Grow Your Own guest Blog from Mike Thurlow

Hi BigBarn gardening friends, Mike Thurlow here,

We may have met if you have ever been to the restored Historic Vegetable Garden at Audley End. For 17 years this garden was my home and my passion.

My good friend and BigBarn fan, Leo from Taste-Italia has asked if I would write a regular coloumn on vegetable and fruit growing. so here goes:

What else is there left to say about 2012 other than “Goodbye and good riddance!”

What a year it was with all of the weather records going from droughts to floods being broken, including and a one day heat wave in the Spring.

The Great potato blight crisis forced the growers to leave crops unharvested in soggy, boggy fields pushing up the prices of fruit and vegetables and demonstrating to us just how dependant on imported fruit and vegetables this Country has become.

No such problems though if you choose to grow your own fruit and veggies. A plot measuring no more than 4 square metres can keep you supplied all summer long with fresh produce.

It’s a question of growing your favourite gourmet crops that aren’t available in the shops or the ones that are well overpriced.

January is the perfect month to plan your plot. First stop make a list of the vegetables that you really like.

There are things like the leafy crops that will taste entirely different when taken straight from the garden to the kitchen and lettuce is a classic example. Beetroot, French beans, carrots, tomatoes and spinach will crop over several months and the taste and quality is something that money can’t buy. Garlic, shallots and onions can be used immediately or will store for months.

I have been looking at the Franchi- Seeds of Italy catalogue and they have a range of ‘Easy to Grow’ reliable vegetables that is well worth taking a look at. I have put together a Top-Ten selection taken from their catalogue that I hope will help you to give the supermarkets a miss this summer.

All of the selection I have made I have experience of growing and have been included to make the maximum cropping yields.

You can of course make your own choices to satisfy your own particular taste.

Beetroot – early ‘Bikores’, maincrop ‘Chioggia’

Carrots – ‘Nantes Chioggia 2’, ‘Chanteney’, ‘Juane de Doubs’, ‘Round Parisier Market 4’

Courgettes – straight: green ‘Nero di Milano’, yellow ‘Goldrush’, round ‘Tondo di Piacenza’

Chicory – ‘Cut & come again mixed selection’, ‘Pan di Zuccherro’, ‘Bianca’, ‘Witloof’

Lettuce – early ‘Misticanza primavera’, late ‘Misticanza Autumn / Winter’, Crunchy Salad’

Onion – white red ‘Red of Savona’ aka ‘Sagonese’

Radicchio – mid ‘Orchidea Rossa’ late ‘Rossa di Treviso Tardia’, ‘Grumolo Rossa’

Swiss chard – ‘Costa Verde’

Spinach – Summer selection ‘Merlo Nero’ winter selection ‘Gigante di Inverno’

Tomato outdoors – bush type ‘San Marzarno Scipio’, cordon ‘Marglobe’, ‘Roma VF’

If you have a greenhouse

Aubergine – ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Prospero’, ‘Ibrido’, Tondo Bianca’

Cucumber – ‘Marketmore’, ‘Viridis Early Hybrid’ unusual & fun ‘Cucumber di Manduria’

Pepper – ‘Mixed Bell Peppers’, Giallo d’Asti’, goats horn ‘Corno Rosso’, ‘Corno Giallo’

Tomato – cordon ‘Caliendo’, ‘Golden Boy’, Pomona’ Costoluto Fiorentina

We will cover the perennial and longer growing crops next time.

In the meanwhile get planning, any questions please contact me

Mike Thurlow on 07980161238 or email me and a happy and successful growing year to you.

Michael Thurlow (gardener)

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