Planning and plotting

It’s that time again. When it’s grey and dank outside, and you know that you should be outside doing something useful but the motivation isn’t there, the ultimate fallback job is seed shopping. There is a year’s growing to plan.

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Catalogue time

This year I’ve got a few aims for the allotment. I want to:

1. Extend the season a little, so that it both starts earlier and finishes later. In 2014 we didn’t get anything edible until about June, and it had pretty much stopped being productive by October. I think we can do better.

2. Have lots of flowers to attract pollinating insects but also, let’s face it, to show off.

3. Have plenty of leafy green veggies for pastas and stir fries, as early as possible. Beetroot tops, cima di rapa, radish tops, chard, spinach: I love it all, and it’s nigh on impossible to buy really fresh.

4. Have a special herb area by the greenhouse.

To know what seeds to buy, it’s good to know what you already have. So I’ve now got an inventory of all our leftover seed and have chucked out the really old stuff.

Next is the really fun bit: I’ve come over all Blue Peter, got out my felt-tips and post-its, and plotted out what I think we’ll grow and where.

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The initial plan

The rubbish old raspberries by the shed are going to come up, making room for an autumnal crop (hopefully) of purple sprouting and cavalo nero.

There’s a dedicated area for those leafy greens, plus I think there will be flowers in both the main producing beds: I like the idea of violas, cosmos, dahlias, sweet peas, foxgloves and sunflowers breaking up the blocks of onions and beans.

And because I can’t help myself (and also can never remember when things are meant to be started), I now have a long list of what we’re going to grow and when. It’s actually a really long list…but it’s no longer than last year, so I think we’ve got a good chance of pulling it off.

The seeds are ordered, I’m £50 worse off…and the new season is begun.

Allotment Sowing: Spring 2015


Sweet pea (King Size Navy Blue, Antique Fantasy, Everlasting white pearl), (pots, end Jan)

Feb and March: 

Tomato, Costultuo Fiorento, 12/2017, Seeds of Italy (pots, end Feb)

Tomato, Marmande, 12.2016, Seeds of Italy

Tomato, Red Cherry, Seeds of Italy

Tomato, Golden Boy F1, Seeds of Italy

Parsnip, Tender and True, Packed 2014, Real Seed Co (Direct sow late Feb-May)

Beetroot, Boltardy, 6/2015, Suttons (Seed tray April-May)

Beetroot, Chioggia, Sarah Raven

Borlotti, Lamon Rampicante, 12/2015, Seeds of Italy (Under cover, March/April)

Climbing Bean, Cobra, 6/2015, Suttons (Pots, Mid March to June)

French Bean, Blauhilde, Sarah Raven

Leek, Bleu de Solaise, Packed 2013, Real Seed Co (Seed tray March/April)

Onion sets

Pea, Serge, 12/2015, Sarah Raven (Direct sow, March-July)

Radish, Red Top, Packed 2013, Real Seed Co (Direct sow late Feb-Sept)


Chives, Sarah Raven (April-May)

Coriander Leaf, Packed 2013, Real Seed Co (April-May)

Hyssop, Sept 2015, Suffolk Seeds (March- Sept)

Basil, Seeds of Italy (anytime)

Catnip, Seeds of Italy (March-Sept)

Sorrel, Sept 2016, Suffolk Seeds (all year)

Parsley, Gigante di Napoli, 12/2017, Seeds of Italy (March-Sept)


Sunflower, Vanilla Ice, no date, Sarah Raven (Pots, March-April)

Sunflower, Claret F1, no date, Sarah Raven

Sunflower, Valentine, Dec 2016, Sarah Raven

Sunflower, Formula Mix, Seeds of Italy

Viola, Heartease, no date, Sarah Raven (pots, March-April)


  • Prune fruit
  • Weed big raspberries
  • Move gooseberry
  • Prep soil in main beds
  • Dig out small raspberries
  • Dig out strawberries
  • Work out way of making haybale propagator


Cima di Rapa, 6/2017, Seeds of Italy (Direct sow April)

Sweetcorn, F1 Sundance, No date, Suttons (Pots, mid-April)

Sweetcorn, Zuccerino, Seeds of Italy

Chard, Lucullis, Packed YE 5/2013, Sarah Raven (Direct sow March-Sept)

Chard, Bright Lights, Sarah Raven

Spinach, Medania, Sarah Raven (Direct April and August)

Winter lettuce mix, packed YE Aug 14, Sarah Raven (March-May)

Lettuce, Marveille de Quartre Saison, packed YE Feb 2015, Sarah Raven (March-May)

Lettuce, Lollo Rossa, 2014/2015, Seeds of Italy (March-May)

Spring Onion, White Lisbon, 2016, Mr Fothergills (Try in pots, March to Sept)

Spring Onion, North Holland Blood Red, Sarah Raven (Direct, April to Sept)

Ornamental squash, Seeds of Italy (Feb-June)

Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Red Arrow, Sarah Raven (pot, April-May)

Carrot, Harlequin Mix F1, Sarah Raven (April-May direct)

Courgette, Bianca, Romanesco and Soleil, Sarah Raven (pots, late March-April)



Cavalo Nero, 6/2017, Seeds of Italy (pots, May)

Sweet Rocket, Dec 15, Thompson and Morgan (May to June)

Ornamental Delft mix, Sarah Raven (Direct, April – June)

Dill, Sarah Raven (Direct, April – August)

Kale, Rouge de Russie, Sarah Raven (Direct, April- September)


Fennel, Romanesco, 6/2015, Sarah Raven (June)

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