Planning To Plant

It’s that time of year again when it is too cold to venture into the greenhouse let alone the garden, but I am planning what’s going to grow this coming year.

Looking back at 2011

Garlic 2011 was my third year growing my own, and to be honest it was the most hit and miss year to date. For example, my peas normally go bonkers crazy and we get a freezer full. However this year they got some kind of mildewy mould and all died over a weekend. The courgettes were slow this year and only really flourished after September’s wet then warm spell. Alas this late flourish coincided with us going on holiday so I had to hastily give them away so they didn’t rot on the plant whilst we were away.

Parsnips are still refusing to grow for me! I’ve tried them in the raised bed in the past and last year I even tried them in a massive pot but they just won’t grow. Weird because their close cousin the carrot really thrives in my raised bed.

I had slightly more luck with my toms this last year. In the past, I have always had a greenhouse full of healthy plants which I pinch out as instructed, but very few fruits on them. This year I faired a little better, ooh maybe a couple of dozen fruits each plant, but I was using quite dull varieties such as Gardeners Delight. I really want to grow interesting varieties which look and taste different but alas I haven’t managed yet!

Planning for 2012

My garlic is going in this week – I always plant it in the raised bed in January/ early Feb as it seems to love a bit of frost. Shallots will follow mid/late February.

I’m going to move the peas this year. I like to grow a lot and they do take up a lot of space in my smallish raised bed (it is about 3m x 1m). So I will start them off on the windowsill and then in the greenhouse as I always do, but I will plant them out around the side of the greenhouse. In theory this will give them something to climb up, plus have the added bonus of some much needed shade in the summer. Seriously that greenhouse can get unbearable in the height of summer! I just need to think about what to put them in. I was thinking about guttering (I use this in the greenhouse for salad leaves) but peas have long root systems so I am not sure if this would work. All suggestions welcome!

I tried chard for the first time last year and it was the only thing which got eaten. You never see a slug or snail in our garden normally. So I am going to try again this year with rainbow chard and move the big tubs nearer the veg bed so I can keep a close eye on them.

RhubarbOh it turns out that the rhubard variey which I planted two years ago is actually a forcing variety – which explains why I get such thin stalks. So I have covered it with buckets to see if it will force – if not I will replace it with a bigger, chunkier variety.

The jury is out on potatoes – we eat so few that I am not sure they are worth the space. Chillis are in – I grew just one variety last year but want to mix it up a bit as I seem to put chilli in most things these days! I think peppers might be out though – they never do really well in my greenhouse and I want to try something new. We’ve really gone crazy for aubergine this past year- I love it in curry, stew, as dip- anything! So I am looking for a couple of varieties to try in the greenhouse. Seeds of Italy and Sew Seeds both have a selection which I am pondering at the minute!

Nantes carrots and courgettes are a staple and love my bed so they can stay. And I want to get the hang of sewing my salad leaves periodically so that I don’t have a massive glut one week and none for the next month! I nearly cracked it last year by sewing into plastic guttering. By sewing into sections of the guttering a couple of weeks apart I should get fresh leaves summer-long. I think I will be trying new cucumber varieties this year as well as the Melonie variety I tried last year gave me massive plants and no cucumbers- grrr.

Just one last problem…

The grey squirrels which live in the park over the road have finally made it into the garden. Over the past couple of years I have noticed them getting closer to the house and just this winter one seems to have made the street-and our gardens- home. My worry is that it will dig up my bulbs of garlic and my young plants. Even worse in the summer I have to leave the greenhouse windows and door open to get air circulating so I am already dreading the day I get home to find one trapped in there gorging on my salad and aubergines! So if anyone knows of a humane way to repel them I would love to know.

So that’s it – it’s all there in my head I just can’t wait to get out there and get stuck in!

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