Friday, November 6, 2015

First step to successful gardening - planning

If you have ever watched anything in which Monty Don gives advice on gardening you would have heard him say planning is the key to success. His garden is tidy, ordered and high producing so I am going to believe him on the planning.
We are not moving in until November (late spring here in the Southern Hemisphere). There is a lot of work to be on the site to get it back under control and the house needs work so I am trying to not get too excited in the garden.
First I made a list of the vegetables we usually eat. In the past with a small garden, I have tended to try different types of produce from what we can get in the supermarket or vegetable shope but this has meant we might not be confident using it and it can go to waste or to seed because we leave it in the garden for too long, while we work what to cook with it.
Once I had my list of vegetables we usually eat, I found a number of sites that tell you how many plants you need to grow per person for a year's supply. I found a brilliant wee calculator but of course I cannot locate it now. I will update this page if I come across it again otherwise these two links give you suggested numbers.
My list as a starting base for family of four for a year:
Asparagus 24 plants
Beans 60 plants
Broccoli 40 plants
Cabbage 40 plants
Carrots 40 plants
Cauliflower 20 plants
Celery 8 plants
Corn 160 plants
Cucumbers 12 plants
Eggplant 4 plants
Lettuce 40 plants
Onions 320 plants
Potatoes 120 plants
Pumpkin 4 plants
Rhubarb 8 plants
Tomatoes 20 plants
Peas 480 plants
Zucchini 4 plants

I have always had good success growing vegetables with King Seeds so I took my list and found out what can be planted in November. This narrowed the list quite substantially. I ordered tomatoes - Brandywine blend and mortgage lifter. Brandywine tomatoes are supposed to be the best tasting in the world. You can read about my last attempts to grow them here. These ones are a blend so I am hoping for more success - will keep you posted.
I also bought capsicums, Blue Lake runner beans, top crop dwarf beans, Florida supersweet corn, crystal apple cucumber (based on success with these last growing season), shallots, Australian butter pumpkin, tall climbing peas, zephyr zucchini, crookneck early summer squash (mostly for the amusing name and because I was onto my free packet of seeds by this stage of the order) and touchon carrots.
King Seeds have great information for each seed type on their website but it is not on each packet. In the past I have been more relaxed and just planted based on my memories of what I had read. This time with Monty Don screaming, "Plan!" I like to try to imagine him doing so because he never seems bothered and is always calm.
Once the packets arrived I looked them all up again and wrote on each packet; total number of seeds, distance between seeds for planting, if I need to stake them, how many I need to plant based on my yearly use calculations. Then I split them into two groups, the ones that needed to be sown in trays now and the ones that I can sow directly once we move.
Peas appear an interesting one. The information suggests either plant them in early spring or late summer. I assume this means they are not keen on high heat, which might explain why mine have died off in other years. So I might plant them in late summer and see what happens.
Shallots also seem to divide the gardening world about whether to pre plant. Monty recommends pre planting but from other reading it seems this just makes them not take so long to reach harvest. I am planning to sow directly and wait for ages until they are ready.
Excel spreadsheets a popular choice on gardening blog sites so I have made my spreadsheet with all the details.
The plant list for pre planting now and direct sowing later in November is:
Pumpkins 4 plants
Brandywine tomatoes 20 plants
Mortgage lifter tomatoes 20 plants
Beans 60 plants of each
Cucumber 18 plants
Capsicum 20 plants
Zucchini 6 plants
Crookneck squash 6 plants
Corn 100 plants
Carrots 1000 plants
Peas 100 plants
Shallots 100 plants
Capsicums 20 plants

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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.