Tag Archives: brassicas

Phase 2 -the main vegetable patch

As the weather has changed we turned to phase 2: the actual planting stage. From mid-April to the end of May there are 6 weeks when I could measure plot space, sow the seeds, repot plants and place them into their final position.

Growing system

This year I try the crop rotation system I read about in a book by Dick & James Strawbridge: Practical Self Sufficiency. I mean, I learnt about crop rotation in school, but it was something which belonged to the past, to medieval times, ancient Egypt or what not. I have never seen it in practice. The crops are divided into 6 groups which follow a four-year rotation. The groups are the following:

  • Alliums
  • Umbellifers
  • Legumes
  • Brassicas
  • Miscellaneous
  • Salads

Alliums and umbellifers share an area, while the salads can fit in anywhere.

Measuring of the patch

The main vegetable patch is 7 metres wide and 16 metres long. Along the two pathways I won’t use around a foot wide strip on both sides, as probably that’s where I will collect throw the pebbles. This gives an area of around 100 square metres (or around 120 square yards). For each section, I will have a 7 metres wide by 4 metres long area to plant.

crop rotation 2018

crop rotation 2018

The idea is that whatever seeds we have, just throw into the relevant area and see what happens. They might grow. Or not. Either way, we will learn a lot about the soil.

Alliums and Umbellifers

Also to avoid injury in the first year, we decided, we only dig up the first section of the main vegetable patch, where all the root vegetables will be. They will be planted fairly close so I cannot measure and mark the area and dig only in the space where the seeds/bulbs would go. The rest of the crop group grows above ground so I could loosen up the soil with a hand trowel when I plant the crop. We don’t know what had happened in previous years on our plot, what kind of vegetables grew, so double digging a section a year seems a fair share. (Double digging I mean to dig two shovels deep and turn the soil over and break it up a bit.)

We dug the trenches for the potatoes and put them a foot deep. They are on the south side of this section. We put on the north side all the other vegetables belong to this group.

The individual plants are:

Plant Variety Amount was sown
Potatoes Charlotte (second early) 18
Potatoes Kestrel (second early) 18
Potatoes Picasso (main) 16
Onion Stuttgarter Giant 25
Onion Karmen (red) 23
Garlic Casablanca (hardneck) 11
Garlic Solent Wight (softneck) 18
Shallot Red Sun 8
Spring Onion Ramrod 1/2 row = 3 metres
Leek Musselburgh 1/2 row = 3 metres
Carrot Amsterdam Forcing 3 1/2 row = 3 metres
Parsnip Gladiator (F1) 1/2 row = 3 metres
Beetroot Detroit 2 – Grimson Globe 1/2 row = 3 metres
Spinach beet Perpetual spinach 1/2 row = 3 metres
Parsley Green Pearl 1/3 row = 2 metres


As I love the warming earthy Halloween inspired soups in autumn and winter, I decided to try a full pack of pumpkin seeds to sow this season. I also had some leftover sweetcorn seeds from previous years, slightly out of date so I thought to give them their last chance. I built a bamboo structure for the gherkins so I would be able to tie them up as they grow, and the gherkins won’t touch the soil and start to rot. I have never grown salads so I will try to this year in this section.

The individual plants are:

Plant Variety Amount was sown
Pumpkin Cinderella (Heirloom) 6
Sweetcorn Applause (F1) 13
Sweetcorn Incredible (F1) 3
Gherkin Venlo pickling 16
Squash Hornet (F1) 5
Squash Jaune de Vert 2
Courgette ? (gift) 3
Courgette ? (gift) 3
Lettuce Little Gem 1/3 row = 2 metres
Radicchio Ceasare 1/3 row = 2 metres
Lettuce Lakeland 1/3 row = 2 metres
Lamb’s Lettuce 1/3 row = 2 metres
Wild Rocket 1/3 row = 2 metres


From previous experience, we learnt that it can be a problem if all the beans and peas ripe at the same time. We could manage to harvest but got into trouble with post harvesting; we run out of time to be able to handle, clean, sort, package, preserve and last but not least eat all the crop. We had to discard a lot of them as they turned bad and spoilt. So this year we try with succession sowing: sow seeds in batches so the plants ripe continuously.

The individual plants are:

Plant Variety Amount was sown
Broad Bean Bunyards Exhibition
Runner Bean
Scarlet Emperor 4+6
French Bean Jazz 12+6
French Bean
Wachs Beste von Allen
Dwarf French Bean
Borlotto Firetongue 12+11
Pea Kelvedon Wonder 48 in pairs
Mangetout Sugar Bon
48 in pairs


We have only grown Brussel Sprouts previously, by chance. I wanted to try to grow a few more vegetable in this group as green leafy vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals. Apparently, it is quite difficult to grow them for various reasons so it will be an interesting experiment to work with these plants.



Brassicas are under cover


The individual plants are:

Plant Variety Amount was sown
Broccoli Purple Sprouting
Savoy Cabbage
January King 7
Cauliflower All the Year Round 12
Brussel Sprout
Scarlet Globe 15
Cabbage Greyhound 4
Cabbage Golden Acre


All these vegetables will be exposed to the elements, to the good old English weather, moderate sun and fair amount of summer showers. If all things go well, there will be plenty of food to eat.