Ever since we started building this new garden, I have been pondering what I would grow in 2016 – it’s first season as a complete (I hope!) garden. It has been hard to decide. During my garden-free years I built up a long list of things I really wanted to grow, but couldn’t. I can’t grow them all at the same time, so which ones to choose? And, to be honest, my gardening mojo has yet to fully return. I’m not feeling the same pre-season excitement as I used to. So whilst I have had some ideas about what I might grow this year, I’d been avoiding putting them down on paper and finalising a garden plan.
However, it is coming to the point in the year when it’s important to have some idea of what I’m going to grow, and where it’s going to grow, which avoids a situation I have been in at various times in the past – too many plants and not enough space. So I have put together a garden plan for 2016, with the proviso that I can always change it later if I want to (on a one plant in, one plant out kind of basis). The process started with the Sunset Strip:
We ignored it last year whilst we were building the main garden, and this year I’m turning it into a mini allotment where four raised beds will be home to blight-resistant Sárpo potatoes, Georgia Candy Roaster squash and a shark’s fin melon. The beds will be filled between March/April and September/October. I haven’t decided what to do with them then – winter crops, green manures, winter flowers, leave them fallow with a good, thick mulch? We’ll see.
On the ‘finished’ side of the garden, in front of my lavender potting shed, are six raised beds that are already planted. The first row of three is home to perennial plants – a long term planting, that row will largely take care of itself.
The second row of three is growing my overwintering alliums – onions, shallots, garlic and elephant garlic. They’ll be tied up until late summer. Again, I haven’t thought yet about what will replace those crops when they come out (but at least in the main garden I don’t have to worry about bunny attacks, because of the robust fencing).
On the other side of the garden, in front of the sea grass shed (Ryan’s workshop), there will be a mirror-image of the finished side, with its own set of six raised beds. We have all the materials stacked up, but the ground is currently too wet for us to make a start. (There’s also the problem of the old shed, which needs to be emptied and dismantled, preferably before one of these winter storms huffs and puffs and blows it down. I’m amazed it’s still standing!)
It’s these beds that I need a planting plan for – with the caveat that we haven’t built them yet, and you can’t plant beds that don’t exist…. Our aim is to have them ready for spring, but it’s entirely possible that they won’t all ‘come online’ at once.
One of them is earmarked for asparagus – another perennial planting that will tie up the bed for years to come. For the second I am planning a selection of herbs. They’re a mixture of annual and perennial plants, on a theme, which is – for the moment – a secret. It is a project I started researching last year, and may take a couple of seasons to really come to fruition.
A third is destined to grow the edible dahlias that we so enjoyed last year. I may not grow all six varieties again (and I won’t put them all in one bed if I do), but they were lovely and they have won themselves a space.
We also want another Triffid – which is what we named the courgette plant (Rugosa friulana) that defied a bad start to set off across the patio, and provided us with tasty fruit well into the autumn. It seemed to be trying to get to the arbour and use it to climb its way to freedom, and we enjoyed watching its efforts. It can share a bed (it trails) with a summer squash.
Which leaves two. I have some Andean tubers that will need a home – oca and ulluco, and they can have a bed between them.
And the final one is currently pegged as a ‘greens’ bed, to be sowed with a chaotic mixture of salad and stir fry greens, harvested and replanted on a cut and come again basis. That’s the theory, anyway.
Of course, since I wrote the plan down I’ve created a waiting list of plants that I’d like to grow, if I can find a space for them. And it doesn’t mention things that will be growing in containers. I want achocha and giant achocha to grow up the arbour this year, and I have been tempted into ordering T&M’s fuchsia berries – I’ve wanted an edible fuchsia for so many years now, and there weren’t any available last year. (Of course, all fuchsia berries are edible, it’s just that they’re not all tasty, and I haven’t found the time to select a tasty variety myself.) There will be sweet peppers.
And there are parts of the garden that don’t contain raised beds, that will need to be planted in due course, and plants that I want to add – maybe later this year, maybe next year.
So the garden plan is a work in progress. But at least now I know what to start sowing, and when!
What’s on your plan for 2016?
This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.