The dream is to one day be completely self sufficient. I am realistic enough to know that this day is not just around the corner but that doesn't mean I lose focus on my aim. Every tiny step gets me closer to this life goal and at the moment I think it is worth us all just focusing on growing more fruit and veg than we did last year.
It doesn't matter if that means you grew nothing last year -
just start small with one or two things this year.
I figured if I make it my goal to just top the previous year, then one day we will have grown and stored enough food to last us all year (in theory!)
I am not actually sure sometimes which I enjoy more, the planning or the doing! But either way the planning has to be done to get the most out of your garden/greenhouse or window ledge space. Some people suggest growing vegetables or varieties that you rarely find in the shops. Others suggest simply growing what you eat most of. Both make sense but this year I have two new considerations. I am thinking about which edibles will allow me to harvest for more months of the year rather than just planting in Spring and harvesting in Summer. You can focus on this even if you have a small space - rather than just sticking to basil, what herbs could you grow earlier or later in the year? Tomatoes are great to grow in pots but then you could use these pots for winter salads afterwards.
I have grown tomatoes (when house situation has permitted) for the past 12 years and it is always the same experience. I get overly excited in February to be able to make a start on sowing seeds and plant about 20 seeds, marvel with delight when the seedlings first appear, forget to water them, declare in July that they are hopeless and must do better next year and then find myself eating tomatoes with every meal in August and September because my 20 full grown plants have decided to prove me wrong. Unfortunately, so predictable! (but I really will try to remember to water them more this year).
So what else is on the list?
I have grown beetroot, courgettes and spinach before with success but not since we moved into our cottage so will be aiming to give those a try again. Myles happily eats sliced raw beetroot in salads and whilst I'm not keen on beetroot but I like the leaves which saves them going on the compost heap. It's worth asking what the other people in your house would like you to grow, especially if you end up with a glut of a certain vegetable. When they have had courgette soup for the 15th day in a row you can remind them they asked you to grow it!
In terms of herbs and salads, I have grown basil and coriander before but never in decent quantities. This year I would like to aim to be able to make some pesto with the basil and freeze it to use throughout the year. I think the key here is not to grow pots and pots of basil but to keep sowing more every few weeks so that you have a constant supply. To make sure I have something to harvest over winter I am going to try some lambs lettuce, again grown successionally to see if I can get a fairly continuous supply.
New this year
I have never planted and grown a tree before because we hadn't owned our garden until we moved house last year. Whilst we have a few apple and plum trees in the main garden, I have found a nice spot in the front garden where I think a fruit tree would look beautiful. I am very tempted to try a pear tree which is a favourite fruit for both of us. This is the time of year to plant fruit trees I believe so I better get researching and digging!
Every year I grow sweet peas for their lovely scent and to be able to pick them and bring them inside. I often overwinter them to get the flowers as early as possible. We have the same conversation each year when Myles pokes his head in the greenhouse in early Spring hoping for a tasty snack...
"So are these peas?"
"They are sweet peas Myles"
"Ooooh sweet peas, can you eat them then?"
"Well, I am growing them for the flowers not the peas"
"...so you can't eat then"
"huh...why are you growing something we can't eat?!"
So this year, for the first time, I am going to grow some edible peas for Myles.
I always grow my veg from seeds because I just find the process so remarkable and rewarding. I also know exactly what I have added (or more importantly not added) to the soil it is growing in. I am looking into some British grown seeds at the moment (potential separate blog post to follow if people are interested) but I have listed below the varieties of seeds I usually use below in case you wanted to try any of the same for your vegetable growing this year.
Cherry tomatoes - Sungold (the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes you have ever tasted)
Garlic - Solent wight
Beetroot - Alto but tempted to try a rainbow mix for fun
Courgettes - Goldmine
Spinach - Amazon
Peas - yet to decide! Let me know any suggestions you have.
Winter salads - Lambs lettuce
Pear tree - probably Conference or Beth
My advice for planning your vegetable growing this year would be to limit the time you spend planning (something I am very bad at) and just make a start! In my experience you learn a lot more by doing than planning and making mistakes is what gardening is all about. It never matters because you can try again next year with your new knowledge.
Think carefully about the focus of your fruit and vegetable growing - is it going to be varieties you can't find in the shops or to grow expensive fruits like berries or even focus on salads which almost always come wrapped in plastic in the supermarkets. It doesn't matter what your focus is for this year, but it can be helpful to have one. Enjoy your planning and let me know what your focus is going to be in the comments below or over on Instagram.
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