Saturday 18 January 2020

Gardening with ME: plans for the kitchen garden this coming season

I've been mulling over what to grow in my veg beds this coming season. I decided to focus on the following categories:

A) veg I love but cannot easily get hold of from our local supermarket,
B) veg I love but makes good sense to grow yourself, and
C) some veg I love and just want to grow my own.

This might seem like I'm not leaving much out, but I'm pretty much excluding most of the large Brassica family, as I find them just too much work. In particular, dealing with the depredations of the cabbage white moth, even when using protection such as agricultural mesh. I'm not bothering with Carrots as carrot fly can be quite a pest, again, even when using protection. Anything (except pumpkin/squash, see C below) that requires lots of heat, which you can never guarantee in and English summer, is being left out. So no aubergines, cucumbers or sweetcorn.

In category A fit veggies such as Kohl Rabi, Fennel bulbs, Peas, Tatsoi and Broad Beans. Whilst peas are common, fresh peas are not, and the same with Broad Beans. I adore Broad Beans, and sowed some this Autumn past, and because of the mild winter, they have already taken off.

Some Broad Beans picked last year

Kohl Rabi, is part of the Brassica family, but from previous experience I've learned that it didn't seem to be bothered by pests, in particularly, the cabbage white moth. I'm growing it because it tastes good (roasted in particular), and I mean, how can you not grow it. It's purple. It looks like an alien. It's purple!

Mmmmm, purple Kohl Rabi

Roasted Fennel bulbs are divine. They have a licorice flavour, and even my partner, who doesn't like licorice at all, adores roasted fennel bulbs. I'm going to try Tatsoi because I do love making stir fry and the only place I can buy it requires a car journey.

The main veg in category B is lettuce. Not only do I find a lot of lettuce from the supermarkets bland, more importantly, it's easy to grow, and mine won't be covered in plastic. Lettuce is also one of those veg where one packet of seeds can supply us in salads for months. I'll be growing a mix of salads, including 'Bronze Arrow', a excellent cultivar from the Heritage Seed Library. I'm going to try and grow enough to save some seeds from these.

I also find Climbing and Dwarf French beans easy to grow and fresh beans are so good. The bonus is, if I end up not picking them, I can let them go to seed and then use those in stews in winter.

A pumpkin grown a few years ago

Finally, the those I just love, category C, which include my beloved garlic, but also courgettes and pumpkin/winter squash. Yes, pumpkins need a good period of heat and decent autumn. So this year, I stopped myself from ordering some Queensland Blue seeds (a massive pumpkin), and instead I'm just going to try a couple of the smaller cultivars such as Blue Kuri.
Of course, there is a proviso on any plans, my health. You cannot plan for the daily, sometimes even hourly, fluctuations and impact of ME. But I can plan for best case scenario, with the understanding that all might fall apart if the ME symptoms get worse. And to be kind to myself about this, if this is the case.

I've purchased the seeds I didn't have, some from Real Seeds and Seed Co-op, plus this years Heritage Seed Library seed choices have arrived. Now it's just waiting for it to warm up enough to be worth making the first sowings.