When we were first married, almost 50 years ago, and shortly afterwards bought our first house, we had a large corner plot with a big side and front garden but a small garden at the back. I turned the front over to lawn, a tree and shrubs as an area for the new infants to play, and the rest was all for “produce”. Vegetables, soft fruits and a greenhouse soon took over every inch of space (remember feet and inches?) and we even had two chest style deep freezers in the garage, one for meat and fish bought in bulk, the other for prepared and bagged fruit and veg. ! Remember the TV programme The Good Life? We got really close to self sufficiency in fruit and veg as we also found wild damson trees and blackberries to add to the freezer.
Nowadays we have less space, no lawn, only gravelled Zen-style large circular areas surrounded by borders for ……… anything I like. But I also added raised wooden beds on some of the gravel last year, plus a greenhouse. Now I’m ahead of the game, seeds all bought, equipment cleaned, just a few odds and ends to buy before I start sowing in heated propagators. Here’s the rough plan:
We eat salads every day across the summer, in all varieties, with different protein additions such as chicken, tuna, cheese, egg, ham and steak. We grow the same basic salad ingredients across the year, specifically Butterhead Lettuce, French Breakfast Radish, and Red Spring Onions.
We are slightly restricted on vegetable growing because of space, a lack of it unless I pull out all of the shrubs and flowers! So, we have our favourites which grow well in the raised beds/boxes and these are Nantes Carrots, Alisa Craig Onions, and Hispi Pointed Cabbage. (The proximity of the onions and carrots helps to keep away the dreaded carrot fly). We grow two types of beans, Moonlight Runner Beans, and Climbing French Beans Cobra. These beans are grown in an arrangement of deep heavy pots, four together, with a wigwam of poles in the pots and held together at the top. It really works and saves space as we put two bean plants per pot and keeps us going as we pick beans daily when young across summer and autumn.
I have a small greenhouse and last year attempted to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, none of which were particularly successful. I don’t think I gave them enough attention rather than there being anything specifically wrong, so this year I’m going to do something different; aubergines, peppers, and a mix of strawberries that will fruit at different times across the year.
Last years flower beds were a roaring success, a mass of colour right into mid autumn. So, on the usual mantra “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, I’m going for the same mix this year of Mesembryanthemum, Gazinia, Zinnia, and Begonia.