October is an interesting time in most kitchen gardens, as many foods are being harvested before the winter, and others are being sown or planted out. It’s also a time when I start thinking about the plants I’d like to grow next year – and of course I always want to grow more than we have space and funds for.
To combat this, we have had to come up with a sensible way of deciding what to grow.
Step one: Make a wish list
If space is limited, I think it’s best to start with vegetables, fruits etc that everyone in the household loves – it cuts down on waste and makes a glut less of a chore.
So I asked Beau about favourite veggies, herbs, fruit etc that can be grown in this country and he voted for:
I like all of the above, and in addition this year I would vote/wish for:
- Globe artichoke
- Fine beans
- All salad veg
- Any fruit really
Step 2: Narrow down your list
After looking at what we love to scoff, we then have to look at the practical side of things. For starters, can we grow it more cheaply than we can buy it at the supermarket? Also, do we have the space, and can we easily and cheaply provide the correct growing conditions?
That check ruled out asparagus and globe artichokes as they can be expensive to get hold of, need permanent beds that require a lot of preparation, and also don’t tend to give you much food per square metre in their first year after planting. Cauliflower is also ruled out as it can take up to a year to grow, although I might plant just the one if I get some free seeds.
Peas are tricky. You need a fair amount of room to grow a significant amount of peas, and one of our cats has a serious thing for digging them up at the roots which they rarely survive. However, I do have loads of pea seeds left over from last year so I’m going for a compromise and growing a few in pots. We will mostly eat them raw in salads. I’ll also be growing sugar snap peas which are higher yielding, bigger plants and you get even more per square metre because you eat the pods too.
Carrots and root veg in general don’t grow very well in our garden – this is the first year in at least a decade that the soil’s been cultivated and it’s currently a mix of half bricks, broken tiles, rocks and clay for the best part. I’ll be growing stubby carrots under cover to keep them away from the dreaded carrot root fly, as I have spare seeds and insect mesh already – it worked ok this year.
I haven’t found a cheap source of garlic, and suspect the cat would dig it up anyway, so I’ll just have to give it a miss. Unless someone has a few spare cloves for planting in pots (would be really happy with 4 or so) and would like to do a swap (hint hint).
We already have rhubarb starting to grow, and I have seeds for nearly everything else, either saved from this year or last year, or as received as swaps, presents or free gifts.
I’ve just done a deal to get a few raspberry canes for about £1 each, and strawberry plants for 32p each, and have also taken a risk and ordered seeds for a new strain of broccoli that’s supposed to be good for growing in small gardens.
Step 3: Remember your star performers (but only if you like them)
Finally, we’ve looked at what grows really well in our garden. This year, it was Purple Top Milan turnips and borlotti beans, which we both like a lot – so we’ll be growing them from saved seed as well.
Should be a tasty 2013.
What are you planning on growing?