines – Black Beauty
- Peppers – I always try a variety of peppers to see what turns out the best. Last year, Romano was a good producer and King of the North. I am also giving California wonder a go.
- Cucumbers – I have an indoor cucumber Louisa and an outdoor Marketmore. I tried the marketmore last year and was very happy with it so am doing it again.
There are two asparagus beds – one that I started which is surrounded by Strawberries. However, the asparagus didn’t come up last year and I don’t know what I did wrong so if nothing comes up this year then I shall write it off and plant more strawberries!
The second asparagus bed was planted by the previous owner of the plot but as that part of the plot had been uncultivated for a couple of years, I only just discovered it in May! So I need to get it cleared of weeds before the spears starting showing!
It doesn’t leave much room for anything else – I really want to try jerusalem artichoke aand some other tubers like Oca and Yacon but until I start getting everything planted I wont know if I have the room for them!