I bought a broccoli for the first time last week in ages. A strange triumph to some but it sure felt good to me that we had fresh broccoli and kale through the winter. But it got me thinking, if I could manage that much (by accident) during the winter, then what could I manage with a bit of planning during the summer? What would I need to plant in order to keep us in veg this year? A whole heap is what. But I keep telling myself to be clever about things and not overdo it in the big scheme.
I don’t want plants that require I do a lot of digging. Rules out Jerusalem artichokes and horseradish this year so.
I want plants that once established, aren’t demanding and are going to look after themselves. That rules out spuds – I just know I won’t earth them up when needed and will be otherwise occupied come blight weather.
I want plants that are going to give me bang for my buck and earn their keep. I’ve decided that this year, that rules out onions. I can get them cheaply enough in supermarkets and I really haven’t had much luck with them in the garden yet.
I want plants that I love to eat. That rules out turnips and parsnips. They are fine in stews and parsnip crisps are great but I have limited space and really want to capitalise on it. Besides, they mean more digging.
So with all that in mind, my uncle and I headed to the garden centre for coffee and a crossword. The Little Paddler and I were late yet again. (This will come as no surprise to those that know me in the flesh.) I found him at the till asking the girls to put aside a viburnum for him. It made his day to find it. He has been admiring granny’s for a while now and threatening to take cuttings every time it comes in to flower. After a brutal attempt at the crossword we hit the seed stands and the two of us cut loose. I tried to bear all my criteria in mind and stayed away from all the lovely heirloom potatoes that kept catching my eye and kept my back to the onion sets and garlic bulbs and horseradish roots. I may however have been a little enthusiastic on the rest of the seed selection. Especially when you take in to account that I still have half opened packets from last year. But sure look-it, who doesn’t love a bit of experimenting in the garden?
I tried to keep to cherry tomatoes as I felt I stood more of a chance getting them ripened. But they were offering certain packets of seeds free for every two packets of a particular brand. Who am I to refuse a freebie? In went the salad tomatoes and the cauliflower despite their dismal performance last year. I am a sucker for dry roasted curried cauliflower – don’t knock it till you have tried it. I didn’t like the round courgettes last year so I have gone back to the more traditional shaped fruit. And I am a sucker for unusually coloured vegetables, so in went golden cherry tomatoes, purple beans and salad leaves and borlotto climbing beans. Some of the free packets were flowers so of course I picked them up. Purely for the bio-diversity aspect of attracting pollinators you understand.
So here is what I got:
Chili Pepper: Tabasco
Climbing Bean: Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco (Firetongue)
Dwarf/French Bean: Purple Teepee
Salad Leaves: A mix selection of Pak Choi / Tatsoi / Greek Cress / Mizuna / Mustard
Sweet Peppers: Mini Bell Mixed F1 Hybrid / Sweet Boneta
Tomatoes: Ildi / Harbinger / Sweet Aperitif / Sweet Baby
Antirrhinum/Snapdragons: Lucky Lips
Malva: Common Mallow
Sweet Pea: Heirloom Bicolour Mixed
After going through everything new and leftover from last year, I realise, of course, that I forgot aubergines. I have taken up my dad’s project of trying to grow aubergines. They fruited last year for me but were largely inedible. I hope for greater things this year. But I seem to live in hope as a general rule. This year, I shall attempt to learn from last year’s mistakes and plant little and often. Could someone kindly remind me of this more than sensible plan when the enthusiasm overtakes the common sense?