Vegetable patch - where to start ?(14 Posts)
Just moved, bought a huge greenhouse on ebay at the weekend and now we're going to rejig things so we can do a proper vegetable patch. I think we'll start small this year. We've inherited a good compost heap, I've found a source of rotted (2year old) horse manure so I think we're good to go. The soil is clay, the patch should get sun but not all of the day (no part of the garden does).
Raised bed or just a regular bed ?
Any particular orientation ?
Best veg to start with (got the greenhouse to start stuff off) ? I'm planning tomatoes and peas but the kids want carrots and cauliflowers.
I'd appreciate any nuggets of advice (anything to divert from the bamboo I haven't started on).
Ooh how exciting well jell.
Grow what you like eating. I preferred raised beds and made most of mine by plonking a frame on the ground, covering the grass inside with a thick layer of newspaper, then covering that to the depth of the frame with a mix of topsoil and well rotted manure. No digging or weeding. Easy peasy.
Potatoes are a good starter, they cover lots of ground and smother weeds. But you can never start your asparagus bed off too soon. Yum yum.
I need to measure up. I think a raised bed is supposed to be twice as far as you can reach so about 1.5m but I guess length should be 4m or so because if its a lot longer its a long walk around it ?
if you're on clay think about your drainage. Have a think about where the good sun is as you will get most crops if it is sunnier and think about what you enjoy eating
and if you want fruit plants bows a good time to buy bare root fruit bushes
We had a lovely crop of carrots last year and not one attacked by carrot root fly. We grew them in wooden boxes raised well off the ground.
Runner and French beans, spring onions, courgettes, beetroot are all easy to grow. I have less luck with the cabbage family but still grow a few red cabbage and sprouts.
If you've got room try some soft fruit gooseberries and black berries are easy. I grow blueberries in pots because they need special soil and I have to protect raspberries from the birds with netting.
Spuds wood be a good start straight into the garden. I find salad crops easier to manage in raised beds and they come on quickly with a small poly tunnel. I'm going to try a bigger poly tunnel this year over part of the main garden.
The end of the garden is the edge of an old orchard so we have 6 apple trees and one green gauge. I plan to plant a plum if it stops raining.
I'm confident with peas, beans, tomatoes and potatoes but I've never had luck with carrots, broccoli or sweet corn - I get the impression they might be fussier soil wise.
How should I improve drainage ? Is it barrows of grit with manure ?
The sun thing is going to be the issue as the tress will prevent all day sun. It's so different to my grandparents veg garden. But we've removed a privet hedge and replaced with hornbeam whips so currently its quite light.
What can I grow in the greenhouse ? Tomatoes, melons, peppers.. Not sure what else. I haven't decided if we'll have dug beds in the house - DH says no....
Greenhouse now plant oriental salads mizuna etc and spinach, I even did radishes one year. Chillis, cucumber also good. I grow dwarf french beans in the greenhouse too early crop and more reliable than outside. I'm giving up on tomatoes bad crop last two years and a lot of effort in terms of watering.
Garlic grows well in my clay soil I should plant it now. Peas v popular with the kids and spinach. Tried sweetcorn not worth it IME need a very sunny summer.
improve your drainage with any old compost you have on site, you can add grit bit the soul structure itself is the key, adding in organic matter is best. If you're not already get composting everything!
oh and if you want to encourage other helpers go for some quick croppers that assist with instant gratification
Broad beans, radish, spring onion, lettuce, beetroot, peas.....
Not everything needs a lot of sun-lots of leafy crops are oK in some shade. I grow things that in the shops are unavailable, tasteless and/or expensive. So I don't bother with onions or main crop potatoes, but do grow quinces, morello cherries, Mara des Bois and Alexandria strawberries, autumn raspberries, lovage, sorrel, lemon verbena, gooseberries, redcurrants and lots more. Bob Flowerdew in one of his books said two really sensible things: the key to success is plenty of water, (wish I had watered more last year!) and growing fruit takes little time and effort compared with growing vegetables.
I was thinking I might do a few potatoes just because they are easy but I agree that there's better things to grow in a limited space. I like raspberries but I've always been disappointed with the 3-4 berries I get per cane. But strawberries - now there's a great idea.
I hadn't thought about an alpine strawberry but they make sense. Do you grow from seed or from plants ? I guess I could put plants in the green house to bring them on, but if I start with seed I assume we won't see fruit this year ?
I have a very old rhubarb crown - just showing around an inch about the ground at the moment. I don't know if it's worth moving to the veg patch or just replace (the nursery didn't have any crowns when I last went).
Didi, I do grow some potatoes, usually something like Belle de Fontenay, a tasty second early.
You could try growing alpine strawberries from seed sown now, I did as earlier-sown Alexandria failed. You probably won't get any fruit this year, but will get sting plants. Or have a look at Pomona Fruits. They sell Mara des Bois, Gariguette, and a nice sounding alpine, strawberry. One excellent thing about alpines is they need to be grown in some shade.
Bear the alpine strawberry not requiring full sun is inspired. I think I'll try some, starting in the greenhouse and moving to beds if/when we get to them. Less pressure as they will be fine in pots.
The good news is that the soil may not be as clay as I thought. We've just dug 3 tonnes of top soil up to make the base for the greenhouse and the soil was wonderful, very few stones, fine but if you squeeze it in your hand it comes together. I'm going to have a glass of wine and start seed shopping now !
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