Who doesn’t like pictures in place of words! Below is our detailed planting plan, showing our various growing areas, and what we intend to plant in each this year 🙂
We’ve dug deep into the Italian ‘Franchi’ seed range again, for both our cucumbers and tomatoes. The very first year we had an amazing crop of Telegraph Improved cucumbers, but since then it’s been quite disappointing. I suspect we’ve neglected them in some way, or done something wrong, but this year I’m going for a different variety – a slightly spikey stumpy affair called Cetriolo Marketmore. It’s self pollinating, and is an early harvesting cuke – we’ll see how they do! And as far as tomotaoes go, we’re going with the variety we love to cook with, San Marzano. A great fleshy dollop of red goodness, whose flavour really does come out when cooked low and slow.
Next up, in the greenhouse sitting next to the last, is our other favourite Franchi tomato – Marmande, a juicy beef tomato that can compete with the best for the honour of fugly fruit. Continuing the Italian theme, we have Corno Rosso peppers – a long juicy sweet pepper, looking like a large chilli. We grew something similar the year before last and they were a great shape for stuffing with cream cheese! Then we have our basil, Italiano Classico, which we tend to grow a lot of as we dry it for overwinter use. And for another strong flavour, we’ve a couple of pots of ‘Calypso’ Coriander.
We (notice I never use the word ‘I’ when it’s a bad thing?) failed abysmally last year with the aubergines. In fact, we’ve only ever had one really good year, but I won’t stop trying! Last year was down to the same reason many things weren’t as good as they could be – we had a two week holiday – the first in a long time! And I can’t imagine doing it again! Whilst it was fun, it was painful to return, and I’d be perfectly happy spending two weeks of holiday pootling around the patch, and I know Suz feels the same. So this year we’re not doing that, and we’ll be able to keep a better eye on things, hopefully! In greenhouse 3 we’ve got eight pots of Black Beauty aubergines – so even with one fruit per plant we should have enough to make a few meals 😉
We love our raised bed, it’s such an easy task to work and I can see more of these in the future. This year we’re going with pretty much the same as last, except the various lettuce are also from the Franchi range. Perhaps we should buy shares?! We’ve a bed of Appollo F1 spinach, it worked well last year for us, and a bed of pick and come again lettuce, Misticanza di Lattughe. We have a couple of lines of wild rocket, and twelve lettuce stations, using the colourful variety Misticanza Lattughe Croccanti – a red and green leafy lottery. We’ve also got our baby carrots, Chantenay type – Cascade F1, and a row of Ravanello Rapid Red 2 radish, which we plant quite frequently for successional sowing.
Not one we usually list in our yearly planting post, but this year, whilst waiting for the weeds to dissipate from the old, failed, raspberry bed, we’re going to make use of it by way of veg! I should add, the raspberries failed for two reasons – the site is really not well sheltered, and the ground tends to wetness in this corner; so much so that the raspberries died off and we almost lost one of the rhubarbs a few years ago in a particularly bad winter. The rhubarb survived, but we pulled what was left of the raspberries out two years ago and barrowed some soil in to raise the bed by a couple of inches. The soil has some nasties in it – nettles and docks mostly – so two or three years of veg growing will give us time to turn it a few times and prompt them to germinate, so we can duly nobble them. Smiler and Jay have their own areas here – Smiler’s growing onions to sell at the front, whilst Jay has gone for carrots for rabbits, bless! We’ll grow a bed of sunflowers, for bird seed, and a bed of carrots as the ground is hopefully clean enough to not suffer from carrot fly.
I’ve also made a note of the various currant bushes there – we have two each of black, red and white. It was rather remiss of me, but when we planted them out I didn’t make a note of the what went where – so I’ve filled the varieties in as best I can, and will have to identify those I’m unsure about by fruit.
Our rhubarb and gooseberry bed featured in a post not so long ago, showing the propogating of new gooseberry bushes, and how easy it is. Again, I’ve made a note here as to the varieties we have. I thought we’d planted different varieties of rhubarb, but can only find receipts for one type, so they must all be Timperley Early! As far as gooseberries go, we have Invicta, which has the largest and most prolific fruit of the three, then the two Hinnomaki bushes, one yellow, one red. The red one hasn’t been great in terms of fruit number, but they are delicious and sweet. The Invicta has suffered the most from gooseberry sawfly, which nematodes have done a decent job of killing off. Thinking about it, I’m guessing Mr and Mrs Blackbird are probably getting to the dessert gooseberry Hinnomaki Red before we do!
Finally we have the main allotment area – this year shrunk down to 30′ x 30′. The asparagus and artichoke beds are permanent, but the remaining seven are part of a rotation system. Essentially, each crop moves down one space from where it was last grown, and once it reaches the bottom of a column, it moves back to the top of the column to its left. The odd one is the pea and bean bed, which will move next year to where the potatoes are this year. Next year the potatoes will move down to where the onions currently are, the onions down to where the root veg are, and the root veg will move to where the squash are, and so on. This way the main manuring each autumn will be where the old onion patch was and where the potatoes will next be. The squash doesn’t mind two years on the same ground, so the fact that squash will grown on ground previously having corgettes on isn’t a bad thing, and the brassicas will always follow the nitrogen fixing peas and beans. We’re hoping by cutting down on the allotment side of things this year will prepare us for a potentially busier fruit tree season!