Vegetable Pictures
Alara - Permaculture in London
Oca: interesting potato-like tubers
The King's Cross Vineyard
More from the Alara Garden
Grafting a tomato shoot onto a potato
Cucumbers - article from 1829

Julie Drake is a keen allotment grower who puts on a new video most days. Tired of BBC gardening programmes? This the antidote. Julie lives and breathes plants. Watch her videos.


You may have had the impression from reading our APPLE and POTATO pages that we have an enormous garden.

We do not. We grow vegetables in about 50 square yards. (Imperial measures much more convenient than metric. Let's keep diversity in measures.)

We have 4 raised beds, and have a crop rotation of potatoes, squashes+salads, brassicas and finally legumes and onions.

We increase the fertility by using farmyard manure, worm compost and our own compost. We garden on heavy clay, but by just adding to the soil, not digging and not walking on it, after 10 years, it is full of worms, and easy to grow in.

In the potato bed we grow two varieties of potato. (See potato page to find out about the others) In the brassica bed we grow Calabrese, Broccoli and at least three varieties of Brussel Sprout. Over the years, we have found that there is always one variety that fails, but it is never the same two years running.

The squashes take over from the lettuces, spinach, radishes and whatever else has decided to grow. Again, we plant lots of varieties, knowing that something will fail,but never sure which it will be. One year parsnips are prolific, another even after three sowings, there is not one in sight. We grow a couple of plants of courgettes, and then try different squashs. Turks Turban have an interesring shape, just as the name describes, while custard marrows look like scalloped plates.

In the legume bed, we grow three types of onions. The Japanese sort planted in the autumn as well as red sets and spring planted sets. Yet again, not all three will be prolific, but one will outshine the others. Likewise we grow several varieties of french bean, and two varieties of runner. We have been given seeds of a bean from Majorca that climbs like a runner, but sets pods like a french bean, then develop something akin to a runner bean without the strings. This is becoming a favourite.

The freezer is groaning by the time the frosts come

From observation of our own garden, we are very concerned about mono-culture. Diversity is needed to keep the genetic pool wide for the future, and, on a personal level, important so that you do not lose your whole crop.

We have a green house where we grow cucumbers and tomatoes. There are hundreds of varieties available, that never make it to the shop. The flavours are distinctive, and the shapes and colours are diverse. You can click on this image to see a picture of tomatoes we have grown this year.


...and a few more from 2009:


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