The task of preparing my growing-plan is harder this year because I now have two areas to cultivate - my own garden and the new plot where I'm helping an elderly couple to keep their garden in good shape. Incidentally, the new plot is situated in a road called Courtmoor Avenue, so I shall probably use that name to refer to it.
|This is me, digging. I'm getting lots of practice at this at present....|
The Courtmoor plot is an unknown quantity, because I don't yet know very much about its soil quality, light levels, shelter from winds, ease (or difficulty) of watering, slug/snail population etc. The owners tell me that until a couple of years ago they used to get a trailer-load of manure delivered each year, so the soil ought to be pretty good. It certainly feels good - light and crumbly without being too dry. There are some quite big fruit trees in the garden (including a huge old Bramley apple), so shade could be a problem, but this is why I have chosen to cultivate the part furthest from the trees.
|Courtmoor plot with large Apple trees - Bramley at Left. Notice position of green trug-tub.|
|Notice again the green trug-tub. The big Bramley tree is out-of-shot to the Left.|
My own garden is of course much more familiar and I know exactly how it performs (I've lived here since 1991). It has its share of problems too - such as low levels of direct sunlight, a big tree in the neighbouring property which sucks out lots of moisture - and then there is the constant threat of damage by badgers and foxes, who often dig big holes if I let them! But its biggest advantage is that it's right outside my back door, meaning that I can tend to it whenever I like, at a moment's notice.
|My own garden, with raised beds and open space for containers (e.g. for potatoes as seen here)|
The Courtmoor plot is not far away (not much more than a quarter of a mile, I'd say), but going there will involve a conscious decision and a few minutes' walk, so it won't be like pottering around on my own property. I plan to spend about half a day per week there at present, possibly two half days at certain times of the year, such as during April and early May when lots of sowing and planting takes place.
My overall plan is this:- In the Courtmoor plot I'll grow low maintenance crops and ones that need more space, and in my own gardens I'll grow ones that require more attention, as well as ones that will do better in my raised beds - which are relatively easy to protect from animal and insect pests, using nets and mesh. I think it also makes sense to have the herbs and salad crops close to home, since these are things we often want on the spur of the moment.
So, here's the split then (first draft!)
Potatoes - including at least one Maincrop variety
Parsnips (very low maintenance)
Leeks and possibly onions and/or shallots
Big brassicas - Brussels Sprouts and cabbages (will benefit from plenty of space)
Climbing beans (there is enough space for me to grow a few of several different varieties)
French beans (the plot-owners particularly like these)
Squashes (I have never found enough room or a suitable space in my own garden)
New Zealand Spinach (I've not tried this, but the plot-owners have made a special request for it)
My own garden:
Potatoes in containers - Early varieties. (Container-grown ones are easier to protect)
Salads, including at least lettuce, endive, radicchio and radishes
Herbs (often required in the kitchen at short notice)
Carrots (will need protection with Enviromesh - easier to provide in a raised bed)
Broad Beans (easier to support and protect in a raised bed)
Runner Beans (these need frequent picking during harvest period)
Purple Sprouting Broccoli (ditto)
Short-lived brassicas, e.g. Brokali and Calabrese
Tomatoes (high-maintenance and vulnerable. Will grow in containers as usual)
Asparagus & Rhubarb (perennials, already in permanent containers)
NB: These lists are not necessarily fixed! If you have any suggestions for a better distribution, please let me know.
By the way, I'm also thinking carefully about where to raise my young plants. In theory, many of them could be grown at the Courtmoor plot to save carting them to and fro, but I think I will probably raise them mainly in my own garden, where I will be able to supervise them more closely. Also, I already have all the necessary coldframes and mini-greenhouses at my own property.
|A good selection of crop-protection 'hardware'.|
Right, so those are the plans for now. Let's see how things actually turn out...