Great Veg to Grow in 2017
This time of year is great for planning, looking forward to spring. The lull between Christmas and New Year gives time to look at the seed catalogues, check web sites and think about the veg plot. Often there are some great offers as the various companies scramble to attract our money.
When thinking about what to plant where it is worth remembering the need to rotate crops. To keep pests and diseases away it is best not to plant the same type of veg in the same part of the plot or garden each year; a detailed explanation of crop rotation.
I have also been inspired by some of the beautiful vegetable gardens I have seen in recent years. So much so that growing vegetables has become an art form incorporating mixed planting of different coloured vegetables interspersed with flowers. Adding flowers to the vegetable garden such as Calendula, the Pot Marigold has the added benefit of attracting pollinators, but happily not attractive to slugs, and Limnanthes douglasii, the poached egg plant is often covered in pollinators. Having these flowers within the veg plot adds bright colour and helps pollination which if it is another poor summer, will help to increase yields. The image below left is of part of the vegetable garden at Ness Botanical which is so colourful.
Thinking about colour I have been drawn to some different variety of veg this year including 'Pea Blauwschokker' a heritage variety from Dobies, part of Rob Smith's heritage vegetable collection and which is described as having purple flowers and dark purple pods which sounds interesting, image below centre. Runner bean 'Sunset' also from Dobies described as having peachy pink flowers instead of the usual red/white. In previous years I have also grown Broad bean 'Crimson' available from Thompson and Morgan and as illustrated below right which has fabulous flowers and really good firm beans.
Another favourite is the little gem lettuce 'Red Amaze' which is tasty and pretty. It has all the qualities of a little gem but with attractive red edged outer leaves. It looks really good grown with all green lettuces alternating red/green.
I also liked Thompson and Morgan French Dwarf bean collection because it was offering three varieties to harvest across the summer, and competitively priced. Last year, especially with not the best of summers, the yield from dwarf beans was better than from the taller varieties which seems to me a reason to grow them again.
This year I am opting for tomato plants as well as germinating some from seed, mainly to see if buying a ready grafted plant would fruit earlier to give a longer cropping season. I thought the idea on Dobies web site of early delivery from April onwards was a good idea so will see how these plug plants fare. Fortunately I have several varieties of tomato seeds left over from last season to germinate this year.
I also bought a host of other seeds and veg; salad crops, onions, courgettes, cucumbers, garlic, carrots the list goes on.If you are busy planning your veg plot, its good to check first what's left of from last year's seed selection as many seeds are viable for several years. Given that seed is quite expensive it is worth checking what's in hand already. I have a lot of herbs seeds, Pea, tomato and lettuce seeds left over from last year. Seed keeps well in a sealed metal tin, better than in plastic as drier and I keep it in the fridge where it is cool and dark. The most important thing is to keep seeds dry, if they get damp there is a real risk they will rot. Many seeds will keep for years. I always try old seed first and it is generally successful, although for carrot and parsley it is best to buy fresh.
Just a few weeks and it will be time to think about germinating the early seeds under cover. One of the best things about gardening is always looking forward.