Saturday, 23 January 2010

Preparing for the veggie year ahead

After visiting two garden centres today (not for plants but, bizarrely, camping equipment and tropical fish) my desire to be outside and gardening has moved up a gear. Coupled with a slight increase in temperature during the day, I am positively itching to unlock the shed and check my seed store.

But, my geekiness for organisation won't let me do that until I have perused Carol Klein's How to Grow Veg (published by the Royal Horticultural Society) for the umpteenth time and made numerous lists detailing what I want to grow, when it needs to be sown, transplanted, and harvested, and which varieties I should get.

Several hours later, I have a rather complicated looking chart with months at the top and veg down the side and S, T, and H in various squares. It makes sense to me, and I now feel completely prepared for the coming growing year.

This year, I am going to try growing potatoes. I find the whole 1st early, 2nd early, and maincrop thing completely baffling. As a beginner's guide (this is my interpretation), 1st early are new potatoes and they take about 10 weeks to grow ready for harvesting; 2nd early are planted at the same time and take a few weeks longer to mature; and maincrop take even longer to mature and are best for storing over the winter. See here for great growing advice.

I shall be growing a 1st early variety since I do not have a large plot and will need to harvest the potatoes by July so I can plant sweetcorn and courgettes in their place.

Here's my list of vegetables I'll be growing this year. I'll post my planting plan soon once I've decided how it will best fit into the space I have and current crop rotation. The larger vegetables (eg, broccoli) I will only grow one or two plants of.
  • Garlic, Onions, Leeks, possibly spring onions (if I remember!)
  • Broccoli (purple-spouting and calabrese), Brussel sprouts
  • Broad beans , Peas (or sugar-snaps), French climbing beans
  • Beetroot, Carrots, Swede
  • Lettuce, Tomatoes, Sweet peppers
  • Courgettes, Butternut squash, Sweetcorn
Tomorrow I shall be down my local garden centre looking for a 1st early potato and leek seeds, which both need to be started now. I will also unlock the shed to check my seed store and see what I need to buy next month.

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