Plans for 2018

My allotment journal for 2017 has been completed, and in these drifting, limbo days between Christmas and New Year my mind (while not having to think about work) has been pondering over plans for the new growing year. It’s a good time to take stock, think back over what has worked or not for you in the past year, and make some fresh plans. So here’s a summary of mine.

I had good success with red varieties this year and discovered that the slugs and snails are less attracted to them. So I plan to grow more red lettuce, carrots and mange-tout peas, a revert back to red Brussels Sprouts (green ones get terrible whitefly, though the red don’t suffer as much) and I’ll try some red broad beans as I’ve heard they don’t get attacked by pests as much either. Maybe also red kale (I already grow one called red Russian which has a red vein but greenish leaves) and maybe some red dwarf beans.

Chillies: a few (and I mean a few – see photo below) plants of Ring of Fire from home saved seed, and then some other varieties have been purchased: Ancho, Jalapeño, one called Onza and another called Zimbabwe black – just because the plant looks beautiful. All from Premier Seeds Direct (premierseedsdirect.co.uk).

Squash: I’ve grown Sweet Dumplings the last 2 years, and they are tasty but a pain to peel, so I want something easier to prepare. I might go back to butternut, but I want something tasty and good to store. Suggestions welcome. I’m tempted by Crown Prince, but it’s a bit of a whopper.

Potatoes: blight resistant varieties grown last year were indeed blight free, but succumbed instead to eelworm and slug damage, and they weren’t that tasty. So I’m going back to tried and tested varieties, Anya, Desiree and Charlottes.

Beans: More Borlotti beans grown from saved stock, and I’d like to grow something similar to a kidney bean as we love them, so I’ve gone for Vietch’s Climbing from Beans and Herbs (beansandherbs.co.uk) along with a couple of other heirloom varieties. This company is great if you (like me) like growing beans for shelling, they have an amazing collection in the heirloom section.

New crops: kohl rabi, and I’m thinking about trying chickpeas. I do buy and eat a lot of chickpeas, so it would be lovely if I could grow them, but I’ve heard mixed results.

From home saved seed (varieties unknown): leeks, sweetcorn, spinach and basil.

Cucumbers, courgettes, parsnips, beetroot and broccoli will all be the same as last year.

I’ll be experimenting with a fast growing tomato variety (literally called tomato 42 days, I hope it does what it says on the pack) and maybe grow more of last years Defiance that stood up well to blight. Overwintering garlic and onions are all growing well already, and some more shallots (Longor) will be purchased and planted in the spring, these were fantastic last year, and I might plant the remaining ones too.

Flowers: as usual there’ll be cosmos and calendulas, nasturtiums (like it or not, I may have to weed these out a bit) and cerinthe major. A few cornflowers and hopefully some sunflowers (though I never seem to have much luck with sunflowers). But mainly new this year will be lots of dahlias. I have grown dahlias before, but only the odd variety or two that got a bit lost in among everything else, but I want a small bed dedicated to them this year so I can grow lots of different varieties. And I need to try better at keeping the tubers overwinter, I have dug up and lost so many in previous years by not storing them properly.

So apart from drawing up a ‘what to plant where’ plan, I think that’s all. It sounds like a lot of work from where I’m standing, but it’s no more or less than I’ve grown before. I took on my plot in April 2008, so next year will be my 10 year anniversary. I don’t know where those 10 years have gone, but I do know I’ve learned a huge amount, eaten some delicious fruit and vegetables, made some lovely friends, benefitted physically, emotionally and mentally, and generally enjoyed all of them. So here’s to 10 more.

Here’s a few things I learned this year:

11 comments

  1. To continue your red theme I can wholeheartedly recommend Red Kuri squash. I’ve grown them for the last couple of years and they beat butternut on taste and storing and are so much easier to deal with in the kitchen than Crown Prince. This year my eight plants with no watering or feeding produced 36 squashes and they looked so pretty glowing in the early autumn sunshine and once cut I left them on my slatted wooden table to cure and so they decorated my garden throughout October too. I nodded along to your list. Running an allotment, like gardening generally, is one unending learning curve. 🌈

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  2. Wonderful illustrations, Zoe!
    I found that red varieties less attacked by snails, slugs and caterpillars too! My purple cabbages were growing well while white were completely eaten!
    Borlotti beans are great, aren’t they? In the new year I will also grow Hidatsa Red and Ojo de Tigre drying beans. Beans and herbs website sounds exciting, definitely will have a look!
    And Happy New Year!

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    • It’s a strange thing about the red vegetables isn’t it. I might do a few trials of red and green varieties side by side to see the results. This beans sound interesting, best of luck, and happy gardening.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have some great plans. We haven’t chosen all of the plants we want to grow yet, but sweet corn is on my list and Mr C wants to grow brussels. Good luck with this year. 😊

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    • Thankyou and to you. Sweetcorn is pretty easy to grow, and this year I want to try one called mini pop that is meant to be good for making popcorn.

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  4. Dear Zoe,

    My name is Ola, and I help to write the blog at Thompson and Morgan, the seed company. We’re doing a special feature about Instagram feeds of veg growers and came across yours. I particularly enjoyed your photo of your impressive romanesco broccoli.

    If it’s OK with you, I’d like to include your Instagram feed in our piece.

    We’d like to mention these posts:

    The Thompson & Morgan blog attracts a large readership and you’ll be featured alongside some top bloggers, all of whom write with style and authority.

    We’re hoping to publish the post soon; would it be alright if we use a picture to accompany the write-up of your Instagram? It goes without saying that we’ll credit and link, both the photo and our review of your feed, to your page, and I’ll be sure to let you know when we make this piece live.

    We’re thinking of featuring this photo:

    Should you have any queries, please do let me know – I’ll be happy to help.

    Many thanks,

    Ola
    Thompson & Morgan Blog
    blog.thompson-morgan.com
    blog@thompson-morgan.com
    Twitter: @Thompsonmorgan

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