Plan No.1. At this time of year in both 2015 and 2016 I was getting ready to build more raised beds, replacing old decaying timber planks with much more substantial constructions.
|Old beds in the foreground, new beds in the background|
In theory I should be doing that again this year, because I have two more beds very much in need of attention. However, I have decided not to replace the old beds at all, but to remove them altogether. The main reason for this is that I have felt over the last few years that my garden has become overcrowded. It has been jammed full of pots and containers hosting tomatoes, chillis, potatoes, blueberries and miscellaneous other fruit and veg at various stages. Now the plan is to create a flat (shingle-surfaced) open space where those two raised beds currently sit, and use it for positioning the pots of potatoes etc, which will of course leave more space elsewhere. There's an obvious problem here: I'll have to be disciplined enough not to fill this new space AS WELL AS the places where the pots used to go!
Plan No.2 is to grow fewer types of fruit and vegetables, but to grow them better. I am going to avoid all the things that have performed poorly for me in the past and concentrate on the ones that do well, or have high Value For Space Rating (VSR). The Raspberries are Out; the Strawberries are Out; Kale and Summer Broccoli are Out; Dwarf Beans are Out, as are Cabbages other than Red ones. Definitely In though are Runner Beans, Parsnips, Carrots, Lettuce and Beetroot. Marginal ones include Leeks and Brussels Sprouts. (My Brussels sprouts this Winter have been pathetic). We'll see if I can find space for them, but I won't be too upset if I can't. I'm not planning to grow anything radically different this year either (e.g. the Cucamelons I tried last year but was uninspired by). At present the only new-to-me crop I am planning to grow this year is Red Onions.
Plan No.3 is to spend less money on seeds - though I don't think I have ever been particularly extravagant in this respect (especially over the last two years, when I have had the luxury of lots of free Trial seeds from Marshalls). Still, I am going to sow some of the really cheap seeds from shops like Wilkos, and see how they fare. Only this week I bought a selection of seeds from Wilko's, priced in some cases as low as 25p per pack. They will probably be OK. I'll also have a look in places like Aldi, Lidl and The Range whenever the opportunity next arises, without making a special trip.
Plan No.4 is to spend less time on blogging - and the attendant photography. I hope my regular readers won't feel too let down by this, but I really think that my posts had begun to get a bit "samey", since my basic gardening approach differs little from year to year. I shall attempt to post something at intervals of about a week or so, or whenever something significant occurs. For instance, this year I am going to use bean-poles made of Hazel instead of the bamboo I have been using for many years, so I'll let you know how that goes. I got the beanpoles from my local Countryside Services department (who very kindly delivered them to my doorstep!), so I may have to return the favour by doing a bit of volunteering for them.
|My Hazel bean-poles|
Plan No.5 is to get more "into" fungi - both in terms of studying them and in terms of foraging them for culinary purposes. I expect that a book I was given for Christmas will be a big help in this respect. It is called "Edible Mushrooms - A forager's guide to the wild fungi of Britain, Ireland and Europe" by Geoff Dann. The best fungi don't appear until later in the year (Autumn is the best time for them), so this will be something for Summer-time and beyond, I expect - once all the sowing and planting has been done.
My post is beginning to sound too much like Teresa May's 12-point plan for Brexit, so I'm going to leave it there for now!