Ma and I have been hashing out plans for this season of growing and the sad truth is, I need more room but I’m not going to get more room because one allotment is enough (would love another half for production crops but I truly don’t have the time and the waiting list at my site is now running at about 5 years, maybe more). So this is the space I have and we just have to maximise it.
So let’s talk crops.
First the perennials. Blueberries, plums, gooseberries, raspberries, rhubarb, alpine strawberries, boysenberries, blackcurrants, black berries. We’ve expanded the amount of strawberries we’re growing this year and new is my little cherry tree. We need to look after it and hope it produces, I think the lemon and lime tree may have died, but we’ll see. I’m expecting a smaller year for the plums and boysenberries, because I need to seriously prune both of them and raspberries because of moving a bed.
I’d like to try again with wild garlic, garlic chives and maybe even Egyptian walking onions and Taunton Dean kale. However, they are maybe’s not must haves.
In terms of herbs, we have rosemary (normal and bbq), lemon verbena, chives, oregano (common which is – currently trying to colonise the plot and hot and spicy), sage and blackcurrant sage. We have lots of mints (black, lime, strawberry, garden, spearmint, pineapple and so on), winter savoury, thyme (lemon, ordinary, lemon curd and orange), the olive herb, hyssop, and camomile lawn. Last year there was also camomile but I don’t know it that will come back. We also have lots of lavender (mostly hidcote) in the rose garden and wild area and some edelweiss at the back. Right at the back of the plot there’s lemon balm knocking about as well.
I don’t really think I need to add much more to it to be honest, but we’ll see when Urban Herbs opens it’s doors next month! I will of course grow basil, parsley, dill and coriander next year but with the exception of the Greek basil nothing too outlandish and just the seeds I have from gardening mags and in the case of the dill from my saved seed.
For the veg, I’ll start in the order I’ll sow them but this will go all over the place, so first up are the things I sowed on New Year’s Day, broad beans, sweet peas and leeks. Again no particular care taken with the varieties, just what I had, so the super aquadulce for broad beans, singin’ the blue sweet peas and elefant leeks, they are all in the polytunnel and may or may not be growing well. They are in the hands of the gods of gardening.
Next up for indoor sowing on a heat mat and growing on in the polytunnel are aubergines (again from free seed so it’ll probably be black beauty) and peppers (lipstick from Real Seeds). I have attempted both before but I bought the plants. We did get peppers but not aubergines. These two will fill a bed in the polytunnel so we’ll see how we do.
Sowing times get all confused but when I’m back on the plot in March I’ll sow spinach in the poly for an early spring crop and start with peas as well, we are growing Oskar and American wonder both from Real Seeds and both early dwarf peas. The first sowing of carrots will be the tricolour ones I’ve been growing for a couple of years and some chantenay again from whatever time I have in the seed box. I’ll sow another bed as soon as I have one free and they will also be free seeds so whatever I have probably autumn king or nantes. I’ll also sow radishes and lettuce and I went a bit crazy with seed this year, usually I just use the free seeds but I was seduced by Real Seeds ‘Mystery Mix of Radishes’, so we’ll be sowing them and seeing what we get. I also bought some lettuces that are good for cold weather so I’ll grow them in spring and again in the poly in autumn. For the rest we’ll get what we get. We’ll also grow beetroots and as usual we’ll just use the free seed packets.
The garlic is already in the ground, we have three beds this year, including elephant garlic and some of the garlic we grew last year and it’s all the early type designed to be ready in May and June to avoid the worse of the rust. We also have a few shallots in a bed, and in late March, I’ll so some salad leaves and chard in the other half of the bed. My seed potatoes are chitting and we’re growing nicola as a second early and rooster as a main crop, we’ll grow in pots and get what we get.
Coming into summer crops, melons, we’re going to sow early indoors and see if we can do better than last year, and we’re grow cucumbers in the poly (variety to be determined) and our usual mix outside, boothby’s blonde, early fortune and wautoma.
I love growing tomatoes and will dedicate four beds to them this year, roughly 40 plants (maybe more because I always seem to have extra plants!). This year for cherry tomatoes, we’ll grow gardeners sweetheart, if I could only grow one cherry tomato, this would be it. For a yellow, Ma has vetoed the millefleur because she found it too fiddly (my friend Sue loves this one so she has saved some seed). I think I’m going for galina and the chocolate cherry for fun. For bigger tomatoes, we’ll grow amish paste, orange banana and new to me are mosvich, which is extra hardy and latah a determinate variety. With the plan being that I’ll have a bed of tomatoes that don’t need too much attending too. We’ll see how that goes. All those seeds are from Real Seeds but I’ll also grow tigerella, marmande and cour di bue from saved seed.
For courgettes and summer squash, we will grow an early prolific straightneck, a patty pan and two courgettes, other than the straightneck I’ve not determined varieties. Winter squash is a return to old favourites too, we’ll grow hokkaido, Waltham butternut, boston, honeybear and I think the new squash on the block will be Queensland blue, don’t quote me on that though because at the time of writing, my seed box isn’t where I am!
What we will do differently this year is beans. On the winter squash beds, we’ll grow lazy housewife, gigantes and Cherokee Trail of Tears for drying. The heat was hard for them this year but we did get a good-ish crop and liked them. We’re also going to grow carlin peas to see how they do. For french beans we are doing, green, yellow and purple beans all dwarf varieties.
We’re going to have another go at sweet potatoes, same type as last year but outside.
We’ll grow the winter veg as usual, chard, kale, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, swede, turnips and maybe broccoli, I’m going to try and grow from seed. Again, I’m going to use the free seed packets.
Finally, I’ll sow some more zinnias, nasturtiums and poached eggs plants. I’m expecting all the self sown flowers to come up as usual!