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!



My Vegetable Plot

“A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; industry and thrift; above all entire trust.  Gertrude Jekyll 1843-1932.”

So here we are, pictures of my two rather sad looking vegetable plots – they sit opposite each other toward the rear of our south facing garden.  I know I am very lucky to have two.

Plot A, 6 meters x 1 1/2 meters approx.,  runs parallel to the south-east fence, and as you can imagine, gets lots of sun during our long summer days; from mid-morning until the sun finally takes it leave from the very farthest southern tip in the late evening.  I have found that the couple of things I have planted here have had no problem establishing and if I had taken a little more care of them would have flourished wonderfully for me!

Last year I loosely divided the bed into three and the plan was to grow root vegetables in the first, most northerly section, cabbages in the middle section and peas and beans in the most southerly section.  This way the beans would not be blocking the sunlight to the rest of the bed in the later part of the day.  My plan fell to bits due to lack of motivation on my part (ok – I did give birth so was a little distracted…..) but I don’t want to make excuses!

As I mentioned earlier, Plot B sits on the opposite fence, the south-west.  It is slightly smaller that Plot A at 5 meters by 1 meter approx.  In the winter, the light is very feeble and it looks incredibly sad.  In the summer it gets the very first of the suns rays and enjoys the sunlight right through until early afternoon when the sun passes the yard-arm (wonderful english expression!) However, I suspect that I wont be able to grow anything that requires lots of light.  Quite a limiting factor in gardening!

Last year I planted a courgette (zucchini) and a cucumber here.  Neither of these did very well and with hindsight it was not a good place to plant them.  They obviously both need lots of light (maybe their large leaves should have warned me?) and they just didn’t get enough there.  The salad leaves that I planted at the north end of the plot did do ok and I think that I am going to have to dedicate this plot henceforth to plants of the leafy salad variety.

My plan now is to weed and generally clean up the plots in preparation for the coming growing season.  But I am unsure what I should do about enriching the soil?  Both plots had a good lot of muck added in their first year, and last year each had quite a good amount of compost from our home ‘grown’ compost bin.  Is that sufficient for this year?  I have a sneaking suspicion I should be forking in something but am worried that I should have done it in the autumn, as anything I add now will not have time to break down before I need to start planting in a month or so.  Any advice on this score?  It would be greatly appreciated.

Let’s see what gardening joys the upcoming week brings.  I will be sure to tell you about them in my next post!


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