Listening to the wondrous institution that is Gardener’s Question Time on Radio 4 the other day I was reminded that it is time to get buying (and even planting!) seeds. Usually I’m well ahead of the game by this time, so I was a bit surprised that I had a ‘is it that time of the year already?!’ moment..
I think it’s because the weather has been so awful it’s hard to imagine that spring will ever come. Plus our garden looks terrible just now – a muddy mess full of rather sad looking dead stuff, with some lumps of soil where we’re halfway through some renovations. Our visitor at the weekend said it looked like we’d been digging trenches… oh dear. So it’s time to get planning…
One source of inspiration for us this year is A Taste of the Unexpected by Mark Diacono, which we were lucky enough to receive as a Christmas gift. I had first seen it mentioned one of my absolute favourite blogs – The Cottage Smallholder, in a post about growing Egyptian Walking Onions – I thought they sounded intriguing – as did the book itself.
I haven’t been disappointed – this is really great book for a beginner gardener like me. Diacono’s contention is that instead of spending our time, energy, garden-space & money on growing veg that is cheap & easily available in the shops (like carrots & potatoes), we should grow stuff that isn’t so easily available or that’s just so much better home-grown. No doubt seasoned gardeners will already be growing asparagus, rhubarb & apricots, but there are all sorts of mysterious ideas too – such as blue honeysuckle, oca, kain lan, medlars & Carolina allspice.
Some of these immediately appeal, and I’ve already got them on my list. For example, I’m addicted to quinces (the taste and that delicious smell), and am keen to get a quince tree going as soon as we’ve decided on the best place to put one. I’m also going to try growing salsify, the walking onions, sweet cicely, blue honeysuckle & Japanese wineberries too.
The books also contains notes on growing (not extensive, so you might have to turn elsewhere to get very detailed advice), some rather fabulous- sounding recipes and notes on suppliers & sources of plants and seeds. The photography is gorgeous too. Highly recommended.