This wasn't supposed to happen...

I think I may have created a problem for myself with the seeds I have just planted. I’m worried that when they grow up into big tasty plants they might look a little – how can I say this – right wing. Let me explain.

I’ve got a couple of square raised beds at the bottom of the garden. For a few years now I’ve been growing vegetables in nice straight lines, but this year I thought I’d try something a little different.

Feeling adventurous, I planted my garlic in a cross in one bed, and my onion sets in the same shape in the next door bed. Nice structural veggies, they’ll form elegant dividing lines in the beds. So far, so good.

Next I planted various salad seeds and some beetroot, different seeds for each quarter of the bed. These I planted in straight lines, but for a bit of variety I switched the direction of said lines so that the veggies in the NE and SW quadrants will grow horizontally while the SE and NW ones will grow vertically. Sweet, I thought. This is going to look pretty good.

But then I got to thinking about the pattern that will emerge. And this is where I start to get a tad nervous. Try sketching out the lines and you see what I mean. Uh huh, that’s right.

It looks just like a swastika.

I appear to have inadvertently planted some vegetables in homage to Adolf Hitler.

Not good. But luckily I noticed in time to prevent myself doing the same thing in the other bed. This time I congratulated myself by not going for straight lines, instead opting for diagonals, with the lines all pointing in to the middle.

But then I had a think about this one too. And you see, a cross with diagonal lines on top of it, well that’s basically a Union flag. Not so bad by itself – a little odd I guess, but harmless – but stick your Union flag next to a swastika and all of a sudden you look like a deranged BNP nutcase who is so obsessed wtih fascism that he grows his vegetables in the shape of Nazi symbols.

This is not good. I’m telling myself that hey, the salad leaves are bushy and planted pretty close together, and I’ve messed the seeds up a little so the lines aren’t that straight.

So no one will notice, right? Still, next time I might sketch out the plans before I sow anything.

Lesson learnt.


The master plan

An evening spent with a ruler and the boys’ paint set, and this is what you get: a high quality rendition of the world’s greatest allotment…

Of course, it looks an awful lot better in the flesh. It’s just the scanner’s a bit dodgy so you can’t see the lovely brushwork and fine draftsmanship.

You’re going to have to trust me on that one.

Anyway, enough of the picture, let’s talk about the plan. The plot, as regular readers will both know, is not currently quite as structured or carefully laid out as a first time visitor might think when looking at the above.

In fact there are currently no clearly-marked beds to speak of, only a few strange-shaped holes in the grass that look reasonably man-made. Clearly some work will be required to get it looking like the piccie, but every journey starts with a single step, blah blah blah.

I’ve gone for a fairly straightforward layout; lots of long thin beds that should allow me to access all the veggies without having to clamber over all the soil. And to stop it getting too boring and linear I threw in a few triangular beds at the western end of the plot (although I fear they might be a bit of a faff to measure out and dig).

I’m thinking that once I’ve dug the beds I’ll edge them with boarding to give them a nice clear border, and if I put down weed matting and woodchip over the paths then that should also remove the need to cut the grass, thus lowering the maintenance levels.

It may have an added bonus of deterring slugs and snails. The slimy buggers don’t seem to like the raised beds at the bottom of the garden and I’m hoping that’s at least in part because of the woodchip that surrounds them.

As well as the layout of the beds I’ve also decided what to plant in them. Obviously you can see the fruit and veg very clearly in the delightful botanical illustration above, so you don’t really need me to explain what’s going where, but for those of you who perhaps have dodgy eyes or poor quality monitors, I shall humour you.

Along the Northern border I’ll be planting raspberries and blackberries. That’s the shadier side of the plot and they should be a bit happier than most things being slightly out of the sun.

On the opposite edge are potatoes (roasting and new) and butternut squashes. In the middle, from left to right, are onions, carrots, (more) squashes – Uchiki Kuri this time – and then leeks and parsnips.

I’ve gone for a bit of height in the nifty triangular beds, and there we’ve got (clockwide from left) sweetcorn, borlotti beans, globe artichokes and jerusalem artichokes. Apparently they make you parp.

In theory I should have a good mix of veggies that are either far too big for the back garden (I’m looking at you, Uchiki Kuri) or nice and low maintenance so can cope with being ignored for days on end; the root vegetables should be tough enough to handle the neglect coming their way.

Closer to home the back garden will have some of the more high maintenance specimens, such as broad beans (which always get covered in black fly) and salad, which we eat pretty much every day.

But enough of the chit chat. Time to get the paints out and work on the plan for the bottom of the garden…