The seed catalogue arrived in the post today. Yay!

There’s actually not much I need this year, as I have enough seeds left over from last year for all the brassicas and most of the beans. But things I want include:

  • Borlotto firetongue French beans. Red and yellow striped beans, how cool is that? (We grew purple beans last year and they were incredibly tasty, so I have high hopes for these.)
  • Cape gooseberries. Because our greenhouse didn’t do so well at chillis and peppers. (But we’re going to try them again anyway. A friend sent us some of her chilli seeds in her Christmas card.)
  • Winter cabbage. Because peeling frozen, melted and begun to rot outer leaves off a summer cabbage you left till December is not such fun. (The cabbage inside was perfectly edible still, though.)
  • Garlic. Because it’s so easy.
  • Peas. Because we’ve run out. (Haven’t decided what variety yet; last year they got quite mildewy so I’ll see if I can find one that’s resistant and still tasty.)
  • Aubergines. Further greenhouse experimentation. (We didn’t have a greenhouse before we moved here last year and we’re still figuring out what to do with it.)

Things that I already have and plan to grow again include:

  • Courgettes. The variety ‘One Ball’ is small, round and yellow and very tender and tasty. If you forget to pick them for a few days they become large, round and yellow and can then be stuffed like a small pumpkin. Lovely.
  • Asparagus. I planted these last year and we should get our first shoots in the spring.
  • Potatoes. Two years ago we ordered some plants of the variety ‘Salad Blue’ – it’s a rare variety that isn’t registered as blight-free so you can’t buy the potatoes. They arrived very late and we had a very small crop and kept them all for seed. Last year we planted those potatoes and got a reasonable crop. They’re purple on the outside and blue on the inside, and really tasty whatever we did to them, but I think they’re best of all microwaved. Again, we kept some for seed and will plant them this year in a bigger bucket for (hopefully) lots more potatoes.
  • Peppers and chillis. See above.
  • Tomatoes. We had lots of lovely tomatoes but because we were late sowing them (because we couldn’t order the seeds before we moved) most of them never ripened before the summer ended. So we have several large jars of green tomato chutney according to a recipe supplied by our next-door neighbour. This year I plan to sow earlier and get more of them to ripen; the few that did last year were absolutely delicious.
  • Runner beans and purple French beans. Very productive and very tasty. This year we’ll freeze some rather than trying and failing to eat them all fresh.
  • Parsnips. I’ve never succeeded in these yet, but when we moved in last year there were some in the ground left by the previous owner. We were eating them for a month and they were fantastic.
  • Soft fruit. I ordered ten strawberry plants from the catalogue last year that were said to be especially good. And they were. I let the plants runner and potted up all the babies, so now we have about fifty of them. Should be good! I’ve also planted raspberry canes, a blueberry bush and two gooseberry bushes.
  • Brassicas. Everything except kale. They’re dead easy if you can keep off all the other things that want to eat them (like pigeons and caterpillars and slugs). Cabbages, sprouts (did I mention we fed 13 people two meals off the sprouts out of our garden at Christmas?), cauliflower, and most especially, purple sprouting broccoli, which practically grows by itself but costs a fortune in the supermarket.

And in the Dream On category of things I can’t afford/don’t have space for, we have fruit trees such as peaches (which will grow in a greenhouse!), plums and apples, as well as grape vines (again, they will grow up here if you choose the right variety). Also sweetcorn (probably won’t grow up here though).

In conclusion, I’ve never yet found a vegetable that tastes better from the supermarket than from your garden. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s cheaper (for things like cabbages it’s almost certainly not after you add in things like anti-pigeon nets and manure pellets and anti-slug stuff – I use nematodes so I don’t poison anything else, but it is more expensive) but it’s hugely tastier and I know exactly what went in it. And unlike flowers, with which I have had no success at all in the past, veg seem to like me and perform well for me. So although I probably won’t have much time this year, I still intend to grow (and eat) lots of veg.

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