What I’m Growing in 2021

The weather is just miserable and no doubt there will be more yukky stuff to come, spring can’t come soon enough and I think we’re all holding out for some better weather, a good potter around the allotment without 20 layers of clothes or a snorkel would be lovely. My seed orders have all arrived and now I can list exactly what I plan to grow, there are a lot of old favourites on the list but each year I like to grow one or two new varieties (more have snuck in somehow) and sometimes a crop I’ve never grown before. I hope you enjoy reading through my list, it’s quite long so well done if you make it to the end! 

Beetroot Boltardy, a variety that always does well for me, resistant to bolting hence the name. Deep red colour, super sweet if pulled around the size of a golf ball, lovely earthy flavour when larger. Sits happily through winter. Rather than sow beetroot direct I multi sow into cell trays, around 3 to 4 seeds per cell and plant out in clumps once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, not only do you get more beetroot this way but they tend to stay smaller for longer due to the restricted space in which to grow. 

Beetroot Sanguina, another lovely variety with deep red colour and sweet flavour. Produces lovely leaves which are edible and useful in salads when small or cook like chard. 

Borage, pretty star-shaped blue flowers, great for pollinators and edible too. Will self seed readily.

Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia, great for autumn sowing to get an earlier crop the following year and to avoid blackfly, which doesn’t always go to plan! Mine went in a raised bed in November and are doing well under a tunnel cloche which is open to the elements at both ends. 

Brussels Sprout Bedford, a variety I haven’t grown before so I’m looking forward to seeing how this does. I didn’t choose it for the name – purely a coincidence it will be grown in Bedford, my decision was swayed by the height the plants grow to (2.5ft) which will be better for my exposed plot.

Cabbage Golden Acre (summer), I grew this variety last year and if you could picture the perfect ‘Peter Rabbit’ cabbage then this would be it. Firm ball head cabbages which are a joy to grow and beautiful to look at, a shame to cover them with butterfly netting!

Cabbage Romanov (red summer), beautiful and delicious with a long growing season. Last year I planted strong plants during late summer so no surprise they didn’t get going in time to harvest for a summer crop, however they sat well through late autumn/early winter eventually producing lovely tight heads of rich burgundy red so you could squeeze in a late crop if the weather plays ball. Very nice raw and in coleslaw.

Cabbage Traviata (savoy winter), I do love a savoy cabbage and this is a lovely one to grow, beautiful crinkly leaves which are very winter hardy. Slugs can be more of a problem to winter cabbages due to wet and cool conditions, I keep the numbers down by regularly tidying the plants, removing yellowing or very damaged outer leaves. I find wool pellets (organic and wildlife friendly) to be beneficial.

Calendula Pot Marigold, single orange flowers which are beautiful and edible. 

Carrot Mixed, a blend of purple, orange and yellow carrots – Rainbow, Red Samurai and Purple Haze F1 varieties. I’ve not grown this blend before but I have grown purple carrots which are amazing. The big kid in me chose this variety, I like the idea of not knowing the colour of the carrot I’m going to pull. 

Carrot Autumn King, maincrop carrot that I love growing every year. Big roots packed full of flavour, pull earlier for smaller carrots. This variety sits well over winter without splitting, as long as the slugs don’t find them you will still be pulling carrots into early spring. Don’t forget to thin them if you want big carrots, sow direct from March onwards if soil is not waterlogged or frozen and cover with a tunnel cloche or fleece to aid germination. Once the seedlings appear I place a barrier made of fine mesh and bamboo canes around them to prevent carrot fly damage to the roots. This stays in place till the end of the year.

Celeriac Monarch, I grew celeriac for the first time last year and I’m glad I did. Lovely flavour and delicious roasted, sits well all winter so great for late winter harvests. Seeds take a long time to germinate and need some heat to get them going.

Chard Bright Lights, I tend to grow chard for the stems which are delicious roasted, I like the young leaves in salads and give the larger ones to my chickens, beautiful colours of red, baby pink, yellow and white. Quick to bolt in hot weather, remove the flower stems as they appear at the base to keep the plants producing.

Cosmos Sensation Mixed, a favourite flower on the allotment pulling in the bees right up until a hard frost. Great for cutting and will self seed readily, shades of pink and white.

Dahlia, some mixes and dinner plates! I thought I’d never grown dahlias before but looking back through photos I found that I have but the dainty Bishop types. For my birthday last month I received some tubers and some of them are the huge dinner plate types. I’m looking forward to giving dahlias another go, any planting/growing tips would be great, please leave me a comment.

French Bean (Climbing) Cherokee Trail of Tears, a very rare bean with purple flowers and green or red tinged pods. Pods can be eaten fresh or allow them to dry for the small black beans to use when needed. Really nice bean.

Garlic Red Duke, I grow this hard neck variety every year and keep bulbs back for planting in the autumn, usually around November time. They’re doing well in a raised bed which I’m glad I did given the amount of rain we’ve had so far. Pink/red colour to the skin, white when peeled. Strong spicy flavour.

Kohl Rabi Modrava, a lovely purple variety, delicious raw and tastes just like cabbage. Does well in part shade

Kohl Rabi Olivia, a green variety that to me tastes slightly more ‘cabbagey’ than the purple type listed above. I love them grated into a coleslaw.

Larkspur Giant Imperial, cottage garden and cut flower, long flower spikes above feathery foliage. A new flower for me to try.

Leek Musselburgh, long thick stems with good winter hardiness. Sadly leeks are becoming almost impossible to grow on my allotment site due to leek moth and allium leaf miner. I won’t allow the disappointment of last years awful crop to put me off, I’ll try again but use very fine mesh to cover from time of planting out. Fingers crossed it works.

Nasturtium Salad Mix and Bloody Mary, an allotment garden favourite which pulls in beneficial insects. Flowers and leaves are edible. I grow them for the lovely flowers and as a sacrifice plant – attractive to blackfly and cabbage white butterflies which keeps numbers down on brassica and runner beans, the plants are so prolific when they get going they seem to shake off pests very well. 

Onion Bedfordshire Champion, I usually grow onions from sets but last year I gave seeds a go and now I’m hooked. Using the multi sow method in cell trays I planted out in clumps, pulling immature onions through summer as salad onions, allowing the rest to bulb up. 

Parsnip Gladiator, my favourite variety to grow. Long smooth roots some of which are huge! Sits well through winter.

Pea Jaguar, one of the best peas I’ve ever grown and so delicious I eat them like sweeties so hardly any make it to the kitchen. 

Potato (second early) Charlotte, my favourite potato to grow and eat, delicious small as a salad potato and we use the bigger ones in an air fryer cooked with the skin on and sliced into thick chips/wedges.

Potato (maincrop) King Edward, an oldie but I’ve never grown it before, I usually go for Desiree but fancied a change. I know they’re widely available in supermarkets etc but I believe the taste of a homegrown potato can’t be beaten. 

Runner Bean Polestar, my favourite runner bean variety which are stringless when on the small side. Heavy cropper. 

Squash (summer) Crookneck, I’ve been interested in this variety for a while now and finally I got my hands on some seed. Unusual knobbly yellow squash with a distinctive curved stem or ‘crooked neck’. Should be interesting!

Squash (summer) Verde Di Milano, dwarf bush courgette from Italy. Dark green fruit with bushy growth so great for small spaces, but still produces lots of fruit if regularly picked. I pick them small, lovely raw too.

Squash (winter) Rouge vif d’Etampes, French heirloom pumpkin which is my favourite to grow. Cinderella pumpkins with lovely flavour, I use them to make pumpkin and raisin cake.

rouge vif d' etampes

Squash (winter) Galeuse D’Eysines, another variety I’ve never grown is this French heirloom, fruit ripens to a shade of pink and develops a warty surface when stored. Sounds fab! 

Squash (winter) Crown Prince, I’m super excited to grow this squash as I have heard it tastes great, I can’t believe I’ve never grown it before. Blue/green coloured fruit with yellow flesh. Can’t wait to taste it.

Squash (winter) Sweet Dumpling, lovely little squash with light ribbing and green speckled stripes, attractive and easy to grow and very tasty with a nutty flavour.

Sunflower Russian Giant, Black Magic and Copper Queen, my plot is naked without a sunflower or three and these varieties are just some of my favourites. This is a great mix of single big yellow flowers we all know and love and the multi-branching burnt orange and rich purple that just keep flowering all summer. Just stunning to grow and the bees adore them too.

Sweet Corn Incredible, I really like this variety and it usually grows well for me, producing well-filled sweet cobs from late July onwards depending on planting time and weather. Will grow like stink in well fed soils, plants can reach well over 7ft. 

Tomato Sweet Success, red cherry type for greenhouse or outdoor. New variety for me, looking forward to tasting them.

Tomato Sungold, probably the sweetest tomato I’ve ever grown. Orange/yellow cherry type for greenhouse or outdoor.

Tomato Ruby, large red tomato with superb flavour, I really like this variety and usually grow it every year.

Turnip Petrowski, old variety, yellow in colour with a sweet flavour. I confess to never growing turnips before so I’m excited to give them a go.

Turnip Navet de Nancy, a very old French variety with deep purple colouring to the upper part of the root. I decided to try two different varieties of turnip to get a good feel for growing them, a nice mix of colours. 

Zinnia Forecast and Whirlygig, bold and colourful flowers that look almost tropical, need a good summer otherwise they don’t do so well, great for bees and butterflies.

Leave me a comment if you’re planning to grow something you see, keep in touch, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.

A New Year Begins

It was cold and frosty this morning, a fresh new year, very fresh indeed. My early morning routine is pretty much the same each day, I let the chickens out of the coops and fill up their feeders, on a cold morning I defrost the drinkers too. I don’t keep my chickens on my allotment, there’s not really enough space as our site and plots are on the small side, I’d worry about them too much anyway so I chose to keep them in the garden at home.

My chickens are also on lockdown, an outbreak of bird flu (becoming a regular occurrence at this time of year) means they’re not allowed to free range and have to be kept in a covered enclosure away from wild birds until it’s safe to let them roam again. Luckily my walk-in roofed runs are adequate for keeping my flock safe and unwanted creatures out. When I catch them sulking about the situation I tell them they’re lucky they can still mix with their friends! I will properly introduce my feathery friends on the blog at some point. 

Celeriac and carrot bed weeded and mulched with fresh compost.

I popped to the allotment this afternoon to do a spot of light hand weeding and grab a celeriac and some carrots to go with dinner. The ground was slightly frozen in places but the weeds pulled up easily enough. I love how clean the ground looks after weeding, wrapped up warm I really didn’t feel the cold and it felt good to be doing something on the plot.

Bean bed weeded, I still need to take the hazel poles down!

The leeks are one of the disasters of last year, thanks to leek moth and allium leaf miner. I gave the stronger looking plants a chance to see if they’d improve and some have but others really are just mush waiting to happen now, one small tug and they’ll disintegrate. I’ll be lucky to get a small batch of soup out of this lot. On a positive note I have fallen in love with celeriac after growing it for the first time. Looks aren’t everything, it’s true, for this rather ugly-looking vegetable is absolutely delicious roasted, I like slicing it up thinly and cooking it as crisps. 

My dad was on his plot today, he popped over with Jess the Border Collie to say hello from a safe distance before heading home.

Jess edged her way to the shed to check if I had any biscuits…

And…..

YIKES!!!!

It’s ok, I made it out of the shed in one piece! 

Happy weekend x

New Year Wish

Although we head into the new year on lockdown and skating on thin ice with this rotten virus, I sincerely hope 2021 will be kinder to us all.

Above are some of my favourite photos from the allotment. Thank you for reading my blog and following my allotment journey, and for taking the time to comment and like my posts.

Happy New Year everyone xx

Christmas 2020

The year of the pandemic, 2020 has been extraordinary and devastating to many. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson made an announcement on the 19th December that changed Christmas plans for millions, yet again infection numbers are on the rise but this time due to a new strain of the virus. Oh dear. From the 20th December Bedfordshire moves into Tier 4 along with London, the South East and East of England regions. Basically we’re in lockdown again.

My allotment has been a real tonic to me this year and yet again it will be a safe place to temporarily forget the madness if I feel the urge, even if I don’t actually do any gardening just being there is enough.

The all important allotment kettle for those chilly days and evenings on the plot. Anyone for tea?

As for my Christmas, well it will obviously be small and quiet which is ok but I will miss seeing family. I’ve been good this year so hopefully Santa will leave a gardening book under the tree for me (and a new pair of wellies please if you’re reading this, Santa!). I will use some of my free time to check through my seed stash and order anything I may need, and probably things I don’t.

Whatever tier you happen to be in, stay safe and enjoy Christmas as best you can x

Wonky Carrots

Whenever I pull wonky carrots from the ground I can’t help but smile at the weird and wacky shapes, sometimes a childish giggle escapes from me if I find one to be somewhat risque.

Carrots from the same harvest. The wonky carrots to the left may look funny but taste just as lovely!

I entered a wonky carrot into the oddest vegetable class at my village show last year and it won the class, second place was awarded to my dad for his rude carrot. There were vegetables of all shapes and sizes and all received plenty of smirks from those who came to view the show entries, but my dads rather rude carrot raised the most eyebrows. For that reason I think he should have won.

Let’s not forget this C-shaped carrot I grew last year, possibly the wonkiest yet!

You may have noticed from the above photos a yellow carrot that looks almost like a parsnip, I usually grow ‘Autumn King’ which is a favourite of mine to grow and most definitely orange. Occasionally I pull a yellow carrot within the mix and I’m intrigued to know why this happens, perhaps a rogue yellow carrot seed in the mix or cross pollination? Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.

Next year I plan to grow other carrot varieties, do you have a favourite carrot to grow?