View from a back garden allotment – guest post by Tessa Gee (Norwich UK)
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Today, she wants to share some simple ideas for growing your own vegetables along with her favourite 12 crops.
I have always enjoyed vegetable growing. I find the sight of rows of cabbages and lettuces, runner beans running up strings, trained fruit trees and herbs and marigolds, far more exciting than many ‘posh’ gardens. They may be pretty, but you can’t eat them can you?
So when the (very large) allotment I ran with my mother got too much for us, the obvious thing to do was to dig up the lawn and have a vegetable patch in the back garden.
A couple of raised beds and three cheap metal arches from the garden centre later, we were set and have been growing vegetables in the back garden more or less ever since.
Square foot gardening
When we first put the raised beds in, I had just read and been very impressed with a book called Square Foot gardening by an American called Mel Bartholomew. I tried this for a few years, but have now reverted to rows. Somehow rows seem to work better, for me at least, plus I think they look nicer. And they are easier to hoe.[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]1591862027[/amazon-product]
So what has worked best for us?
Lettuce is great and has saved us a lot of money. It is much better to go out and pick exactly the amount of leaves you want off a row of lettuces than buy salad which may be sold in the wrong quantities for what you need.
Mange tout peas are very popular with my husband, grow well and look good in the garden.
Climbing French and runner beans are great, and go on producing right into the autumn.
Potatoes are good if you want to clear a bed of weeds, but watch out for blight (I tend not to grow a huge amount of potatoes as I don’t actually like them very much).
Courgettes are a summer staple along with the beans. I train them up the side of one of our arches to keep them off the ground and take up less space.
Pentland brig has always been a favourite of mine from allotment days, although in the garden we only have space for one or two.
White or purple sprouting broccoli is also good for the ‘hungry gap’ in winter and spring, and carries on producing leaves and sprouts for a long time. I tend generally just to leave the brassicas (or at least one of them) for a long time, – they are always producing more leaves which can be picked and eaten.
Spinach and chard
Perpetual spinach or chard are lovely plants which you can pick again and again and will last for about a year before running to seed
Coriander leaf is pretty expensive in the shops but grows really well in rows, as does parsley (although you have to wait a bit for parsley to germinate).
Radishes grow really well, and if you let a few plants grow on and run to seed they will produce lovely spicy pods you can have with your salad.
Tomatoes are generally rather late with me, and are vulnerable to blight. However there is a heritage variety I got from Garden Organic‘s heritgage seed program called Aunt Madge which I really like which is very productive.
I also grow a lot of chives and put them in everything. They are a lovely herb and look so pretty with their purple flowers.
Those are some of the main things we have in the garden this year. What do you grow?
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