Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Stolen from the Lost Gardens of Heligan

I have a confession to make!

2 years ago I made a trip down to Cornwall to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The most amazing walled kitchen garden, a veggie growers paradise! Every variety was historically accurate to the Victorian period. A quick peek at their compost heap is, of course, a mecca for any serious gardener. Right on top of the compost heap, were a stack of discarded French bean plants, it was early October and the garden was being cleared. Still attached to these plants were a few dried up seed pods.... too much temptation. A quick glance to the left and to the right, then I took my chance. One bean pod containing 6 beans of the variety "Royalty". This is a stunning dark red or purple variety. I grew them last year, sadly only one survived - it was nursed to rude health, and this year, I have a good dozen from my own seed.

Broad beans are very late this year, a variety "Aquadulce" . A problem this year, as I had planned to use the ground afterwards for my squashes. This brings me on to the subject of companion planting (I'm getting the hang of this blog thing....)

Companion planting. Three different plants which can be grown in close proximity, and not compete with each other because they have separate needs and or growing habits, or they compliment each other. For example. Squashes, Sweet Corn , and Runner Beans can be planted in the same hole. The native Americans used to call them "The Three Sisters". The squash runs along the ground and provides ground cover. The Sweet corn grows straight up into the air on a stout stick, and the runner bean climbs up the sweet corn. Everybody happy!

Another venture of companion planting I am trying this year, is to plant sweet peppers (capsicum) in between rows of potato. The peppers need a bit of extra protection from the wind, provided by the potato rows.

I always grow a first early potato called "Epicure" - I always have. They are hard to come by these days, probably a heritage variety. They have the best flavour you could imagine. I have one early plant which I forced in the greenhouse in a black sack... in a couple of days I will have my first new potatoes cooked with fresh garden mint. Surely one of the highlights of any gardeners' year.

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