The task of preparing my growing-plan is harder this year because I now have two areas to cultivate - my own garden and the new plot where I'm helping an elderly couple to keep their garden in good shape. Incidentally, the new plot is situated in a road called Courtmoor Avenue, so I shall probably use that name to refer to it.
|This is me, digging. I'm getting lots of practice at this at present....|
The Courtmoor plot is an unknown quantity, because I don't yet know very much about its soil quality, light levels, shelter from winds, ease (or difficulty) of watering, slug/snail population etc. The owners tell me that until a couple of years ago they used to get a trailer-load of manure delivered each year, so the soil ought to be pretty good. It certainly feels good - light and crumbly without being too dry. There are some quite big fruit trees in the garden (including a huge old Bramley apple), so shade could be a problem, but this is why I have chosen to cultivate the part furthest from the trees.
|Courtmoor plot with large Apple trees - Bramley at Left. Notice position of green trug-tub.|
|Notice again the green trug-tub. The big Bramley tree is out-of-shot to the Left.|
My own garden is of course much more familiar and I know exactly how it performs (I've lived here since 1991). It has its share of problems too - such as low levels of direct sunlight, a big tree in the neighbouring property which sucks out lots of moisture - and then there is the constant threat of damage by badgers and foxes, who often dig big holes if I let them! But its biggest advantage is that it's right outside my back door, meaning that I can tend to it whenever I like, at a moment's notice.
|My own garden, with raised beds and open space for containers (e.g. for potatoes as seen here)|
The Courtmoor plot is not far away (not much more than a quarter of a mile, I'd say), but going there will involve a conscious decision and a few minutes' walk, so it won't be like pottering around on my own property. I plan to spend about half a day per week there at present, possibly two half days at certain times of the year, such as during April and early May when lots of sowing and planting takes place.
My overall plan is this:- In the Courtmoor plot I'll grow low maintenance crops and ones that need more space, and in my own gardens I'll grow ones that require more attention, as well as ones that will do better in my raised beds - which are relatively easy to protect from animal and insect pests, using nets and mesh. I think it also makes sense to have the herbs and salad crops close to home, since these are things we often want on the spur of the moment.
So, here's the split then (first draft!)
Potatoes - including at least one Maincrop variety
Parsnips (very low maintenance)
Leeks and possibly onions and/or shallots
Big brassicas - Brussels Sprouts and cabbages (will benefit from plenty of space)
Climbing beans (there is enough space for me to grow a few of several different varieties)
French beans (the plot-owners particularly like these)
Squashes (I have never found enough room or a suitable space in my own garden)
New Zealand Spinach (I've not tried this, but the plot-owners have made a special request for it)
My own garden:
Potatoes in containers - Early varieties. (Container-grown ones are easier to protect)
Salads, including at least lettuce, endive, radicchio and radishes
Herbs (often required in the kitchen at short notice)
Carrots (will need protection with Enviromesh - easier to provide in a raised bed)
Broad Beans (easier to support and protect in a raised bed)
Runner Beans (these need frequent picking during harvest period)
Purple Sprouting Broccoli (ditto)
Short-lived brassicas, e.g. Brokali and Calabrese
Tomatoes (high-maintenance and vulnerable. Will grow in containers as usual)
Asparagus & Rhubarb (perennials, already in permanent containers)
NB: These lists are not necessarily fixed! If you have any suggestions for a better distribution, please let me know.
By the way, I'm also thinking carefully about where to raise my young plants. In theory, many of them could be grown at the Courtmoor plot to save carting them to and fro, but I think I will probably raise them mainly in my own garden, where I will be able to supervise them more closely. Also, I already have all the necessary coldframes and mini-greenhouses at my own property.
|A good selection of crop-protection 'hardware'.|
Right, so those are the plans for now. Let's see how things actually turn out...
Sounds like a good plan and makes total sense, really looking forward to your updates as it sounds excitingReplyDelete
All sounds good. Question abiut the beans in your offsite plot. Will you be able to get there often enough to harvest? Ie will weekly be enough.ReplyDelete
The owners of the property will probably be able to pick some of the beans - my intention is to share the produce with the. Perhaps I should aim to grow mainly shelling beans there?Delete
It’s a learning curve isn’t it? You seem to have thought things through well.ReplyDelete
Ill watch the progress of both plots with interest I have a feeling that Courtmoor lying fallow for a while will yield good cropsReplyDelete
The Courtmoor plot was actually in cultivation right up until the middle of last Summer, David - just not very well maintained due to the owners' advancing years and ill-health.Delete
It will be interesting to see how you get on and also what you think of the New Zealand spinach. We grew it last year and it didn't bolt and grew well. It did however have quite a strange texture which we didn't enjoy eating. I would prefer eating Chard once the spinach has gone to seed. Sarah xReplyDelete
Yes, I'm "looking forward to" trying the NZ Spinach, but I'm prepared to be underwhelmed!Delete
Hi Mark! Some exciting plans and makes sense totally! I am surprised you can grow rhubarb and asparagus in pots! Maybe, will give it a go.ReplyDelete
Are you growing any beans for drying? I am planning to sow a few this year!
Hi Sasha; Yes, I think I will grow a few beans for drying - maybe "Cherokee Trail of Tears". I had some success with those, but have never been able to afford the space to grow enough. Also maybe some "Firetongue" borlotti for using as flageolets.Delete
Glad to see you back Mark. I always found a great deal of advice on your blog and look forward to learning from you in the coming year. AnnReplyDelete
Hi Ann; Thank you for those kind words! It's nice to know that people find my ramblings useful sometimes...Delete
I'd highly recommend your plan to grow seedlings at home. I certainly do that for my allotment as it makes it so much easier to care for them. If you like cauliflowers, now that you have more space, I'd suggest some winter ones that become ready around March/April when there's not much else available and not many bugs about that I find tend to infest the heads of summer varieties.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the recommendation about cauliflowers. I have never grown them before - mainly for space reasons. And, tbh, I didn't realise there were Winter & Summer ones - I thought they all grew in the Winter!Delete
I've grown Walcheren for the last few years and will do again this. I'm also going to try Triomphant (I picked up some seeds cheaply at the Harrogate Autumn Show) which according to the blurb is supposedly ready Dec/Jan so maybe homegrown cauli with Xmas dinner this year?Delete
Interesting! I'll look out for them. Home-grown cauli AS WELL AS Brussels sprouts (and Parsnips?) for Christmas dinner would be lovely.Delete
Oh yes....home grown potatoes, Brussels, carrots and parsnips, together with some swede of course! And last year we had the added bonus of home made apple sauce from our first crop of apples <:o)Delete
It's good to see you back Mark, I have missed your great advice and ideas. Good luck with the new plot, I'm sure it will flourish in your good hands.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Cath! I'll do my best to come up with some more ideas and tips for you.Delete
Hi Mark, been a long time since I dropped by. Life and all that... exciting time for you! A new plot to develop I'll try to keep an eye on that. Re New Zealand Spinach, I've grown it for years and it does have a rather succulent texture, leave are thick and "meaty". Very prolific, and since the first year, I've not had to plant it as it drops a little seed here and there and I've propagated via seedling volunteers. Not my favourite raw in salads but it steams and freezes nicely for soups, lasagne, etc.ReplyDelete
Hi David; It's good of you to drop by - and thanks very much for the info about NZ Spinach. I've ordered some seed for it now, so we'll see how things go.Delete
Looks to be an exciting new project Mark.Have you considered using an azada (digging hoe)on the open plot Much quicker and less effort than a spade or fork.Not sure why they haven't caught on more in the uk.ReplyDelete
I grow Good King Henry and for some reason thought that it was our equivalent of NZ spinach (and therefore by definition a good thing)but from googling I see that it's a different plant.
Hi David; Yes, I have seen those Azada things advertised, but to be honest I don't think I need one. The digging is easy on my new plat, and once I have cleared the ground an Azada would probably be used only very occasionally.Delete