Garden planning for 2011

There isn’t much to do, garden-wise in January. Mostly you just wait for the season to change, and make plans for the year ahead.

I’ll be growing as many veggies and herbs as I can again this year. Flavour is the most important factor, but I’m also looking at getting as much value for money as possible and keeping the whole thing within budget.

This year’s food gardening budget is being set at a total of £40. That’s £10 for seeds, £20 for new compost and £10 for everything else. A budget’s definitely necessary as you can easily get carried away and spend a small fortune in garden centres or online shops, ask any gardener what happens when they start looking at those tempting catalogues filled with new-season packs of seeds…

The available growing space currently isn’t big enough to completely supply the household with veggies and salad all year round, so I’ve decided not to grow potatoes, maize and onions this year. They take up too much room (or compost) and they’re pretty cheap to buy, so the space is being given to other ingredients that give a higher yield and/or cost more in the shops.

I think I’ll get the best value this year from:

  • Herbs: parsley, coriander, mint, Italian and Thai basil, wild garlic, chives, chervil, lemongrass and a few others
  • Salad veg: lettuce, rocket, spring onions, radicchio, land cress, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes etc
  • Greens: pak choi, mizuna, mini cabbages, kale, kohl rabi
  • Legumes: sugar snap peas, early/late peas, French beans, borlotto beans
  • Others: mini carrots and parsnips, Florence fennel, chillis, sweet peppers, green and yellow courgettes, winter squash

The seeds budget has pretty much been spent, but if I can get hold of some runner beans for free then I’ll grow them as well. Got me some tomato and sweetcorn seeds to swap, so let’s see.

Last year had a real element of trial and error, but the experience has helped me to learn more about the microclimate and other limitations of gardening in this spot. I’ll be taking action against some pests and diseases so that I can still grow most of my favourite things, but it’s also time to admit defeat against some problems. Garden pests and diseases are many and varied, so I’ll write about them another time.

For the moment, let’s just say that it’s not viable to grow the following on the tiny plot, for reasons of space, cost, or susceptibility to local pests/diseases:

  • Most root vegetables
  • Broad beans
  • Calabrese
  • Maincrop spinach and chard
  • Permanent plants (asparagus, rhubarb, globe artichokes)
  • Most slow growing plants (cauliflower, big brassicas)
  • Fruit trees and bushes

But that still leaves a lot of sowing and growing to be getting on with once the weather starts to warm up.

Are you growing your own this year? What are you planning to grow?

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