Are you looking to grow a garden patch in your backyard garden? Here are some tips for you to start with if you want to have greens next year!
It’s a bit too simplistic to say that the year is over for gardens in the UK. For instance, winter pansies still flourish, our purple sprouting broccoli is looking extremely healthy and lots of bulbs (garlic, grape hyacinths, daffs) have been planted, ready to propel themselves into 2017! It’s not over but, lets face it, most things are either dead or sleeping! Therefore, in my eyes it’s time to review a successful year and think about what I’m going to grow and where I’m going to plant them. Here are a few things I’m thinking about when planning for next year… perhaps they’ll help you to:
For example, courgettes always seem to thrive in our veg patch and they come in all shapes and sizes so I can still experiment with unusual varieties (in other words, I’ll never get bored!). I must admit that they didn’t do quite so well in pots, as they need a lot of space so I may consider planting something else in those. (I’ve included a video here to help you with growing courgettes.)
Nasturtiums were a huge triumph as a companion plant for all of the veg therefore they’re a must and climbing beans were plentiful and delicious towards the end of the summer. We loved the mixed variety climbing bean, giving us an assortment of different coloured beans- you see, vegetables can bring fabulous colour to your garden so you don’t always have to rely on flowers for colour!
On the other hand, carrots were an unmitigated disaster in our garden. We love homegrown carrots so I’m going to try them in large containers next year, in a seriously sandy soil, saving space for something else in the veg garden patch.
This sounds obvious but I’ve tried so many different, unusual fruit and vegetables in the last few years from goji berries to tomatillos, eventually deciding that they just took up precious space, when they came to fruition I didn’t know what to do with them and actually, I didn’t particularly like them.
Sure, if you’ve got time and space, be adventurous but I’ve learnt that the best veg to grow is the stuff you love to eat. Brussel sprouts, for instance, barely made it past germination last year because my heart wasn’t in it to grow and nurture them. After all, for brussels I’d have to wait until Christmas only to experience the subtle taste of fart to tickle my taste buds! (Apologies to any sprout lovers; I can’t stand the things but recognise that they are much more tasty when you grow your own so don’t let me put you off!)
In my eyes, legumes like runner beans, mange tout, sugar snap peas and french beans are like manna from heaven so I’m going to grow A LOT of them and there’s nothing like homegrown tomatoes, which did surprisingly well in our veg patch last year. (Must have been sunny!) Several varieties of wonderful homegrown tomatoes.
Last year, I trialled quite a few ways of growing vegetables in pots or other vessels to free up space in our veg patch. Watercress in a wheelbarrow was a great success (see this video to show how to do this), as was growing pak choi in pots (in early spring before the caterpillars get hold of them) and salad in guttering . I’m going to do all of these again.
In my opinion, the best use of space is to grow potatoes in bags- it’s really effective and potatoes do take up a considerable amount of room. However, last year, I don’t think I used the correct variety of potato; next year I’ll stick to smaller baby new potatoes and salad potatoes, rather than cramming in baking potatoes. (See this video to show how easy it is.) Just thinking about new potatoes is making me salivate… can’t wait for next year!
Beans and peas, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots all suffer from pest problems. To combat these, rotate your crops so that they are in a different area of your patch from the previous year. Courgettes, squashes and pumpkins though can be planted where ever you want them, which makes them very versatile.
I already recognize that next year is going to be seriously busy and time will be at a premium, as it is for many of us. Therefore, I’m going to go for tried and trusted varieties, which don’t need too much care and attention (I say this and I always do too much!) I still want the satisfaction of coming home and picking my dinner in the back garden. Easy to grow veg includes broad beans, runner beans, courgettes, potatoes, garlic, radishes and salad leaves.
What worked well for you this year and what are you planning to ditch? Do you have any other recommendations? What are you planning to grow next year? Do drop me a line on this site or on Facebook.
Tip: With winter approaching and autumn almost at an end, the leaves have already fallen, covering most peoples’ gardens. Apart from raking them up and putting them in your green recycling bins, why not bag some of them up, put holes in the bags and then leave them for a year to give you some great mulching material for next autumn. Why don’t you ‘Have a go’?
Still looking to start a garden patch for next year? Take a peek at our other articles here!
My name's Keith Hatton and for the last few years I've been calling myself 'The Have A Go Gardener'. That's because I love my little patch of paradise and I'll try to grow anything, especially if it's edible! From strawberries in wellies, potatoes in bags and lettuce in guttering, I like to up-cycle what I can, encourage wildlife into our garden and pretty much love everything to do with my garden. I also write blogs, film any whacky ideas and (if you're close to Cambridge) I even like to help out in other peoples' gardens. Here to inspire and get people outside- why don'y you 'have a go?'
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