Planning the 2010 vegetable garden

Brr! I hope you are keeping warm and toasty in these Arctic conditions! The ground may still be solid and conditions freezing here in Essex – as in most places around the UK – but, believe it or not, gardening is still very much on my mind at the moment. OK, so there might not be much going on out there right now besides a few swedes, leeks, parsnips and savoy cabbages from last year buried beneath the snow (although, to be fair, DJ has some nice pea tops and oriental greens coming along in the greenhouse – we even ate some of the pea tops on New Year’s Eve). But DJ and I are busy planning what we want to grow this year.

Our veg crop in 2009 wasn’t bad, with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, asparagus, garlic, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers and chillis galore. But we still have a number of improvements we want to make on that this year. First of all, we grew far too many tomatoes and courgettes last year. It was mostly my fault because I got a bit overexcited in my first year of growing stuff and grew too much. DJ says he also underestimated how much space all the tomato plants would take up in the greenhouse. So in 2010 we aim to grow fewer plants – ie. 10 instead of 30 tomatoes and no more than two courgette plants. I might have a go at growing a yellow courgette variety this time. Let me know if you can recommend any. DJ says he wants to grow more super marmande tomatoes because they are delicious and the fruit held its shape for longer on the plants. This meant that if we didn’t harvest the toms immediately they were still ok to harvest a few days later.

We’re also planning to grow potatoes again. I was really pleased with my Ulster chieftains which made great roast and baked tatties as well as wedges – but this year we’ll be growing them in a dedicated veg bed rather than in individual grow bags to save on watering. DJ has grown them in a bed before, but alongside other veg which didn’t work too well. The potatoes produced huge amounts of foliage which overshadowed everything around them. So this time they’ll have a bed to themselves. Another plan of DJ’s is to grow more veg in our flower beds. We have heavy clay soil but over the past couple of years DJ has improved the soil with compost and organic matter, so it’s more suitable for veg now. I think veg looks brilliant growing in a flower bed.

I want to try my hand at growing French and/or runner beans this year because they’re such useful veg and they produce such beautiful foliage and flowers too. I like the way they give height to a garden and they look fab grown on home-made obelisks. Carrots are also on my hit list. I bought some ‘rainbow’ seeds last year – they are a variety of colours including purple and yellow which intrigued me – but I never got around to growing them. I also fancy having a go at growing strawberries, but as space is running short in the beds I might have to do it in a container. Looking forward to eating lots of raspberries this year too. DJ made cuttings last year and now has a number of raspberry bushes which should produce plenty of fruit for 2010. Yum!

What are you planning to grow in 2010? Leave a message and let me know.

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6 Responses to Planning the 2010 vegetable garden

  1. Flo says:

    With yellow courgettes, we\’ve done well with Courgette : Soleil F1 Hybrid from Thompson and Morgan, very tasty indeedy and much better liked than the green ones by the family. Apparently the rainbow varieties of carrots are not so prolific as the usual orange ones I\’m told (and the purple ones lose colour when cooked). You want to read up on dealing with carrot fly before planting carrots. But like you I\’m going to try rainbow carrots this year. Strawberries should be second year stock to allow them to produce fruit – if you get first year ones you\’ll have to cut off flowers to allow them to get roots down so try to be a few "runners" from someone. Strawberries do quite well in containers. You do know that raspberry canes are a hungry crop don\’t you? They need a fertile soil (clay is fine as it is fertile) but also feeding at least once a month with something like growmore or mature chicken pellets (not fresh from your chooks!) along with something like seaweed extract for trace elements a couple of times a season. Lettuces come in so many varieties and the red or curly ones look fun amongst flowers. Some of the packets of salad leaves are also ornamental as well as edible.

  2. Flo says:

    Beware of the runner bean on second thoughts. If you plant too many you will have the courgette problem again. But you can slice and freeze runner beans no problem (if you\’re not careful you can have a freezer full of them though). Been there done that. But there are also some good recipes for chutney using runner beans – I\’ve got some that has matured nicely.Many people do their planning for the next year when the seed sales come along around September time and pick up most of their seeds cheap. You is a bit late to be frugal in that area.

  3. Emily says:

    Yep I agree Soleil is a great yellow courgette variety – it did better than our green one last year and tasted lovely!

  4. Chen says:

    I envy you !In the school we don\’t have space to grow veg

  5. Penny says:

    Hi.I love growing potatoes, so satisfying, and they are really good for a first crop in a new bed.I\’m also planning for perpetual spinach, lots of salad, squash, courgettes, peas, french and runner beans.A good alternative to freezing is to salt your beans. In a large (6" round x 10"+ high) jar put 1-2" rock salt then layer it with sliced beans to the top (layers about 1/2") Keeps beautifully, just rinse under running water and cook – they taste like fresh. You can use them as you need them, and just replace the lid of the jar. My mother did this every year, and I still have her beautiful old metal slicing machine!

  6. Gene says:

    You might want to check up on companion planting.Keep your beans away from your tomato plants, peppers & alliums.Check out the three sisters method where you grow your beans up the stalks of sweet cornand plant some squash at the bottom.

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