Gardening to 'grow your own food' from square foot to half an acre !!
4 posts • Page 1 of 1
Can anyone suggest hardy varieties of veg, please? I'm especially thinking courgettes, beans and peas, but all experiences and ideas gratefully received.
We live at about 325m (1100ft ish) and on a clay soil that can get pretty wet.
Some varieties of broad beans can be planted in autumn to stand over winter and get an early start in the spring and beat the whitefly. Not sure if it's whiteskinned that taste best and green skinned that are hardier or v.v. I didn't much like them as they get bitter once the beans are big (fine when tiny), but someone suggested taking the skins off - possible but fiddly. Jim was very fond of them.
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sorry if you have mentioned this before but whereabouts? North, south, west, east, near coastline, inland .... exposed, sheltered, normally wet or dry in summer? Even tender plants can grow in places where you might not expect providing they are get full sun and shelter from winds. Don't forget frosts - late frosts in spring and early in autumn will shorten a growing season which is more likely to determine what you can grow which I suspect the higher altitude may play a part, but coastal regions tend to have less frost.
The hardiest veg crop in the UK which are also best suited to clay soil are the brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, swede, radish, kale) which should do very well even at over 300m. Beetroot and chard, greens like lettuce and hardy herbs like thyme and sage, also beans (runner and broad beans)
But clay soil is not really a problem for growing most veg to be honest and although it can be hard work, you can improve drainage by creating mini raised beds and adding more compost/sand (my allotment plot was heavy clay at the bottom of the hill so actually got saturated in winter/unusually wet spring/summer but the plank high raised beds made a big difference and I was able to grow just about anything including potatoes) Most importantly with clay soil, don't walk on it where you plant the crops as you compress it and squeeze out the air and water which makes it worse.
If you want to grow say carrots, try container gardening with lots of compost/sand added or grow short rooted / stumpy varieties like Chantennay, Nantes or Early Market (rather than long slender type that are more likely to fork in heavy soil) If you want to grow say garlic or onions, then grow in mini raised beds with extra sand/compost for better drainage (and the bulb doesn't sit directly on the clay soil) These are all hardy veg.
If you can grow courgettes, you can grow outdoor cucumber like good old Marketmore - they just need protection from frosts and strong wind. And winter squash - grow an early maturing variety for better success (I suspect the higher altitude means late and early frosts which will definitely shorten a winter squash growing season) Earlies tend to be smaller sized fruits (try Uchiki kuri - one of my fave winter squashes for hardiness, good cropping, flavour, cooking & stores well) rather than giant pumpkin type. The trick is not to sow the seeds too early (generally I aim for 3rd week in April up to the 1st week in May, preferably timed to a warm sunny spell of weather to drive the germination quickly so the seeds don't sit in cold damp compost) and indoors to keep them warm and on a sunny windowsill/conservatory/greenhouse for maximum sunlight. Avoid planting out too early - May can be notorious for glorious weather then a frost hits by the 3rd week so end of May/early June would be best. Provide mini shelters (like a screen round such as polythene stapled to some posts) to create a warmer micro-environment. I suspect you could grow sweetcorn too but they do need warmth and can be slow to ripen in a cool summer.
Thank you for your replies, ladies. LL - wow! - as ever, a bumper crop of information. Thank you so much.
I had thought cold, wet clay not ideal for root crops such as swedes, but will give it a go. Yes frosts are a big problem and have ruined several flowers/shrubs, but I think I need to put more wrk into the soil and drainage, which may open up some options. Also experimenting with raised beds, cold frames, cloches and the like to try to extend the season.
some great ideas to try, Thank you.
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