2017 Garden

It’s officially 2017! Another year gone and I really don’t know where it went! 2016 flew past me in whirl of exams, moving and weddings and although it wasn’t my most productive in the garden, it was definitely one of the best years. I know I’m a little late with a Hello 2017 post but January is the busiest month of the year at work so I’m pleased to be posting at all.

2017 Garden

January is on of my favourite times of the year in the garden process. It’s the time when you can sit with a cup of tea, garden journals and seed catalogues. You can put your dreams and ideas for the coming year down on paper in the first step to making them a reality. As this is the first full year of growing at our house I’m more excited than usual for this process. I have two 6ft x 3ft beds and one 3ft x 3ft bed to fill and I’m determined to fill them.

If I’m honest it’s actually a little overwhelming. I keep changing my mind about what to grow, where and how much I’ll need. I’m desperate to get the best use out of my space and make us as self sufficient as possible. I’ve started putting together a list of the fruit and vegetables we regularly consume as the best starting point. From there I’ll take out items that take up to much space or require more work than I can give them this year (I have my final accountancy exams in July!). Depending on how that list looks like I might add a few new things to try for fun.

As soon as my plans are finalised I’ll share it here on the blog.

Sorting the seeds

Another part of my planning process is to go through my packets of seeds. Your seeds are obviously a crucial part of the years planning and so I like to get a handle on what I have and what I need.  Plus who doesn’t love an excuse to go seed shopping?

I’ll be attending the Hereford seed swap again this year with some excess seed packets in the hope of getting some interesting new things to try. If you have a seed swap event in your area I highly recommend going along!

Other plans

If I have any hope of having a successful garden this year I need to get my greenhouse relocated from my parents house. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures of January have not been the most motivating. I’ll need to at least partly take apart the structure to get it over two fences and transport to it’s new home. It was a nightmare to put up and I’m not looking forward to it to  repeating that. Once January is out of the way though it’s going to have to be my main priority.

I’ve also been dedicating a bit of time to planning the front garden. A small patch of our outside area by the front door was ‘landscaped’ when we moved in. I use the term landscaped loosely as they essentially just put a few blocks of different plants in. They’re now overrun by weeds and a complete eye sore. I  have plans for some kind of wildlife/bee friendly flower garden but I’m worried it will look a bit messy for the front of the house.

The blog

I have some big plans for the blog this year. I want to post a lot more regularly and improve the blogs image. I’ve already started by investing in a better WordPress theme and I’m really happy with the results. What do you think? Hopefully as the year goes on you’ll be able to notice the differences starting to appear.

I’d really love to hear about your plans this year so feel free to comment or email me. Happy Growing!

Im a little late with my garden planning this year. January was a pretty horrendous month workwise but, I’ve made it out the other side and February just disappeared!

The big problem is I don’t know where to start with my garden planning this year. Me and my partner have purchased our first house and should be moving in two weeks time.  We’re purchasing a new build property so I haven’t been able to measure and plan the garden. I have a rough idea of how I want it to look but it’ll take time and money to get it that way.

So my plan of action it is to assume things will have to stay at my parents or in my large pots on the patio area that comes with our new home.

Grow what you eat

My first step as always is to make a list of things we eat regularly, I will then eliminate things I don’t have room for/climate for and finally add one or two things I’d like to try. This leaves me with a list that looks like this:

  1. Tomato
  2. Cucumber
  3. Spinach
  4. Peppers
  5. Onions
  6. Carrots
  7. Beetroot
  8. Peas
  9. Runner beans
  10. Parsnips
  11. Leeks
  12. Spring onions
  13. Salad leaves
  14. Strawberries
  15. Courgettes – newbie
  16. Sweet corn – newbie
  17.  Blueberries – newbie

There are tons of things I’d love to try but limiting it to a few a year means I don’t get overwhelmed and fail.

Usually I’d draw out my area and decided where things will go but this year I’m just going to start things off and look at my situation when they need to go outdoors.

Timing is everything

I’ve made a list of all my items on a timeline showing when seeds need to be sowed inside, outdoors and when they can be planted out.

As far as possible I will be following the square foot planting method as I did last year. I really enjoyed the organisation and the knowledge of exactly which plant was where.

As i’m behind in the planning i’m also behind in the sowing but I don’t think it’s too much of a problem this year. The weather has been awfully peculiar (it was trying to snow here last week!) and it wouldn’t hurt to make sure we’re past any danger of frost and snow that could damage small seedlings.

I will start some sowing seeds this coming weekend if it kills me! What has everyone planted so far?

Vegetable seeds

My seeds are here! Isn’t that a brilliant site, almost as satisfying as the first signs of growth on your seedlings…almost.

So, for those of you that are curious these are the selections I have made for this year:

  • Courgette – F1 Green Bush
  • Runner Bean – Scarlet Emperor
  • Broccoli – F1 Stromboli
  • Carrot – Early Nantes 5 and Autumn King 2 (Autumn King 2 weren’t from Suttons as I already had a pack)
  • Onion – Bedfordshire Champion
  • Leek – Lyon
  • Peppers – Californian Wonder
  • Peas – Early Onward (I haven’t purchased these yet as i’m pretty sure I can get them cheaper than they were on Suttons website)

How I choose seeds

Now to be honest there weren’t many factors in the selection process of the varieties. Once I’d considered the vegetables I wanted to grow and the vegetables I could grow in the space I had  the only remaining factors for me were:

1. Cost

I’m an accountant, so for me cost is key. Low initial costs + large savings from the produce = one happy Becky.

2. Popularity. reliability and reviews

Of course low-cost isn’t always the best or most reliable item, so I looked for the most popular cheaper varieties followed by some research into customer and fellow garden bloggers reviews. A few, such as Autumn King 2 Carrots and Californian Wonder Peppers I have grown before with success so they made the list.

3. Harvest period

I like a long harvest period. And I don’t like to wait months for that period to begin after I’ve planted. Obviously, with some plants this is unavoidable but so far as I can that is what I look for in my varieties. As I’ve previously said my goal is to maximise good produce and lower costs, and this system works for me.

I have a few other things I’m going to grow in containers such as tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies that i already have seeds for.

This month I’ll be sowing Gardener’s Delight tomatoes, Jalapeno chillies and Lyon leeks. So what seeds have you ordered or planning to grow this year?

image

Planning is an essential part of all aspects of life. Without a plan how will you know your successes from your failures or whether your goals are being achieved. It also helps to know when things need to be done to. It ensures limited time is used effectively and in the case of gardening, that seeds are sown at the best time for germination.

So for the last week or so I’ve been planning my 2015 garden!

In past years I’ve had a very laid back approach to sowing my seeds i.e. I chuck a ton of seeds into the rows I’ve made and see what happens (bar a few things I start in pots inside). This year however, I’ve done a little research and have decided to give the square foot method a try.

The plan

For those of you who don’t know, the square foot method of planting is where you divide your planting area into square foot sections. You plant a certain number of plants per square depending on that plants spacing requirements. Here’s my square foot plan:

Garden plan small 2 (Sorry it’s so small – please click the image to see a larger version)

I’m hoping this will really maximise my growing space. I mean I won’t be self sufficient of course, but I should have a pretty decent crop of mine, and the other half’s favourites. Along with a few new crops! That’s the idea anyway…

Step by Step

To decide on what I would grow and where I completed the following steps:

    1. Measured my raised bed (Okay, confession – I actually did this last but I REALLY should have done it first, luckily for me my guess at the size was correct!).
    2. Created a list of the households favourite fruit and vegetables ( I went through the most meals made and listed the vegetables to find the most used).
    3. Researched how many plants for each of the above would fit into one of my square foot spaces (You can find this easily enough on google/Pinterest).
    4. Drew out my area and allocated plants according to the information above (See above picture – I originally created this in excel so I could easily move things around).
    5. Selected and ordered seeds from Suttons (The fun bit! I’ve included all of this information in a separate sheet to track expenses. It’ll also get added to my garden journal to track each variety through the year).

That’s the main bed done. I’ll be growing a few tomatoes etc. in the greenhouse but not so much planning is required as they’ll all be in pots. Now all I need to do is wait for the seeds to arrive! I’m very excited! Especially as I managed to get some brilliant looking seed tins for a just £1 each. I will go through the varieties I’ve decided on and my garden journal when my seeds arrive. I’m always interested in how others organise and plan so please comment or link to posts about your strategies.

My name is Becky and I am a vegetable grower….

My little slice of heaven

Okay, Okay…maybe I haven’t been so much recently. But 2015 is the year that I get back on track with my favourite hobby!

Rather than dwell on the sorry state of my garden area I got straight to work planning and researching and collecting ideas for the 2015 growing season. I gathered my supplies and went about devising a list of vegetables I wanted to grow, the layout I would use and pest control systems I would implement (A little over the top perhaps? Ah well you’ll soon learn I love to plan and organise).

During this time I spent a lot of time reading other garden and allotment blogs, some of which I am now an avid reader. Seeing the feedback and support provided by other like minded individuals from all around the world I decided I’d give the blog world a whirl. This blog will also provide me with an easy way to document and look back upon any successes or failures.

Please feel free to pass on any tips or information you have found valuable throughout your own journeys as I’d love to learn.