Grow Your Own – Planting the plot

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Earlier in the year I decided to convert the flower bed closest to the house into a vegetable patch. The soil wasn’t very good so I decided raised beds were the answer. I got them from Harrod Horticultural. They seemed to be the best price around.

They were pretty easy to build and I filled them with a mixture of top soil (best and cheapest place I found for this was my local garden centre, who delivered two big builders bags), manure and compost about a month ago. They are partly on soil and partly on paving slab. I put a layer of cardboard underneath them to suppress weeds.

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They’ve been covered in black plastic. Largely to keep the cats off, but today was the day for planting!

I also put a layer of copper tape around each one to try and defeat the slugs and snails. Fingers crossed it works.

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I’ve been growing lots of seedlings indoors since February/March, and some stuff I will direct sow.

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I’ve blogged previously about the great ornamental veg garden course I went on at Sarah Raven’s Perch Hill, and I found more inspiration yesterday at the Chelsea Flower Show. There was a fab potager garden on the Marston & Langinger trade stand.

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I’ve learnt that I really like the mix of flowers, fruit and veg all planted together. Which means my planting plan

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which I designed before going on the Sarah Raven course, had to be revised. Well completely thrown out the window!

I’ve never really grown vegetables before, so I’m going to blog about what I am growing, and how I get on.

The beds are 1.2m wide and one is 1.8m long and 45cm deep. The other is 2.4m long and 30cm deep.

I found this seed and measuring spacer from Burgon and Ball really helpful. I used it to create channels for sowing the seeds (on its side, pressed into the soil), and it has a guide to spacing which is a handy reminder. As well as measurements in both imperial and metric.

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This is what I have planted in them. Some as seedlings (grown myself from seed) and some as seeds.

Smaller bed:

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– chard (lucullus)
– spinach (Bordeaux)
– rocket (runway and wild)
– mustard (red giant and red frills)
– beetroot (burpees golden, bolthardy and chioggia)
– carrots (Nantes, little finger and chantenay)
– pac choi
– sorrel (red veined)
– lettuce (little gem, merveille de quatre saison, Descartes, Seurat and reine de glace)

The idea is to have lots of cut and come again veg to use in salads. I’ve tried to pick ones that look as good as they taste.

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I’ve also added lots of flowers around the edge. Including different types of marigold, viola heartsease, nasturtiums and dahlias (at the back). Both for aesthetic reasons and to attract pollinating insects. They’re all edible flowers too.

For bed two I planted:

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– sweetcorn (luscious, popcorn fiesta and minipop)
– butternut squash (just one plant)
– courgette (black beauty and soleil)
– broccoli (cardinal, summer purple, red arrow, Rudolph, autumn)
– Brussel sprout (rubine)

Again I’ve put lots of flowers around the edge. Same as the other bed, but with some rudbeckia thrown in for good measure.

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And I built a cage to hold netting out of bamboo and some clever little rubber gizmos that I bought at Chelsea Flower Show. This is mostly to keep the cats off the bed whilst everything settles in.

Really looking forward to seeing how things get on.

Update 1: only a week later and some of the seeds are already sprouting little seedlings.

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The copper tape seems to be working really well at keeping the slugs and snails away. But the netting hasn’t kept out my naughty cat, who had already been in and knocked a few things around. I have now lengthened it in an attempt to stop her getting in. Fingers crossed!

Update 2: only two weeks on, and lots of signs of life

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Carrots

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Pac choi and little gem lettuce really coming on

Update 3.

Been away for two weeks at the end of June. I think the weather has been hot. I gave it a really good water and left it to it and the plot has gone crazy!! Here are some before and after photos. Just two weeks apart.

Before (mid June):

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After (end of June):

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I actually can hardly believe it!!

And here is what I picked.

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From left to right:
Mustard red frills and giant red, lettuce merveille de quatre saisons, rocket, lettuce reine de glace, pac choi
Plus some (strangely shaped) beetroot

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Not bad for 6 weeks after planting!

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