161. Shit we’re growing this year

by | May 16, 2018 | Gardening bore | 3 comments


I do hope you like lists as much as I do, because that’s basically what this post is all about. What did you expect? I am a literal Gardening Bore.

So, *cracks knuckles in anticipation*, this year in the veg/fruit garden we’re growing:

  • Tomatoes and basil – Our wonky polytunnel mainstays. We’re being very disciplined and only growing four kinds of tomato: Latah (which is an early, cherry, bush variety and absolutely delicious); Grushkova (or possibly Grushovka? It’s a pink plum tomato, another bush variety, which saves all that faff on tying in and pinching out); a huge red called Feo de Rio Gordo; and a yellow cherry variety called Tangerine.
  • Chillies – Don’t ask me what variety we’re growing, I have no idea. Just random chilli seeds that we saved at some point last year. We dry some of our chillies but I also halve, de-seed and freeze a load each summer (I freeze anything that doesn’t move).
  • Rhubarb – We have three large plants, which is far too many for two people, so most of the rhubarb goes uneaten, growing monstrously every spring. But I like its hulking green presence in the corner of the veg patch.
  • Asparagus – In the UK, the advice is to stop cutting your spears at the beginning of June but, as we seem quite a way ahead here (especially this spring), we’ve already stopped cutting ours. Now the spears are turning into giant ferns, which we’ll cut down in the autumn.
  • Radishes – French Breakfast variety for us this year. I’ve been instructed to get my French on by eating them with butter and salt. I’m on board with this idea.
  • Lettuce – Every year I try. Every year I fail. Lettuce is my nemesis. Why don’t you like me, lettuce? Why?
  • Kale – Hardy through our winters right into March/April. Nice cooked. Nice in salads (which is handy, seeing as I couldn’t grow a lettuce if my life depended on it). This year we’re growing Black Tuscan and a green curly variety, although I’d like to try my hand at the purple curly kind in future.
  • Perpetual spinach – Basically just another means of getting some non-lettuce greens into us over the course of the year. These plants are tough as old boots, lasting all through the winter, although they do have a slightly tougher texture than spinach.
  • Courgettes – We always grow an Italian green stripy variety. Four plants this year. This may be verging on courgette insanity. Time will tell.
  • Butternut squash – Last year I discovered the magical power of pruning squash vines (as in, chopping off the ends once you’ve got two or three good little squashes on the vine). This made our vines really productive last year, because the plants put all their energy into producing good fruits instead of stretching ever outwards across the veg garden. We’ve still not eaten all of our anally-arranged squash from last year.
  • Garlic – Doesn’t look like we’re going to have as many bulbs as we did last year but, hey, we eat garlic almost every day so any garlic harvest will be gratefully received.
  • Blackberries – Actually our two blackberry plants (offcuts from our neighbour’s plants) aren’t that tasty. But they’re okay in a crumble. It’s hard to complain about free plants, but we might replace them with a better variety in future.
  • Strawberries – We’ve already eaten our first strawberries from the garden, on May 12th to be precise. I’m sure that’s a record for earliest strawberries in our garden. Shows how far ahead everything is this year.
  • From the trees – The usual cherry plums, walnuts, pears (bleurgh), apples and, hopefully, some quince. It looks like our big apple tree is in for a good year. Cider me up, Scotty!


The garden greening up nicely back in April.
Planting out the gladioli.
Under the apple tree. Hosta in the foreground, then a sea of aquilegias.


Over in the flower garden

We’ve been gradually expanding our flower borders by dividing our trusty perennials, saving seed wherever we can, and investing in lots of bulbs. Thrifty, like.

  • Alliums – These love our garden and we keep finding new baby bulbs every year. Most are the bog standard Purple Sensation variety, and they look great even when they’re no longer purple. They look especially good now that Barney the Terrible (posthumously renamed Saint Barney the Beautiful) isn’t around to bite their heads off.
  • Gladioli – We force ours indoors in spring to get them off to an earlier start. This year we counted over 70 good-sized bulbs (corms I think they are technically?), which is weird as we definitely only bought 50!
  • Dahlias – In my first year of gardening, I painstakingly sowed some dahlia seeds, pricked them out, grew them on and planted them out, only for our snail army to destroy them. I was left with three – fucking three – plants. But I’ve been taking cuttings from those three every year and gradually increasing my stock.
  • Aquilegias and peonies – We inherited two plants when we moved into the house: a gorgeous peony and an aquilegia, both growing by the front door. (The rest of the garden was just grass, trees and a concrete path.) Now, through dividing, we’ve got more than a dozen peonies and the aquilegias have spread so much they basically need to be treated as a weed. I love their little fairy bonnet appearance, though.
  • Bearded irises – Scratch that, we inherited a couple of irises, too, which we’ve been dividing regularly. We’ve got the magnificent bluey/purple ones with the yellow bum fluff. I’d love to have some all-yellow irises. We have way too much purple in the garden.
  • White foxgloves – New for this year and looking very splendid in the shade under the apple tree, rising up out of the canopy of aquilegias. They’re only biennials, but hopefully they will happily reseed themselves and come back each year.
  • Hostas – Also located happily under the apple tree, although the ultimate plan is to make a pond area and have them around that.
  • Comfrey – Another thing that’s spreading like a motherfucker. We cut it back ruthlessly and add it to the compost/make comfrey tea from it every summer, but I’ll have to start actually yanking some plants out soon.
  • Sweet Williams, snapdragons and calendula – I save seed from these every year, but they always pop up of their own accord in new places. I love plants that do that. Unless it’s comfrey.
  • Honeysuckle and roses – Growing up over an arch together and looking/smelling very nice indeed at this time of year. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic of our beautiful yellow climbing rose before I deadheaded this morning. Fail!
  • Salvia, gaura, penstemmons and miscanthus – Not grouped together for any logical reason, we just bought a few of each on a splurge at a nursery last autumn and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

And there are others that I can’t remember/can’t see from my desk window and can’t be bothered to go outside and look.

Phew! Well, that’s my list fetish satisfied for a week or so (maybe, if I’m lucky). I hope it was good for you, too.

Oh, also, we’ve bought a new camera (as you might be able to tell from the difference in quality between the first photo and the others taken on my phone), so expect many, MANY more visual Gardening Bore updates this summer.


  1. the hippopotamus

    Artichokes? Are they too much bother? And do you just not waste your time with potatoes? They are cheap in BG. Do you only grow your tomato plants in the famous wonky polytunnel or do you also have some out in the open? What about grapes? A waste of time? If you managed to grow some lemons, how about avocadoes?

  2. the hippopotamus

    have you had an experiences of friends bringing seeds from the UK? An old friend of mine is bringing heaps of bulbs and seeds and all kinds of gardening things, but he is very worried that the Bulgarian Customs people will confiscate them all. Although I have written again and again to various branches of the Bulgarian government, I have never been given a straight answer. All I get is a sort of official version of "Pass the Parcel", as each time you get referred to a different government department. Frustration!

  3. Auntie Bulgaria

    That's a lot of questions. In order:
    – I've mentioned before we don't grow artichokes. I tried once but they didn't survive the winter. Shame. I really like them.
    – Spuds just take up too much space and don't really seem worth it.
    – Yes, tomatoes are only in the polytunnel to help keep the blight under control.
    – We inherited both red and white grape vines, and Rob makes wine from them. There are some older posts about this if you're interested.
    – No plans to grow avocados, as we're trying to limit the number of things in pots that need bringing indoors for the winter!

    And, yes, I bring seeds from the UK all the time. I just bung them in my suitcase and no one seems to care. I've also brought allium bulbs in my case. Whether you're supposed to or not is another matter…


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