Vegetable Garden: Planning for Next Year’s Stars

There’s nothing better than seeing a veg garden in all its late summer glory. Aberglasney’s Kitchen Garden is become ever more important because its produce is used so frequently in our shop and tearooms. It’s home to fruit, vegetables, cut flowers, dried flowers, herbs, and ornamental plants – all of which we need to make sure look good for our visitors.

Many of the vegetables in the Kitchen Garden are still going strong now. In fact, the beets and brassica’s have put on a show as impressive as any winter bedding display, not to mention the added benefit of the hearty meals you can produce with them.

One of my favourite jobs in December and January is flicking through seed catalogues and notes from previous years to inspire next year’s plan. This year, the veg plan includes some favourites of last year along with newcomers, but the big difference is that the veg this year will be mixed with cut flowers. The main reason behind this is to make succession sowing easier and create a display that lasts longer. In the beginning, I thought finding vegetables with enough range in colour to match the flowers would be tricky, however, but when you get into it you quickly realise how much vibrancy and choice there is.

Canna, Salvia and Dill in the kitchen garden

As well as coloured vegetables, we’re attempting to grow a number of tropical ones such as the climbing spinach ‘Malabar’, a collection of bananas, and numerous herbs such as Vietnamese coriander. Under glass, we’re growing seven different types of tomato; old favourites like Sungold and Marmande are being mixed with new additions like Y Ddraig Goch (a welsh variety bred on Anglesey). We’ve also had great success recently with melons grown in our Melon House so this year we’re going to give Charantais a go.

Tropical Edibles: Canna, Amaranthus hot Biscuit and Banana

Since we’re mixing flowers and vegetables together, a new experiment we’re going to try is ornamental sorghum; a gluten free ancient grain that’s very popular as a food source in other parts of the world. We’ll also be growing edible and ornamental Maize which is always a showstopper and an excellent table crop, as well as another ornamental cereal which is an old favourite: purple Millet.

Sweetcorn in the Kitchen Garden

Elsewhere in our new tropical/herb border, we’ll be growing Jerusalem artichoke and Holy basil (Tulsi) along with other more conventional herbs such as Thyme, Italian Parsley and Sage. This border is also going to have many flowering plants such as tropical Salvia, Begonia, Canna and Dahlia added to the display.

The hot border in Kitchen Garden where we combine Cabbage, Amaranthus, Dahlia and Verbena

Fruits-wise, we’ve decided to add two conventional strawberry varieties to the garden this year which are, in my opinion, just as exciting as any of the more exotic names that we’re adding.

Salvia Lolla rosso lettuce and Toscana Strawberries


Tips for the Week:

  1. Try some different veg in your gardens this year – now’s a great time to plan and choose
  2. Remove leaves from Hellebores to expose their flowers
  3. It’s not too late to sow Sweet Peas
  4. There’s plenty of early cropping vegetables that can be planted now
  5. If you’re sowing, warm the soil with horticultural fleece
  6. If we get snow, it’s a good idea to shake it off the branches of evergreens and conifers as their branches are at risk of breaking under the weight

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