As our clients will know, my veggie coffins (beds) have been in use for two years now, and I have already grown a lot of vegetables (which means too many!). I have to confess that I haven’t yet bothered with brassicas as I don’t really want the faff. But Dave and I have had lots of lovely runner beans, courgettes, beetroot, radish, spring onions, lettuce etc.
We have also tried some slightly less common vegetables, so I thought I would just share my experiences with you. This blog should really be titled “Lessons I have learned” because whilst I really want to highlight a few big successes that you might like to try for yourselves, there have also been a few less successful experiments – all good experience though!
The big star veggies this year were my baby aubergines (ok, I know that they are strictly speaking a fruit, or rather berry).
I grew a variety called Pot Black, not in my veggie beds, but in pots – as I wanted to give them the shelter of the west facing house and garage walls. They are attractive plants in their own right (so worth the space), with big leaves and a long succession of mauve flowers all summer long, and then towards the end of the summer, an endless supply of small aubergines (anything from table tennis ball to small tennis ball size).
Like tomato plants, they became rather shabby as autumn approached, but well worth a go in a pot or two on a warm patio.
Italian Red Chicory
Another slightly unusual plant – Italian Red Chicory. I have grown a variety called Palla rossa precoce for the last two years (although Treviso is probably better known).
This is a useful plant – the younger plants provide slightly bitter reddish salad leaves, but a few plants can be left to mature to large round bright red heads – great for braising or roasting – in late summer and early autumn. The plants suffered a bit in the wet late summer this year, but perhaps because I squashed too many in!
Another success story: last year I grew packs of mixed cut and come again salad leaves. This year I grew rows of individual plant types, which was much more gratifying – Mizuna, Mustard (red), baby Pak Choi, baby Spinach, Ruby Chard (baby leaf variety), Beetroot Bulls Blood (leaf variety), Rocket etc.
They all lasted a long time before needing re-sowing. In fact the Chard and Beetroot lasted all summer.
A success but……
Ok, so I wanted to grow some Nasturtiums – to give a bit of wild flower colour to the veggie coffins and so that I could add the flowers to our salads.
And indeed, the flowers tasted (and are still tasting) and looked fab in salads – but the wild flower colour has been rather too wild, and the Nasturtiums have had to be repeatedly restrained from overwhelming their neighbours. Perhaps fewer plants, and in pots next year methinks.
And the not so good…
And of course there have been some dismal failures. My Fennel (which I love) last year rapidly bolted. And this year, I attempted a few dwarf broad beans (which I also love, but hubbie hates) – complete waste of space! Ditto Celtuce. But you live and learn!
And next year’s seed catalogues have just arrived…….ah, what shall I have a play with next year?