Forward thinking

This is a time of abundance – tomatoes are ripening every day, there’s the last flurry of courgettes, squashes need picking and there’s the potatoes to harvest. Indeed, as I was digging up potatoes this morning I thought about my successes this year and my failures, and I have come to the conclusion that I need to change my attitude in the garden. You see, my problem is that I am easily seduced.

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Some of this week’s harvest that we will definitely enjoy

No, not like THAT… I am seduced by seed catalogues! I read the descriptions of interesting crops and I fall for the marketing. I’ve got better over the years at resisting, but I still succumb sometimes. There are several vegetables that I love the idea of growing even though I know that there are good reasons not to – because only one of us likes them, or because they need lots of care, or because they’re  not something that thrives in our area, or just because they don’t really come out well in a cost benefit analysis (for example, space versus yield). Broad beans are good example: yes I like the flowers and the young beans are nice, but I don’t like them when they get old plus they take up lots of space for a relatively small crop… they also tend to get blackfly.

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Ready for soup-making

When you only have a limited amount of space, it’s essential to prioritise, and so that’s what I’m going to do next year. I’ve been thinking about the things that I really like growing and that I’m successful with. So next year we’ll continue to grow peppers, chillies, tomatoes and melons in the limery (I may even be tempted to try something new), but in the garden I’m going to focus on potatoes, courgettes, squashes, kale, lettuce and other salad leaves, broccoli, mange tout and climbing French beans. These are all crops that I know we will eat and enjoy and that, where appropriate, I have reliable ways of preserving. I’ll also carry on growing various fresh herbs and nurturing the soft fruit.

This afternoon I will be making Mulligatawny soup for the freezer, using courgettes, potato and tomatoes that I harvested this morning. I’ll also be planting some winter lettuce seeds and I will be collecting seeds from the French beans to sow next year. And later in the winter when I’m being tempted, I’ll come back to this post and remind myself of my priorities!

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5 Comments

  1. Clare B

     /  September 17, 2016

    I like your thinking, very sensible and something I need to do if I’m ever to succeed with growing veg. We’ve only ever toyed a little with growing anything more than herbs and not knowing/researching what we were doing when we we did. So haven’t had great results. I would really like to grow butternut squash as I love cooking with them but know that in our situation (limited sunlight and damp) they will not thrive. I need to do my research in to what would grow well in an old bath tub, in less sun that most vegetables need. We have improved on the damp and sunlight by pollarding a number of trees to allow better air circulation and light but the reduced sunlight caused by other trees out of our control would still be an issue for most veg. Back to the internet for further research…

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    • Forget butternut squash, but there are lots of other good ones and you can train them to climb into sunnier dryer conditions. The ones in the basket are a variety called Amoro; I’ve not grown them before, so can’t comment on the flavour yet. I’ve also had success in the past with Boston (from Real Seeds) and they are certainly suited to west Wales.

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  2. Like you, I have learned to let my local conditions dictate what I grow, and it seems that’s mainly fruit. Having said that, my perennial capsicums and tomatoes were wonderful (yes, I know they’re both fruit really too!) and I have had great success with my lemongrass and basil. To be honest, I could grow almost anything I liked if it wasn’t for the insect predators, which are simply too huge and rapacious in this climate, and mildew and sooty mould because of the humidity. But home grown mangoes and mandarins make it all worthwhile!

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  3. Thank you for this post – I am still learning to manage two aspects of my growing space – the size of it and the changing climatic conditions. The last two seasons were both unmanageable for two different reasons and I’ve found myself a bit lack lustre as a result…. But there are good things that happen and I shall change my attitude forthwith 🙂

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    • I think that, whilst growing can be very uplifting, it can also be rather depressing when you experience a sequence of failures… and of course the smaller your growing space the less that needs to go wrong to result in a complete failure. Apparently it hasn’t been a very good growing year here, but now we have the limery to give us some guaranteed success, I’m not noticing the small potato crop because of all the peppers!!

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