growing pains…

House moves aside, the next month is crucial to a vegetable grower and we need to get some seeds into some inside dirt really quickly. But how should we decide what to grow this year?

Last year, we grew the following, with varied success:

  • Carrots – we kind of forgot about them
  • Tomatoes – the established plants we bought thrived, but the tomatoes had tough thick skins, the grown from seed plants went nowhere
  • Cucumbers – grew lots but never very big
  • Peppers – these were a success, but didn’t grow very big and had the same tough skin
  • Aubergine – grew lots but they were all small
  • Green beans – we grew the kind with hairy thick pods and I don’t like them!
  • Melons and watermelons – grew but went nowhere

We had little success and lots of failures, but we ate a lot of small tomatoes, aubergines,  cucumbers and green peppers last year. When I backpacked around Australia, I did a lot of fruit and vegetable picking. And I can tell you that the massive green peppers they had there were grown in poly tunnels. My grandfather had a huge tunnel greenhouse on the farm in which he grew amazing tomatoes.

Thinking of it now, I guess these were hothouse tomatoes. It puts me in mind that when we do plant outside, we may wish to seriously consider some kind of poly shelter for the veg that require lots of retained moisture and heat. Because last year, one of our big problems too was that the ground was so wet, the veg started rotting almost as soon as it grew, at least where it was standing in water.

But the key thing right now, is what to plant. These little plants and seedlings will be inside with us for at least the next couple of months (especially considering how cold the winter has been to date). Luckily, in the house we’re in, we have lots of windows and light and it’s a bit of a sun trap so that should get things growing well, at least to start with.

When Handsome asked what’s wanted him to grow this year, I asked him to consider the vegetables that I cook the most. So, the first answer is potatoes, naturally (they do have their own section in the recipes section), but then during the summer months, we eat a lot of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli. Actually, we eat a lot of fresh vegetables now I come to think of it, so maybe the determining factor should be high yield and easy growth.

We eat a lot of corn for example, but I don’t want him to grow corn. And melon didn’t work, but I love the idea of growing fruit. Hopefully our next house will have fruit trees. The trouble is, I don’t eat much of it and fruit usually requires a hot climate, unless you’re talking about berries, which I’m not…

Maybe we should focus on vegetables that keep well, like cabbages. I suppose I do use a lot of cabbage in the summer for coleslaw. And I have just remembered the humble onion! That is used in almost every meal, of course.

So, we want… Potatoes, onions, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, tomato and peppers. And I will ask him to do the aubergines again, they really are so delicious when marinated and griddled, served cold. And I will try to find out about growing mushrooms. I think they have to be done in the dark, so this is the country to grow them in, there’s a basement in every house.

And I have a secret food crush on Brussels sprouts that I think I will ask him to capitalize on this year too. Cripes! We had better find a house with a big garden…

Last year's crop...
Last year’s crop…

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