Regular readers of this blog will know that I write about things all 'Grow Your Own' related and 2016 is set to be no different with an action packed year ahead of me. RHS Garden Hyde Hall is currently undertaking a massive development programme which, thankfully, affects the vegetable plots in a good way!
Since the turn of the year we have had Stewarts Landscapes on site making a start on construction of the new Global Growth Vegetable Garden, a project that has been a good few years in the planning. This circular garden will feature a central octagonal glasshouse with a span of 14 metres (46ft), a feature that as gardener makes me very excited indeed as it will open up a whole new opportunity to grow a plethora of tender crops such as tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, melons and cucumbers that currently struggle to grow well on our existing windswept plot. The rest of the garden will be divided into four quarters, each representing a different continent of the world (Europe and the Middle East, Asia, North & Central America and South America).
The whole world in a garden
The plan is to grow well known traditional crops alongside new, exciting and rare edible plants that should broaden the minds of both gardeners and food lovers. Progress so far has meant that our estates team spent a busy week before Christmas dismantling and clearing our old nursery before the guys from Stewarts Landscapes came in and began work on installing new drainage, water pipes and other services before landscaping proper could begin. Work has just begun on laying the first of the pathways surrounding the glasshouse using a porphyry sett (granite) which will look amazing when finished, all 800m² of it! Fingers crossed, the garden will be up and running for spring next year but I will use this blog to give regular updates on progress.
Pumpin' up the pumpkin patch
As if planning to move to a whole new garden whilst keeping our existing one up to standard wasn’t enough work, I also have big plans for my pumpkin patch this year (another favourite subject of mind). Regular visitors will know that last year I managed to grow a giant weighing in at 530lb (240kg), so this year I have upped the ante a bit and set a target of 800-1000lb (360-453kg).
To achieve this I have been busy cultivating a new, larger area to accommodate bigger plants. Backing onto the existing veg plots I have worked lots of nutrient rich garden compost into an area measuring 150ft × 40ft (45m × 12m). This area has been divided into five bays measuring 30ft x 40ft, (9m × 12m) with each bay eventually becoming home to just one giant pumpkin plant.
The real secret to growing giant pumpkins is good seed and I have managed to source some with good pedigree this year, including one that came from the eighth largest pumpkin in the world in 2015. Seed sowing time is a little way off yet, so I am keeping busy double digging 8ft × 8ft (2.4m × 2.4m) planting pits, incorporating plenty of grit to improve the structure and drainage, which the young plants will be planted out in to. You can keep up to date with my progress through the summer in this blog.