Thursday, 19 January 2017

Plans for 2017

Hello again, I've re-surfaced! To be honest with you, for a few weeks I completely lost interest in blogging and (even worse), gardening. Maybe I had a severe dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder or something? Fortunately I have recently begun to consider some plans for my garden during 2017, so I thought it would be a good time to put together a blogpost...

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.

Parasol mushroom

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!


  1. Very good to hear from you. Your plans all sound logical and reasonable. Change is inevitable, growth is optional I once read somewhere. Especially apropos to a gardener!

  2. Glad that you ar back. Daily blog posts must turn into a drudge. I manage no more than three a week. I also write a few together when I have an idea and save them to trickle them on if they are not date specific. For instance I have a few new for 2017 in the wings. It also helps now I post just photos on a Wednesday. Also don't be afraid to diversify away from the garden. Don't disappear completely as you would be missed!

  3. I usually grow all of my herbs from wilkos, they seem to do ok in pots

  4. I was just thinking about you the other day and hoping to see a post from you soon, welcome back! I know how you feel, sometimes it seems like my garden is in charge rather than me, I do get rather overambitious in my plans. I made some adjustments to what I grow, similar to what you've decided. I'm looking forward to reading more about your garden, whenever you choose to do so, please just don't stop, you would be missed.

  5. Lovely to see you back Mark! I did miss your blogs but quite understand having been in that position myself. I think you are absolutely right to go for quality not quantity both in your growing plans and in your blogs!

  6. Pleased to find a blog from you again, quite understand how you feel, happens to us all, will look out for your blogs as when you feel like being in touch. Good luck with your new plans.

  7. Good plans. It is OK to take some time off of blogging and gardening as well. I did it too. Besides, my garden is, at the moment, covered with 40 cm of snow. What can I do there anyway? And it is too early to sow anything in the house too. Nice to see you back.

  8. Welcome back. I was wondering how your garden was faring. Ours is frozen at the moment; crunchy lawn and all! Everything is in hibernation, So are we!
    I understand completely that you won't replace your two remaining old raised beds. That must have been very hard work last year.
    I have decided to stick to herbs and cherry tomatoes this year. Lettuce and even lamb lettuce was a catastrophe last season.

  9. Hi Mark, this is why I can't find things to write about on my blog. I'm not doing anything new lately. I feel like I am on "hold" or something. Just nothing new going on with me. And once you are scrounging around to find something to write about the fun all goes out of it.

  10. Like the beans poles. Still got to cut ours down ready for next year.

  11. Hi Mark.Combination of seeds from Wilkos and large cheap packets from Spanish/other holidays work very well!

  12. Seeds from Wilkos, Aldi, Lidl, Poundland etc are perfectly fine and in the majority of cases will be identical to those sold by the 'name' companies, although significantly cheaper. Lidl tend to have some different varieties to everyone else.

  13. Now dont you dare stop ! All you need is a little bit more sunshine and blue sky and you'll be pottering around out in your fantastic veg garden again . Let me tell you that spring is on the way for you ..down here the season's wheel is turning , Cornwall ) and there are snowdrops , cowslips and daffodils already blooming :) Order in some more seed and plant catalogues - get excited by it all again !

  14. Hi

    Just been reading your blog, very interesting. I like the raised bed/gravel path look and the advantage of not getting mucky for winter picking.
    My sprouts started a bit small too, better seem to be getting better further up the stalk with more rain etc.
    I've used Wilko seeds before, and B&Q own, not had any issues with them to be honest.
    I've added link to your blog on mine, you can find it here I hope that's ok.
    Look forward to reading more.


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