The arrival of the New Year inevitably starts you thinking about next summer’s vegetable crop and what to grow. This will of course be influenced by how much space you have available to grow food in and how keen a vegetable gardener you are. The vast majority of us only have so much space available, so compromises have as always have to be made.
For some people vegetable growing is a hobby; but for an increasing number of us it’s a way of using a bit of our garden to supplement our supply of food for the kitchen. With this in mind, how are we going to gain the most benefit with the time and space available? The competing demands of work, children and family life are going to limit how much time we can realistically expect to spend on growing vegetables.
The next problem is where in the garden are you going to use and how much space can we spare. Everyone who uses the garden will have their own demands on the space available, growing flowers, playing football, sunbathing, eating out and so on. Whichever space is chosen it will have fit in with these competing demands and so its fair to say you are not going to be self sufficient in vegetables. So what are we going to chose to grow?
The first step must thinking what do we actually use in our cooking, lettuce may be easy to grow, but if no one in the house actually likes lettuce there is no point in wasting time growing it! The next step is what is practical, you may love asparagus but if you are going to move in a few years you will be gone by the time it starts cropping. Likewise if you are on stony, gravelly soil you are going to struggle to grow decent root crops such as carrots.
This should leave you with a list of possibilities. Now look down the list. What are you going to gain the most benefit from growing? In many cases just as good can be bought from the supermarket. Potatoes take a lot of space so are very unlikely to have the space to grow more than a fraction of your needs. If on the other hand you like green tomato chutney you are going to have to grow them yourself. Tomatoes are a good case in point, commercially grown tomatoes have the advantage that they are available all year round and they will only produce a small crop if grown outdoors in the UK, but the sad fact is the flavour of the varieties grown commercially is very poor.
By a process of elimination you will whittle your list down until you are left with what you can grow and will get some real benefit from. The collection you end up with may seem an eclectic mix, and in coming years you will adjust the range grown, but you should end up gaining some real value from a small corner of your garden.