We’ve drawn up our outline planting plan for 2015 for the edible growing plot. The big news is that we’re going to try ‘three sisters’ planting: sweet corn, climbing beans and courgettes/squash. The idea is that these three plants help each other. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil and the squash/cougettes spread along the ground forming a ‘mulch’, protecting moisture in the soil and preventing weeds. We going to use the sunniest raised bed for this: we know courgettes and beans grow well and easily, sweet corn is a bit of an unknown quantity, but having just been given some sweet corn seeds, it’s definitely worth a try.
Having gone through our joint seed collection, we’ve got everything we need for the new season except … chard. We have a whole range of different climbing beans: yellow, green and purple pods. We have Italian courgettes and winter squash. We only need a few tomato plants, but we have plenty of seed. Last year’s attempts with beefsteak tomatoes were not particularly successful, so we’re back to the reliable and heavy cropping cherry tomatoes. Collectively, we have a wide range of salad leaf seeds and despite the frustrations of caterpillar invasions and tough leaves, we are going to grow cavalo nero again in the shadier raised bed at the back of the garden. Our ‘three leaf (chard, rocket, cavalo nero) three cheese’ lasagne has been a hit at two harvest suppers now, and we know it’s easy to grow.
We’re moving our strawberry bed and leaving the growing area in the second ‘orchard’ bed free for the moment for later inspiration. And we’ll no doubt be sowing some marigolds and other ‘companion’ plants to provide colour and distraction for pests. With luck, this year’s frost will have prevented the kind of aphid attack our fruit trees suffered last year but we’ll probably spray our trees next week with an organic garlic-based wash which discourages the aphids. I’m assuming, of course, that the garlic flavour will have worn off by the time we come to harvest the apples: not a great combination.