Experiments in gardening

As regular readers know, I have quite a small garden, so I have to be choosy about the crops that I grow. For a long time I focused on things that were expensive to buy in the shops, difficult to transport or were simply not readily available. Over recent years, however, I have realised that there are lots of good reasons to grow some of the more common things, especially if they form a staple for us (see my post, for example, about whether it’s worth growing potatoes here).

This year, however, I’m going to be able to expand a bit… not because we’re moving house but because my sister is! Now, I know that I shouldn’t have designs on her garden, but she is buying a house much closer to me and with a decent-sized garden that already has a vegetable patch and greenhouse. So, when I ordered my seeds the other day, I knew that I could experiment a bit more; not only this, but that any excess plants can go to my friend Perkin who has loads of space for growing and who will be just a few miles from my sister!

Making good use of vertical space

Planning to grow lots of mangetout again this year

So what have I chosen that’s a bit out of the ordinary? Well, a couple of things from the Heritage Seed Library: Shark fin Melon (a rather rampant sort of squash from which you can eat the fruits, shoots and leaves) and Callaloo (a leafy green, much used in Jamaica). The latter I’ve been intending to try for a while, but the former was just a whim… apparently it covers a lot of ground, so I’m thinking of growing it over my shed as well as giving plants to sister and Perkin. I have  few other heritage seeds coming from the lovely Kate in Australia… I chose genuine Australian varieties of lettuce, pumpkin and pepper, which will be interesting to experiment with. And then my big seed order was from The Real Seed Catalogue. This included some tried and tested varieties that I have written about in the past, plus a few new things for me and my sister to have a go with: Rainbow Quinoa (for the seeds), Groundcherry, Tall Giant Sugar Pea (this has HUGE pods, apparently), Really Red Dear Tongue Lettuce and a previously untried pepper called Nova.

I don’t know what will work and what won’t, but I’m certainly looking forward to trying out both old and new varieties here and with my sister… are you trying anything different this year?

Leave a comment


  1. We’re doing a total revamp of the garden this year! We started small last year with only a few cucumbers, onions, and potatoes. We also planted a couple of pear trees. I can’t wait to start digging and planting…watermelons and pumpkins will be new to the garden for us. We’re also wanting to add apple and fig trees. Good luck with your new crops! 😀

    • I love pumpkins and squashes, but I have to select varieties carefully here in west Wales… our naked pumpkins did well this year – the flesh is ok, but the best thing is they produce lovely seeds that are ‘naked’ and so can be eaten whole.

  2. Sounds like you are annexing a large area of Shropshire 🙂 Looking forward to the spares… xx

  3. Good timing on this post. I was just looking through the annual seed catalogue (from a great local company called West Coast Seeds) and getting excited about what I’m going to do this year on my balcony garden. Don’t think they have Calloloo though!

  4. Hopefully a veggie patch.. I have the space (an ideal spot) , the desire, enthusiasm and hopefully the time, but I lack all necessary skill and expertise!

    My orchard (a grandiose name for a lime, orange and two lemon trees) isn’t dead…there are even two green lemons on one tree, so there’s hope for me ((and my green things) yet!


  5. The Calaloo should be OK so long as you give it a sunny spot. This is the year I’m planning to get my vegie garden pods up and running. Since we’re in the wet tropics, everything needs to be grown in raised beds so it drains when the rain is torrential. I have acquired three 1m cubes in plastic with a metal frame, originally bulk liquid containers. They have a tap in the bottom and a large filling hole in the top. We’re going to cut the tops off, fill the bottom with rocks, then lucerne hay, then poo, then soil and plant in them. I’ll be keeping the cut-off tops to make little raised roofs for during the Wet, so the light still comes in at the sides but the worst of the rain is kept off. I’m also going to install a raised walkway in the vegie garden, so that when that area is flooded, I’ll still be able to walk reasonably dry shod. The area I have to work with is a micro-garden, so I really have to choose carefully what I’ll grow, but as this is a big growing area for fruit and veg, I don’t have the concern about food miles that many others have to contend with.

  6. At this rate you’ll have a Co-op market garden before long.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  7. Interesting post. I am doing something in the garden every day. That is new to me. I need to learn more about what to plant and when, I love to eat fresh herbs, so that will be my next thing. I loved reading about the different things you wrote about, especially the shark fin melon.

  8. sarahfoto

     /  January 4, 2014

    I’m waiting for my seeds to be delivered! The most odd and exciting for this year is Peanut plant and another old peanut related grass plant that gives little roots that look like nuts.


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