Planning the Plot: Legume Bed 2016

The legumes for this year are to  be situated in what has come to be known as bed number 1. This is the bed closest to ‘front’ of the allotment and which runs the full width of the allotment. It is the longest bed on the plot, beating the other three by a good six foot. It’s situated in between, and divides, what I like to think of as the two industrial areas of the plot, these being the shed area and the future greenhouse area. As a result I have decided to create a path joining these two areas, I can already feel the temptation to take a short cut across the bed so it makes sense to create a short cut rather than find myself frustrated in a few months at having to take the long way round. To make sure the path isn’t dead space I plan to put an arch over the path to grow french beans up. My only concern being that this might cast too much shade, however, from watching the path of the sun last year I think it will be high enough for this not to be a problem during the summer months.

Legume Plot

Here is a list of veggies that will be going into the legume bed:

French Climbing Beans – Variety: Borlotto Lingua De Fuoco – This heritage verity heralds from Italy and the name translates to ‘Tongue of Fire’ which most likely refers to their pinkish outer shell. The majority of the harvest will be dried ready for use in stews and casseroles later in the year, although a few might find their way into a summer salad or two. My current ambition is to grow them up and over an archway which will line a path through the bed, however, I am concerned that this will cast too much shade on to it’s neighbours. They won’t need planting out till June so I’ll be watching the sun over the next few months to see if it’s arch is high enough for this not to be too much of a factor.

Courgette – Variety: Sunstripe – As their name hints at this British bred variety produces  bright yellow fruit with white stripes and, if I’m being honest, this is the only reason that I picked this variety up. I have since learnt that they are also spineless plants (always a bonus!). I think that the colour will be a lovely addition to most salad and pasta dishes come the end of summer.

Peas (early) – Variety: Twinkle – Again, another British bred variety that was picked primarily because of it’s name (you’ll see a recurring theme throughout these posts). I did do quite a bit of research on varieties because I’m quite excited about growing my own peas, having only ever eaten frozen ones, but that went straight out of the window when I was browsing in the garden centre and saw the name Twinkle, how could I resist?! I will be growing them up peasticks because I quite like the ramshackle rustic look of them.

Peas (Main) – Variety: Alderman – This well known heritage variety was well researched and chosen based on it’s reputation for being a reliable heavy cropper.

Peas (Sugar) – Variety: Kennedy – A British bred super sweet mangetout variety. We eat quite a lot of mangetout in salads, particularly sautéed and tossed in a little bit of decent olive oil so I was looking for an attractive high yielder that would last us through the growing season.

Pumpkin – Variety: Jack Of All TradesWhen looking at pumpkins the temptation to go for one of the giant varieties was very strong but, in the end, I was one over by the phrase “Perfectly proportioned for carving!”. The idea of carving a handsome pumpkin that I’d grown from seed was just too much of a draw.

Runner Beans – Variety: Scarlet Empire – Another variety that I saw mentioned time and time again when looking for a reliable heavy cropper. These will be grown up a frame at the end of the bed so as not to cast too much shade on any crops. They should be far enough in from the boundary that they won’t cause too much bother for the neighbours either.

Squash (Autumn) – Variety: Autumn Crown – This variety is the result of crossing a “Crown Prince” squash with a butternut squash and the fruit bears the shape of one parent and the colour of the other. More importantly for me it has inherited the Crown Prince’s early ripening habit, setting fruits at least a month before other butternuts, thus making it suitable for growing further north.

Planning the Plot: The Fruit Cage

Following on from Monday’s post about the newly built strawberry cage I thought I would share the other plans for fruit on the allotment. I would quite like to have a variety of soft fruit available on the allotment as it’s not something I buy from shops very often due to the price. I object to paying two, three or even four pounds for 100 grams of watery, tasteless fruit that’s often been frozen and shipped in from abroad.

Aside from trying to get better value for money I can’t deny that there is something quite nostalgic about picking your own fruit. I remember numerous summers spent with my Granddad in strawberry fields and between rows of raspberries picking our own fruit, taking the punnet to pay at the end and being adamant you hadn’t eaten any extra despite having lips so red they would have made Marilyn jealous.

So alongside strawberries I will be growing:

fruit cage

Gooseberries: I’m going to get off to a good start by saying that I don’t really like gooseberries, but these came with the plot and it seems a shame to waste such productive bushes. Most harvests will be going to my mother, who does like them.

Redcurrants: These have been specially requested by my other half, seeing as he is my chauffeur to the garden centre I suppose he should be allowed to pick one fruit.

Blackcurrants: I can’t really remember ever having a blackcurrant that wasn’t in Ribena but I read an article recently about how blackcurrants trump blueberries when it comes to their “superfood” powers, plus I live with a man who loves a pudding in any shape or form so I can’t see any going to waste.

Raspberries: Our plot came with some raspberries that I think might be summer fruiting, they’re being treated that way at least. I want to supplement these with some autumn fruiting canes as well.

Blackberries: I love blackberries and although I’ve read that their bushes can be a bit of a bully I’m willing to try training one or two just for the reward of the fruit.

Grapes: The position of the fruit cage means that the longest side is south-facing and in my mind this is just begging to be the home of a grape vine. I love grapes but need to do some research about which varieties won’t be troubled by being outdoors in northern Britain.

Planning the Plot: 2016 Varieties

The months since I got the keys to plot 23b have been spent steadily collecting packets of seeds from various sources, some of these were bought because they were reduced, some came free from magazines and some from friends and family. A few have been researched more thoroughly than is probably necessary, whilst others were bought on a whim. There are a few that ended up in the stash simply because I was just plain curious about them (I’m looking at you Cucamelon!)

It now occurs to me, looking at the list below, that I am perhaps being a tad over ambitious for my first full year on the plot, but I feel that there is undoubtedly just as much to be learnt from throwing yourself in head-first than there is from taking a more cautious approach. I just hope my windowsills can bear the weight of the multitudes of seed trays that are coming their way.

Without further ado, here is what I’m hoping to grow in 2016 and the varieties that I will be growing:

 Vegetable  Variety
Aubergines: Moneymaker
Beetroot: Perfect 3
Boltardy
Borlotti Beans: Lingua De Fuoco
Broccoli: Redhead (Purple Sprouting)
Brussels Sprouts: Revenge
Petit Posy Mix (Flower Sprouts)
Cabbage (Early Summer): Elisa’ F1
Cabbage (Summer/Autumn): Surprise
Red Jewel F1 (Red)
Cabbage (Winter): January King 3 (Savoy)
Siberia (Savoy)
Carrot: Chanterey Red Cored 2
Early Nantes 2
Autumn King 2
Cauliflower: Autumn Giant
Courgette: Sunstripe
Cucamelon: Melothria
Cucumber: Masterpiece
Jogger F1
Kale: Nero Di Toscana
Leaf Beet: Perpetual Spinach
Leek: Musselburgh
Lettuce/Salad: Rocket, Mustard Mix, Watercress, Mixed Lettuce
Pak Choi: White F1
Parsnip: Pinnacle
Peas: Keveldon Wonder (First Early)
Twinkle (First Early)
Alderman (Main)
Kennedy (Mangetout)
Pepper: Cayenne
Potatoes: Pentland Javelin (First Early)
Charlotte (Second Early)
Vivaldi (Second Early)
Golden Wonder (Maincrop)
Pumpkin: Jack Of All Trades
Radish: Rougette
Helox F1
Runner Beans: Scarlet Empire
Spinach: Bordeaux
Swede: Virtue
Sweetcorn: Butterscotch
Swiss Chard: White Silver
Squash: Autumn Crown
Tomato: Green Grape
Super Sweet 100
Turnip: Milan Purple Top