It's that time of year, the festive season is over and thoughts turn to the year ahead and what to grow... the same as last year?... or shall we try out some new varieties? Here are some of the things we consider when picking what seeds we will be sowing and growing this year:
Unless you're lucky enough to have an allotment or a garden large enough for space to grow, you may need to consider specific varieties that aren't too vigorous that they overwhelm the space, or pot if you are container growing. Look out for varieties specifically named 'patio varieties' as they tend to be more compact and bushy and most, if not all vegetables have such a variety. Our Speedy Dwarf Bean and Tomato Koralik perform especially well in containers as do our dwarf Sunflower Waooh! seeds.
What do you like?
It's worth thinking about what vegetables and herbs you enjoy cooking and eating, these will bring the most joy when it comes to harvest time when you can put them to good use in the kitchen. It's still worth experimenting with varieties you don't normally grow, but if space is a premium prioritise something you will enjoy. Likewise with our flower varieties, grow something you will enjoy seeing growing or picked in a vase to enjoy inside.
Get to know where you are going to grow. Sun, wind, which way the plot faces, high / low ground all these things make a difference to your crop. If you have a lovely southerly aspect which enjoys hours of sunshine, consider what plants thrive in higher temperatures e.g. chillis and tomatoes and avoid those that can wilt away in the heat e.g. lettuce and vice versa if you have a cooler plot.
Also important to consider is your soil type especially if you aren't growing in containers where you can control this easier. Is the soil acidic, neutral or alkali; structure wise establish if you have a heavy clay soil or a light sandy soil which will impact water retention and nutrient levels. Getting to know your neighbours can also help here as the chances are they have a similar soil to you and may be able to save you time figuring out what performs best. Remember to refer to the growing instructions section of our seed descriptions to help guide you with what growing conditions each variety performs best in.
This is less important for container growing where you can refresh the soil easier and clean out containers to eliminate any pests / diseases but useful to consider if you are reusing compost in pots. If you are growing directly in the ground consider using a crop rotation system based around grouping together crops from the same family which have similar needs. The main groups to rotate include brassicas, peas & beans, potatoes and the onion family. Vegetables and salad crops are less critical to rotate so can slot in amongst a rotation plan.
Hopefully the above helps you get planning what to sow and grow this year. Let us know in the comments below any tips you have on how you have decided what to grow this year.