The Planting Plan

If you want to know when to sow, take your trousers down and sit on the ground.

This is another old wives tale – and what a fantastic one.  I can just imagine scores of gardeners across the country, subjecting their rear ends to all sorts of uncomfortablenss by taking down their trousers and sitting on the ground.  But apparently if the temperature of the soil doesn’t make you leap up with a screech, but actually feels quite comfortable, then it’s the perfect time for sowing your seeds.  The ground is warm enough!  Classic.

Well, for me  it has been a busy week of planning and digging.  I have drawn up my planting plan for this year and I have also dug into my vegetable plots some well rotted cow manure (ewww ‘cow poo!’ exclaimed my 5 year old!).  It is well rotted, almost looks like earth and does not smell at all and is as advised by commonredstart in my previous post  as I really should have done it back in Autumn to give it all a chance to rot down really well and not damage the young seedlings.  Well, better late than never!

In drawing up my planting plan, I was guided by two excellent books.  One was recommended to me by a gardening friend.  This is Joy Larkcom’s ‘Grow Your Own Vegetables’ and is apparently a classic.  It is very detailed and informative and is a great read on its own.  The second was given to me by my boys for my recent birthday.  It is Dr D. G. Hessayon’s ‘The Vegetable & Herb Expert’.  Its sub-heading proclaims ‘The world’s best selling book on vegetables & herbs’.  Well, how can you argue with that?  It’s a must have for the gardening book shelf!

I like the vegetable and herb expert as it is easily read and digested.  It devotes 3-4 pages per vegetable or herb in a consistent format and has seed facts, soil facts, sowing facts, looking after the crop, harvesting and kitchen uses.  It also talks about pests and diseases with some (frankly yucky looking) pictures!  It also explains about crop rotation and plant families.  Very useful.

Grow Your Own Vegetables has this in spades (hah, get it?!) and more, in much more detail.  It’s a real read.  I glad I bought this as I am finding it is great relaxation reading and it’s wonderful to be able to get expert in-depth knowledge about the subject. I think the two books compliment each other very well.

So this is my planting plan.  Let me know if you see any glaring errors, or anything you think will not work.  Any advice is much appreciated.

2012 Vegetable Planting Plan

2012 Vegetable Planting Plan

This coming week, as the weather is so nice, I will be getting the seeds all sown.  I have been advised to do this in seedling pots as it is early still and we may still get some frosts….  I will let you know how I get on!

P.S.  And I’m using my hands to check the temperature of the soil……… I’m a chicken, I know!

Simone.

Companion Planting In The Vegetable Garden

Companion Planting with Herbs

Companion Planting with Herbs

I have done some research in the last week regarding the old wives tale quote in last week’s post;

Always grow some herbs outside the herb garden.

Having no idea why, I did some reading and discovered the reason:  many herbs attract beneficial insects or repel harmful insects to the vegetable garden.

Additionally, some plants get along well together whilst other plants don’t.  So to encourage the best growth etc, it is advisable to plant crops that like each other, near each other.

This I find wonderfully exciting.  It opens up the idea that the vegetable garden can be an ornamental as well as functional place.  For example, the planting of rosemary, pot marigolds, thyme or oregano around certain vegetables, not only benefits their growth, but will look absolutely lovely as well.  Bonus!

After reading through tables and tables and many different lists of the different herbs that plant well with vegetables, I put together the following list.  This is based on what I will have in my vegetable garden, (more on my 2012 planting scheme next week) what I would be able to use in the kitchen, and what I think will look nice.

My Herbal Companion Planting List for 2012

  • Pot Marigolds.  These seem to benefit many vegetables by naturally secreting an insect repellant.  They also produce a root secretion that destroys root-eating nematodes and attract Hoverflies whose larvae feed on Aphids.  Definitely my number 1 companion plant.
  • Sage.  Grow with carrots or plants in the cabbage family to deter pests. Both have strong scents that drive away each other’s pests.
  • Parsley.  Attracts bees and protects beans and carrots.
  • Mint.  The strong smell confuse pests of carrots, tomatoes, alliums and brassicas, and deter flea beetles. But it is recommended you grow it in a pot, or it could smother your crop.
  • And finally, Yarrow – encourages growth in plants and stores phosphorous, calcium and silica, which can benefit homemade compost when plants are added to the heap. It attracts many beneficial insects such as hoverflies and ladybirds.

So it is off to the garden centre to buy some herb seeds or seedlings.  Also, I already have rosemary and thyme in my borders.  I will try taking some cuttings and seeing if I can get them to ‘take’ as the experts say.  I will let you know how I get on!

Link to some great books on companion planting.

Simone.

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