This year we’ll mostly be planting…

With a backlog of leftover seed approaching the size of the European grain pile, I decided that this year was a year of ‘make do’ when it came to buying seed. I have this dilemma, buy seed from an organic source but which is miles away, or buy ‘normal’ seed from a local business and put money into the local economy? With the amount of seed we need to use up I decided to pop down to the local nursery (a proper nursery mind you, not the sort of garden centre that stocks Starbucks coffee and the attendants wouldn’t know a dibber from an onion hoe, despite having sat on one) and purchase any seed we need to make up a full complement from there.

The layout this year is as below. As usual, each fifth of the plot has moved one to the left, with the roots moving over to the far right. The only major change is the removal of the jerusalem artichokes, not because we dislike them, or even for the windy effect they have – mainly because they seem hellbent on plot domination, growing a foot into the grass surrounding the patch in a year! I’m a bit of a control freak, and think veg should know their place, more importantly they should stay in their place! This year’s cash crops are the peas and beans. The locals shall, in theory, be feasting on broad beans, french beans and peas if all goes well 🙂

Starting from the left, potato-wise we have just bought , Arran Pilot and Red Duke of York first earlies, Nadine second earlies, and King Edward, Maris Piper and Valour as main crop. The main crop gave the most headache as many make naff boilers, but the Valour should see to that, the Maris Piper are great storers and King Edwards make stonking roast potatoes. The asparagus bed remains, and hopefully we’ll have our first crop this year!

On to the onion bed. We have Cipolla Barletta onions from seed, which will hopefully make a nice silver skin pickled onion. There are also Tris di Cipolle seed left over from last year which grew amazingly well, giving a lovely three colour mix of red, white and brown onions, although storage wasn’t great. They’ll make up our summer/autumn crop, and the main crop will be Bedfordshire Champion from seed, great flavour and great storers for over winter. We also have two rows of shallots, which I’m hoping will be Picasso, as they’ll be the staple ingredient for our red onions in spiced balsamic vinegar – a pickled onion that seems to be rapidly becoming a favourite in our house, and a few others! Lastly, we have Malabar leek, a disease resistant variety that weathers the winter well, Solant White garlic (good for the UK climate), and Di Firenze fennel.

On to the peas and beans – nice and simple this one – Kelvedon Wonder peas, some from left-over packets, some saved from last year and dried, and also Hurst Greenshaft. The dwarf french beans are Ferrari and Tendergreen, though I’ve made a mistake on the planting distances above and there will only be 5 rows as opposed to 7. Snap peas (mangetout) will be Reuzensuiker and Sugar Bon, a really cylindrical variety. Then we get our cash crop, 130 broad bean plants. Early broad beans are my personal favourite – on buttered toast with finely chopped fried bacon…scrummy! To try and prolong the picking season we’ve got the early cropping white seeded Monica, the high yielding green seeded Masterpiece Green Longpod, and finally the late cropping white seeded Scorpio.

The brassicas – we already have some spring cabbage in, and this year I’ll try and start our own spring cabbage and cauliflowers from seed, now that we have our greenhouses. The two varieties will be Offenham 2 spring cabbage, and All the Year Round Cauliflower – wonder why they call it that… The broccoli, savoy cabbage, round cabbage and red cabbage will all come from the local Sharpes growers in Kings Newton, if they have any spare 🙂

Then we have the roots and other oddments. Some carrots, Chantenay Red, we’ll try in raised beds that I’ve started putting together, but the ground variety will be Resistafly F1, in the possibly vain hope that they will live up to their name. The parsnips will be from our saved Hollow Crown seed, they produced gargantuan parsnips and hopefully they’ll do so again. Courgette-wise we’ve got Tondo di Piacenza, swedes are Helanor and the ever-useful beetroot is Boltardy, which has lived up to its name in the past. A couple of funky squash from the Franchi seed company are Butternut Rugosa, and the gorgeous looking orange and green striped Tonda Padana – a winter storing squash. Sweet corn will be 4×7 planted Incredible F1.

Salad veg, which will also go into raised beds this year, will be:

Spring onion – White Lisbon
Radish – Prinz Robin, Ravanello & Scarlet Globe
Lettuce – Lobjoits Green Cos & mixed salad leaves

Pumpkin, also in a raised bed, will be Racer F1.

And lastly, in the greenhouses we’ll have:

Aubergine – Violetta Lunga 2
Sweet Chilli – Dolce di Bargano
Tomatoes – undecided, but probably Shirley and one other
Cucumber – Cetriolo Melone (globe shaped) and Beth Alpha (gherkins)

That’s about it I think – we’ve got herbs to put in as well, but that’s Suz’s area 🙂 We’ve also planted another black currant and white currant bush, but I really do need to make a map of the varieties we have in there. With the snow having started to fall this afternoon, and already at 3″, I imagine tomorrow might well be a sledging day rather than a patch day, and glad of it in this weather!

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