Sunday, 15 May 2016


Sometimes when I tell people that I have a veg-plot they ask me what I grow. My answer is usually along the lines of "How long have you got?" or "Pretty much everything". I've been thinking to myself how lucky I am to have so many nice things to eat in such a small space. I know this doesn't just happen, it has to be planned. This makes it all the more rewarding. As they say, "It's nice when a plan comes together".

The plot enjoying the rain on Tuesday (10 May)

It has never been my intention to make us self-sufficient in fruit and veg - it needs a lot more space than I have to make that feasible - but I know how much nicer vegetables taste when they are freshly-picked, and I'm fairly sure they have more vitamins in them at that point, so my aim is to augment rather than replace the food we buy at the shops. Just for fun, I have decided to list the fruit and vegetables that are growing in my garden today:


Vegetables and Herbs
Broad Bean
Runner Bean
French Bean
Borlotto Bean
Baby Leaf Salad - incl Red Mustard and Mizuna
Brussels Sprout
Spring Onion
Sweet Pepper
Winter Savory
Celery Leaf
Wild Garlic

That's 7 types of fruit and 40 types of vegetable or herb. Not bad, I'd say, considering that my garden is only about 10 metres square. Did you notice that I didn't list Purple Sprouting Broccoli? That's because I haven't yet sown any seeds for it this year, so I can't claim that it is growing NOW. It soon will be...

Regular readers of my blog will know that my policy is always to "spread my bets" as it were - to grow not only many types of plant, but also usually several varieties of each. Things respond differently to different weather patterns and different pests and diseases, so if one type fails another may do well. Novice gardeners who slavishly follow instructions in books and on seed-packets are often dismayed by poor results, but after a while (if they don't give up immediately!) they begin to understand how things work, and adjust accordingly. In a garden (particularly here in the UK), things are never the same from one year to the next, and one has to make adjustments, and get a "feel" for what to do and when. If you just went by official sowing dates and Last Frost Dates you would probably not be successful!

Tues, May 10th 2016 - steady rain; hosepipe definitely redundant!

It also has to be said that some plants are quite picky about the conditions in which will grow, and it is unreasonable to expect a plant to thrive in all types of soil, or in sun as well as shade. Some plants never do well in my garden. For instance Spinach (I love it, Jane hates it). It always bolts before delivering any worthwhile harvest. (Not the Perpetual Spinach. That does OK). Likewise, although I have tried several time, I have never managed to produce a Celeriac that is anything other than tiny by normal standards. Still, it's been fun experimenting!

Celeriac, my first attempt - 2011

After many years of gardening here (we've lived in the same property for 25 years now), I think I can safely say that my favourite plants to grow (and usually, though not always, the most successful) are PSB, chillis, tomatoes and Runner Beans.

Friends, readers, fellow gardeners, what are YOUR favourites and most successful veggies?


  1. You really do have a tremendous assortment of fruits and veggies you grow. And you also illustrate just how much can be grown in a relatively small area. I think you are spot on when you say a gardener has to develop a 'feel' for how and when to do things. Books are a great way to get started, but every garden and every year is truly different!

  2. That is a lot of vegetables and herbs! And your garden always looks so neat. I think I'm going to make a list of all the things that I grow. I have several pots of two varieties of basil and my favourite plant to grow is the tomato. Here the sowing is done in late December/early January.

  3. I have a similar small space to garden in and was asked today by a gardener what I am growing. Answer was "ummm...". Another gardener saw me planting radish seeds (five kinds) with my plot plan lying next to bed. She was amazed that I had actually planned and mapped out where everything was to go. If you are organized you can grow an amazing variety of vegetables and Mark, your garden is a prime example of that.

  4. Turnip greens are so easy to grow and are absolutly versatile for use: salads, stir fry, with mashed potatoes etc and are my favorite to grow almost year round. Your garden is looking lush and green and so lovely, no plans to plant pumpkins/squashes?
    Sincerely, Elza

  5. We have a very similar philosophy. Even with more space we can't be self sufficient as there are things we like to eat but can't grow either due to climate or some other reason. As for favourite crop it sort of depends when I am asked.

    1. I understand. If you asked me in Feb, I'd say PSB, but if you asked me in August it would be Runner Beans.

  6. I would have to say broccoli, I've only had 1 disappointing year with it and that was last year when our winter was warmer than normal. It's looking good so far this year.

  7. An impressive list Mark! Normally you focus on veg, how about more information on the fruit trees? In particular a fig tree that would withstand a cold climate? Interesting!

    1. David, I'm no expert on fruit trees - especially the Fig. My only one is an immature specimen which I got as a freebie from a magazine! Anyway, Figs seem to grow well enough in sheltered gardens here, so I'm hoping mine will do OK. I'll let you know in 5 years' time eh?!! :)

  8. There's nothing as good as knowing your own garden thoroughly. It's clear that your 25 years experience counts for a lot; 47 varieties of fruit, veg and herbs is amazing!

  9. My favorite crop is anything odd. If I can't find it in the non-specialty store I want to grow it! Your garden is lovely Mark. I love seeing garden over-views to see how beds look in the whole. Yours looks fantastic.


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