Year one was bound to be a steep learning curve but thankfully, saving my fragile ego from taking a grow your own bashing, we actually managed to grow some decent stuff. Maybe it was beginner’s luck, a particularly forgiving growing season, who knows. Here’s a look back at what was attempted and the hits and misses of 2020.
In the first year we planted
- Potatoes: 2 types – Charlotte and Mayan Rose
- Globe Artichoke
- Baby Gem Lettuce
- Petit Pois
- French runner beans
- Dwarf French runner beans
- Italian Borlotti beans
- Scotch bonnet chillies
- Jalapeno chillies
- Raspberry canes (these were already growing so we tidied them up a bit)
- Pumpkins: 3 types – Polar Bear, Jill Be Little and Harvest Moon
Potatoes – HIT
I planted two varieties of potato; Charlotte – a lovely, fluffy, white potato that we mashed, roasted, boiled and even had as part of our Christmas dinner and a funky little pink, mottled type called Mayan Rose – a cross between Mayan Twilight and Mayan Gold. The choices were not deliberate, they were pretty much all that was left when I was trying to order seed potatoes in May but they were absolutely a HIT. My Grandad, an Irishman, always grew potatoes – loads of them – so I was very happy that they were a success in the first year.
Carrots – MISS
Wonky veg doesn’t even begin to describe what I pulled up. Irregular watering, stones in the earth… I’ve been offered a few reasons why my carrots ended up looking like this (image right), Roast Chicken Carrot anyone? Who knows what caused it but they tasted good and I haven’t been put off trying again. A tip that’s since been passed my way is to grow the seedlings in loo roll tubes – these can be planted directly into the ground and apparently keep the veg straight whilst breaking down in the soil so I may well give that a go.
Courgette – HIT
Courgettes are one of those things that are often cited as being great for beginners and in our case that was definitely true. Some might say, that even with a banging Courgetti Martini recipe up my sleeve we may have ended up with a few too many. The four plants were prolific all summer and it’s true, after an evening of rain, we ended up with more than a couple of marrows. But that being said, nothing dampens the shear joy and excitement of picking that first young courgette PLUS finally having a supply of courgette flowers to rustle up one of my favourite Italian eats Fiore di Zucchini con Ricota e limone – Courgette flowers stuffed with Ricotta cheese and lemon (I’ll share the recipe for that soon).
Brussel Sprouts – MISS
I didn’t net the sprouts. Plus, after reading that the plants need about 80cm gap between them, I panicked and planted them sporadically, and singularly in different beds. The result was that I forgot where I had planted them and any that did survive a weeding session were mauled by pigeons. So this year, I’ll be having a dedicated Brassica* bed, complete with a netted cage.
* no idea what a Brassica is? I didn’t either, but take a look a 12 words I learnt in 2020 and it’ll all become clear.