The Planting Plan

On Saturday, to prevent a full scale bout of cabin fever, I walked over to the local library to see if they had any inspiring gardening books to help me finalise this year’s planting plan for the plot.  I’m not normally so organised but space is tight and I’m keen to get as much as possible out of it.  Once there however I was sidetracked by a big display of shiny new, recently published cookery books.  Irresistible.  Browsing through one of them, The Great British Vegetable Cookbook by Sybil Kapoor, made me have a bit of rethink.


What if I approached the planting plan not from the perspective of what I fancy growing but instead from what is I want to eat.  Yes it’s easy to grow beans, they’re nice steamed with a Sunday roast and I do like a simple treatment but given the trend for eating less meat and the love and care we take to get them to the plate, I’m thinking they need to take more of a centre stage rather than just being the sidekick to a leg of lamb.

So with that in mind I scooped up the three I thought would be most suitable along with a copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall‘s River Cottage Veg Everyday, added a couple of books I already own and spent the rest of the afternoon on the sofa with pen and paper in a foodie swoon.

I’ve ended up with a long list but one I’m very excited by.

I’d love to know about your planting plans for this year so if you have some time please share in the comments.

On a final note, because I haven’t cooked anything from the books I borrowed I won’t give any review of them here, beyond telling you that they are all drool worthy to look at, make for interesting reading and to issue a warning that the introduction to Allegra McEvedy‘s Big Table Busy Kitchen may well make you cry if you are a mother or a daughter.

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17 Responses to “The Planting Plan”

  1. Sue@GLAllotments January 20, 2014 @ 1:05 pm (#)

    I’ll be interested to hear what you cook as often vegetable cookbook are full of things that assume you are a vegetarian and want to use meat substitutes of some kind. I found the River Cottage TV programme on vegetables disappointing for this.

    • Southbourne Gardens replied: — January 20th, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

      I’m not sure I watched it Sue, but no meat substitutes in the book. I don’t eat a lot of meat anyway but D is a dedicated carnivore so it will be interesting. I just want to make more of them really.

  2. home, garden, life January 20, 2014 @ 3:15 pm (#)

    Do you own a copy of the Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith? This title should be in every gardener’s collection. Available at Amazon. I re-read every winter, as this book never fails to inspire.

    • Southbourne Gardens replied: — January 20th, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

      I don’t but will look out for it next time I’m at Wisley. Trying to be restrained re buying books hence going to the library but it’s very difficult when there are so many interesting ones about.

  3. Joanne January 20, 2014 @ 4:29 pm (#)

    I love the River cottage veg book I think there are some lovely meals in there. I shall look out for the Allegra McEvedy‘s Big Table Busy Kitchen.

  4. crthompson2013 January 20, 2014 @ 7:27 pm (#)

    I’m with you on this – the bank balance is empty and the bookshelf is groaning under the weight of all my gardening books. I love the idea of working back from the kitchen to the veg plot. Especially true when the plot is small or you have limited time. Why spend hours sowing and hoeing around onions? – use the space for exciting fruit and veg you’re going to look forward to eating.

    The Riverford Farm book is excellent for inspiration on using up veg gluts.

    • Southbourne Gardens replied: — January 20th, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

      They had the Riverford Farm book so will take a look. I’m really going to work hard on the preserving aspect this year so it could be very useful.

  5. thegardendeli January 20, 2014 @ 9:38 pm (#)

    It’s very reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one who plans their vegetable patch from shopping lists and cookbooks! Have you seen Ottolenghi’s book ‘Plenty’?… although if you already have a long list of things to grow, maybe you should avoid reading any more books until next winter

    • Southbourne Gardens replied: — January 28th, 2014 @ 10:45 pm

      Goodness, sorry for my very late reply. I did think that this wouldn’t be a new idea and it seems such a sensible approach. I have the first book, which I love, but not Plenty. It’s always good to look for new inspiration.

  6. Alexandra Campbell January 22, 2014 @ 11:36 am (#)

    I was fascinated by James Wong’s latest book James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution and his approach to growing and eating food, which is to focus on exotic foods that would cost a great deal in shops but which do actually grow well here (like Goji berries). Other berries he recommends includes fuschias, but I just couldn’t bring myself to try them. Ottolenghi’s Plenty is fabulous, by the way, just the best vegetarian cookbook my daughter and I have ever cooked from.

    • Southbourne Gardens replied: — January 28th, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

      I’m sorry to be so late in replying. Yours is the second recommendation for Plenty so it’s definitely one for the list. The more exotic crops are tempting, but I fear I don’t have the experience. Would love to know what you decide to grow.

  7. Urvashi Roe January 28, 2014 @ 10:24 pm (#)

    I used James Wong’s book last year to grow some unusual things like dahlia yams. They looked a treat and the flowers were wonderful in salads and frittatas but we barely got any yams. This year for sure I want beetroots, nasturtiums and courgettes because they were so plentiful and have kept us going this winter from the freezer. I want to grow the peas with the edible red flowers. I would also like to grow the purple potatoes but I can’t find them anywhere. Aubergines are on the list. Little baby ones as I love them stuffed with peanuts and Indian spices. Other than that I’m not sure, but inspired by your chilli range.

    • Southbourne Gardens replied: — January 28th, 2014 @ 10:37 pm

      Pennard Plants do have some blue/purple varieties of potatoes, Purple Majesty for example and will be in London in a couple of weeks at the RHS halls. The dishes you have planned sound wonderful especially the aubergine stuffed with peanuts.

      • Urvashi Roe replied: — January 28th, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

        Ooooh thank you. That’s so exciting. Can’t wait to see my girls faces with purple mash. We do pink mash with beetroot but they now think this is too girly. 2014 is all about the amethyst. Sigh!

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