Garden Planning 2016

I love this time of year! When it’s cold, dark and everyone’s a little bit miserable, it’s a great time to snuggle up in front of the fire on a dark night and start planning the year ahead in the vegetable garden! I’m making this sound very poetic aren’t I!

I always create a list of the vegetables I want to grow and do a rough guide of where I’m planting each one by using the app, but I have to be honest I never stick 100% to my plan. I vow that I’ll grow everything from seed but then end up also buying plants from the garden centre; and of course every year, some things I’ve attempted just don’t come off!

I create my wishlist of vegetables first, then plot where to plant them. The app is really helpful with this as if you use the same plan year on year, it’ll highlight in red where you’ve situated a particular crop previously so you can avoid planting in the same bed in consecutive years.

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When I’m deciding what to grow, I start by listing the vegetables that we eat most frequently, or that will be most useful to us (and our family and friends!) Then I consider what else I want to achieve from the growing season, usually it’s to try something different or unusual or hard to grow, but this year I’m going for productivity over ambition!

We’ve got a new little mouth to feed and I want to make sure Henry eats as many fruits and vegetables from the garden as we can possibly grow, so sucessional sowing is the key this year! I need a constant supply of staples such as carrots, tomatoes, beans and courgettes, as well as introducing different tastes to him throughout the season!

Finally, a #teething aid that’s actually effective! #carrot #weaning #blw

A photo posted by Helen Lee (@pickleshlee) on Jan 13, 2016 at 12:26pm PST


Here’s my list for this year:

  • carrots
  • courgettes
  • runner beans
  • french beans
  • potatoes
  • cauliflower
  • sprouting broccoli
  • sprouts
  • lettuce
  • radish
  • kohl rabi
  • pumpkins
  • parsnips
  • tomatoes
  • chillies
  • spinach
  • leeks

I’m not going completely ‘straight’ when it comes to plant varieties this year, there’ll definitely be some purple carrots thrown into the mix and my one experiment is going to be with ‘flower sprouts‘ which we’ve had from the supermarket a few times and they’re very tasty! I’m also going to make an effort to grow from seed as much as possible, rather than buying plug plants.

Here’s my planting plan for 2016:

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The other thing I love about the Growveg app is the fact that you get a ‘cheat sheet’ (my terminology not theirs!) giving you rough planting and harvesting times! Of course you need to refer to the specific growing instructions for whatever varieties you’re planting, but it’s a handy place to start!

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Building the Greenhouse

Once we’d finalised the layout of the vegetable garden, our first challenge was to get the main feature installed: the greenhouse.

We had set our hearts on a brick based, wooden framed greenhouse but unfortunately our budget wasn’t as ambitious as our dreams, but we were determined to find something that was eye-catching and not just a basic shape and frame.

We dropped on this design at our local Dobbies garden centre, and decided to construct it ourselves; how hard could it be, right?

Once we’d established where it was to be situated, we dug out the foundations on a very cold February day!

Camera Photos 1078During this time, renovation was ongoing on the inside of the house too, and our helpful builder (who also happens to be our brother-in-law) put down a concrete base for us to start from.

Camera Photos 1085We enlisted my Dad to help construct the framework, but the day that we chose just happened to be the coldest, windiest, winter’s day we’d encountered for a long time! Teamed with the fact that the assembly instructions were challenging to say the least, progress on building the greenhouse was much slower than we expected; in fact what should have taken a day took us well over a week to complete!

Dad making a start on the framework
Dad making a start on the framework

Camera Photos 1089Camera Photos 1100My mum and her husband were drafted in for extra help to finish the frame and add the glazing.

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We escaped inside to build some of the sections!
We escaped inside to build some of the sections!
Richard 'topping out' the frame!
Richard ‘topping out’ the frame!
Adding the glass and perspex panels
Adding the glass and perspex panels
Nearly finished!
Nearly finished!
In pride of place!
In pride of place!

I’m pleased to say that, a year later, the greenhouse is standing strong so although it might have been easier to have paid for the construction, we saved ourselves money and learned a few new skills by erecting it ourselves!