I’ve now dragged my garden through the best part of two summer growing seasons and I’ve tried a whole bunch of different crops. My method for choosing what to grow wasn’t very complex – ‘oh, those look cool, I’ll try them!’ – with the one caveat that I didn’t try to grow anything destined to fail in eastern Scotland (except, perhaps, sweetcorn, but that’s a year-to-year thing). I’ve now learned that there are a few things that probably aren’t worth the space or effort and a few varieties which grow better for me than others. There are, of course, a few border cases but I’ve drawn up a provisional list of what’s in and what’s not for next year so I can begin to work on a layout / plan for next year’s gardening adventure.
Not Even Bothering*
- Coriander (of the type I have, at least)
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- ‘Mixed Salad’
I’ve not had any luck with onions any time I’ve grown them – no matter when I start them off they never get to be much bigger than ping-pong balls and they take up a fair bit of room in my small garden as well as being relatively cheap to buy anyway. Tomatoes are just too much to worry about and I’m worried about them attracting bugs which will infect my potatoes. The shops are starting to sell some really nice tomatoes, so it’s not as big a loss as it might otherwise have been. Sprouts take up a lot of room for a small crop. I’m dithering, though, as fresh sprouts are lovely, but also rather cheap to buy. Chillis (except my small venezuelan ones) have never worked for me. They either fail to thrive (indoors) or die (outdoors) so after years of trying I’m not going to bother next year. Coriander grows well, but the variety I’ve got is a seed type and I really want one which emphasizes leaves. PSB I adore but… it also takes up a lot of room in the garden. I might allow myself one plant in a corner, as it is a favourite.
(*probably, I am a sucker for banging my head off of a brick wall, sometimes ;P)
- Beans (pole, bush, & broad)
- Root Parsley
All of the above I grew but could have done better at. I don’t know that the problem is with my beans – everyone else seems to have no trouble with them but they don’t tend to grow that well for me… Perhaps a different support structure or more/less time indoors (I’d love to try direct planting but I’ve never had any germinate that way!). The root parsley, (second batch) turnips and squash were mainly victims of going into the ground too late.
- Mustard Greens
- Pak Choi
- Spring Onions
These are all things which have grown well for me each time I’ve grown them. Even with the troubles I had at times with the potatoes, they’re still something I wouldn’t be without. Whilst you can get cheap potatoes from the supermarket, Andy and I can never eat a whole bag to ourselves before they go off and so growing our own, where we can harvest a few at a time, works well. There’s also a stunning variety of potatoes we can grow at home which just aren’t available at the supermarket – as we found out at the Dundee Flower & Food Festival!