It’s that time of year again when the seed catalogues come hurtling through the letter box and if I’m not careful I shall end up ordering too much. I already have unopened and unfinished packets, spread out on the sitting room floor to remind myself not to make the same mistake again. So this year my resolution is to limit myself to those things that fit into….
The four-rule test
- What survives in the garden here
- What fruits at a time of year when I am here to harvest it
- What doesn’t need too much mollycoddling
- What’s good to eat
It’s harsh, but unless you want to be disappointed, this has to be the way to go.
Last year’s losers
It was too dry over the summer when I wasn’t here to water the beans
, or pick them before they got too big and by the time I did pick they were tough, even though I planted Kelvedon, a stringless variety. Okay, they bombed up the canes and looked pretty, but pretty is not enough.
What to try instead?
I’m going to try Safari, AGM, Kenyan beans which should produce fine, thin stringfree pods. I try not to buy these in supermarkets because they’ve come all the way from Kenya and don’t last well in the fridge, or perhaps that’s my fridge.
Spinach Lazio F1:
Delicious but I failed to sow enough and had very little to eat as a result.
What to try instead?
I’m going to give Perpetual Spinach a go next year. I love the stuff and refuse to be beaten. I also think I’ll have a go with New Zealand spinach which sounds interesting. High yields, sweet tasting and tolerates heat and drought. Has any one tried this? I’d love to hear what you thought.
Last year’s winners
Leek F1 Carlton:
I’ll grow these again because I do like the look of a nice row of leeks
. They came up, they grew, they tasted great. No problem. Only problem was that I didn’t sow enough of them.
Beetroot F1 Action:
Ditto. In all respects. This year, though, for a change I want to try Bolthardy AGM which is recommended for beginners. Sounds reassuring.
Lettuce all the year round:
Butterheads are the way to go. Rubbish to all you lollo rosso and oak leaf fans, butterheads are delicious, heart up well and just do the job. Also being less floppy leafed they are just too much of a come on to slugs.
Oh my goodness, how happy I have been with these, this year. I planted them as sets (I refuse to be ashamed that I haven’t grown from seed) and now have a kitchen strung with them. We could be Breton. Next year I’d like smaller onions, though and am wondering what to try. Any suggestions anyone?
Garlic Champion white:
did what it promised too and tasted much more interesting than the shop-bought stuff. This year, though, I must remember to harvest them earlier. I’m tempted to plant some Messidrome, a French variety, so promises to cook well. Has anyone tried this?
Parsley Curled Moss 2:
Very happy with this though, as always, those planted in the ground easily beat the ones in the herb containers for sturdiness and that wonderful deep green colour. Next year, though, I want to grow flat leaf parsley too.
Kale Cavolo Nero di Toscana:
This is still growing strong despite a hiccup when the cabbage white caterpillars arrived. But it recovered and is eating well. Next year I am going to try a new variety bred for British weather, Black Magic.
I swear by this delicious and early-ripening cherry tomato. But next year I’d like to try F1 Red Star, bigger with a Turk’s Turban shape.
As you probably know, I am always on the look out for what’s easy to grow and good to eat and, if you have some recommendations for foolproof veg, please do leave a comment below.
Tiffany Daneff is also the editor of the award-winning intoGardens app - the world's first magazine app for gardens. Visit the appstore to download a free sample or go to the website for more information. Gardening has never looked better or been more exciting. Visit www.into-gardens.com for more info.
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