We’ve been been thinking for some time about what to plant in the gated plot where we grow edible plants. We were proud of last year’s two mange-tout, but the mange-tout and the runner beans were not very productive. We did harvest two beautiful squashes, but squashes take a lot of space. Perhaps we can experiment this year with growing squashes and courgettes upwards rather than outwards?
The main change for this season is that we now have four raised beds. Below are some suggestions for what we might grow in each. I’ve indicated the beds with numbers; but why don’t we call them after people who’ve been closely involved with them? I’m sure Bed 1, for instance, would be better known as ‘Jim’.
Raised bed 1. The salad bed. Our long thin bed underneath the wall seems to have proved its value as a bed for leafy vegetables. We’ve successfully grown chard ‘Bright Lights’ and lettuces from seed there. It’s in partial shade, with the wall sheltering it from harsh winds but also from the late afternoon sun. We can be adventurous by growing interesting varieties of salad leaves. I was amazed by how well mizuna worked last summer, and the deep red lettuce ‘Nymans’ is stunning (see below). Cavalo nero has done well, and is easy to grow from seed.
Click here for detailed plan: Raised bed 1 Leafy veg
Raised bed 2. The bean bed. I think everybody likes the idea of growing green beans, both climbing and dwarf. Dwarf varieties have worked incredibly well in my garden these last two years. Green beans need warmth and sunlight, so maybe we can devote the front central bed which gets most sunshine to these, with two wigwams of six beans, and perhaps a bush courgette on the corner and some onions at the back. We could try a standard green climbing bean and perhaps a purple one as well.
Click here for detailed plan: Raised bed 2 Bean bed
Raised bed 3. The raspberry bed. In the back central bed, we’ve planted the raspberry canes. At the front of the bed, I was wondering about planting beetroot. I think it likes similar soil conditions to raspberries and it will tolerate some partial shade. And it’s such a wonderful vegetable: grated into a summer salad, cooked, cooled and then chopped with apple and walnut, or roasted and served with sour cream or crumbled goats’ cheese. Then we might have room for a dwarf courgette on the inside corner where it will get most light.
Click here for detailed plan: Raised bed 3 Sun-shade bed
Raised bed 4The apple tree bed. Brighton Permaculture are helping us to create a mini-orchard. We plan to plant three Sussex varieties of apple in our north-side bed and grow them as cordons up the south-facing wall. That would leave us with a bit of room to do some ‘underplanting’ that would not disturb the fruit tree roots or drain too much in the way of nutrients from the soil. Strawberries seem to work well. I’m trying this in my front garden, and last year’s new plants produced quite a few plantlets that we can transplant to the station garden. We could also try growing some herbs and more leafy crops such as rocket.
Click here for detailed plan: Raised bed 4 South facing wall
Tomato pots: We’ve got room on the pallet platform nearest the gate for about six tomato plants. We can probably also find room for pots with chilis and sweet peppers which love the sun; the advantage of growing in pots is that we can move them around to get the most light.
Further ideas? I remember someone mentioning how lovely the Preston Park demonstration garden looked with its companion plants of golden marigold and deep blue cornflower. What with wine-red ‘Nymans’ lettuce, yellow and blue flowers, scarlet chillies, and the crimson and yellow stalks of chard ‘Bright Lights’, we should manage a colourful display.