KNOW YOUR PLOT
Kitchen Garden|August 2021
Understanding your vegetable garden takes time but is the key to success, as professional gardener and keen organic veg grower Nicola Hope explains
Nicola Hop

Getting to know a garden is a long process and a luxury. I have had the luxury of working in an organically managed walled vegetable garden in the Cotswolds for the last 12 years and I feel like I have finally got to grips with what works and what does not.

Salad crops, beans, and peas, for instance, work beautifully. Root vegetables do not. Over the years I have added ton after ton of well-rotted manure, homemade compost, and leaf mould but the Cotswold brash soil keeps throwing up stones. A few years ago I would spend hours on my hands and knees picking individual stones out of each bed. These days I spend my precious time matching the right crop to the right conditions.

The vegetable garden was newly constructed when I arrived to take charge in November 2009. The adjoining glasshouse and potting shed were a figment of the owners’ imagination. The owners had great plans of self-sufficiency and spending lots of time out there themselves. In reality, their busy lives meant that the garden quickly became my opportunity to experiment.

CAGED CARROTS

Root vegetables grown in stony soil are peculiar looking beasts so I worked out fairly early on to grow those in the fruit cage. The imported topsoil in the fruit cage is the very best, stone-free soil on the whole estate and the carrots and parsnips grown alongside raspberries and redcurrants are generally magnificent. We do not seem to get bothered by carrot flies either. Maybe it is the fruity companion planting that foils the pests or maybe it is the fine wire mesh enclosing the cage keeping them at bay. Either way, I am not complaining! I use a wheat straw mulch to suppress weeds and keep slug and snail damage to a minimum and the resulting roots are very pleasing indeed.

MICROCLIMATES AND MOISTURE

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM KITCHEN GARDENView All

PEAS PLEASE ME

Growing peas is a must for Rob Smith. Here’s his introduction to growing them, with top tips and some varieties you might like to try

7 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Boost your BUGS

Gardens that are alive with bugs – whether beetles or bees – are healthy, beautiful places to be. They’re also more productive. Benedict Vanheems shares some simple tips to give bugs a boost this autumn and beyond

8 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

FAMILY FYFE

Milly Fyfe lives on a farm in Northamptonshire with her two sons, Angus and Dougie, and husband Andrew. As well as tending to 100 suckler beef cows, 300 breeding ewes, 350ha of land for arable production plus chickens and pigs, the family also maintain a walled garden where they grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.

5 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

JUST ASK PIPPA!

After training as a botanist and gaining her MSc in Crop Protection, Pippa Greenwood spent 11 years in charge of the RHS Wisley plant pathology department. She is the author of countless best-selling books and is a long-standing voice on BBC 4 Gardeners’ Question Time. Here she talks with Daniel Heighes

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Turn Up The Heat For Melons

Nothing shouts summer like a home-grown melon, yet they can be a challenge to grow in the UK climate. All the more reason to have a go, says KG editor, Steve Ott

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Go Go Go october

It might not be the height of the growing season but Stephanie Hafferty is still very busy with garlic, green manures, mulching and making a new compost heap using pallets

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

POWER OF THE Pumpkin

Pumpkins are soon ready to harvest and with October 26 being National Pumpkin Day, Annabelle Padwick decided to focus on this autumnal beauty

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

Flavourful Fruit For Creative Cooks

Much of fruit growing centres around the premise of eating the fruit fresh from the tree, but this month KG’s fruit expert David Patch turns his attention to fantastic flavours for the kitchen

5 mins read
Kitchen Garden
October 2021

OUR PLOTTEER OF THE MONTH

Last year we officially launched a competition to find 12 readers and their plots that would feature in Kitchen Garden magazine this year. Here we feature another of our talented winners

4 mins read
Kitchen Garden
September 2021

THE PILGRIM PLOTTERS

Martin Fish visits Boston in Lincolnshire, with its historic links to the Pilgrim Fathers, and finds a thriving community of growers with a concern for health and well-being at its core

6 mins read
Kitchen Garden
September 2021