Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Designed to be eaten

It is now just over 6 weeks until the BBC Gardeners' World Live show and my panic levels are rising slightly. I have been sowing seeds for this project since early February when I was working on the design side of things. The successful designers were due to be notified in early March, so I figured that it would be too late to start some plants at that stage, so optimistically began sowing sweet peas and other fairly hardy seeds. My greenhouse is bursting at the seams and I feel like I've been pricking out lettuce and other seedlings since the very dawn of time, but I'm optimistic that I will be able to fill the raised bed come June.

The plans below are taken from my submitted application to the RHS. As Edible Patches is considered an amateur category, they weren't too prescriptive about how the submission was made. Which is lucky, as my autocad drawing skills are somewhat limited. So, drawing on my knowledge of garden design plan types, I went for a 'plan view' (a bird's eye view) of what the bed would look like and two 'elevation views'  – a simple sketch giving a sense of what it would like standing at each of the long sides looking across the bed. My freehand drawing skills stopped developing at age 13, so I relied on my trusty iPad and an app called Paper to put my ideas down in a visually attractive way.
The plan view gives a very simplistic impression, mainly concerned with colour and texture variations between my selected crops and flowers. The plan is not to scale, so I also generalised the space taken up by each plant.

In the elevation views, you can get more of a feel to the vertical structure and hierarchy of the components of the raised bed. The 3 central circles in the plan view have become wigwams up which climbers will grow. Some plants are in symmetry across a central axis, some contrast with the plant adjacent or reflect some element of the plant at the opposite side.

Lastly, this is the planting plan and plant list. Still, the space taken by each type of plant is generalised but this allows you to see what plants I am intending to use in what area of the bed.

  1. Limnanthes douglasii (poached egg plant)
  2. Broccoli Kailan 'Kichi'
  3. Nasturtium 'Milkmaid'
  4. Kohl Rabi 'F1 Ballot'
  5. Asparagus pea
  6. Chard 'Bright Lights'
  7. Basil 'Red Rubin'
  8. Lettuce 'Romana Mortarella Verde D'Inverno'
  9. Lettuce 'Navara'
  10. Cucumber 'La Diva'
  11. Climbing Nasturtium mixed
  12. Broad Beans 'Crimson Flowered'
  13. Lathyrus chloranthus 'Lemonade' (sweet pea)
  14. Cucamelon
  15. Purple dwarf french beans
  16. Sage
  17. Dill 'Bouquet'
  18. Pea 'Golden Sweet'
  19. Lancashire Lad purple podded pea
  20. Lathyrus odoratus 'Matucana' (sweet pea)
  21. Fennel
  22. Cerinthe major 'purpurescens'

My selection criteria for these were:
* edible crop or companion plant with a specific benefit to edible crops
* can be grown from seed
* easy to grow – no specialist gardening knowledge or equipment needed
* has an attractive merit: flower colour/shape, colourful leaves/stems, unusual variety, productive crop

The Edible Patches are designed to show how a small area can be turned over to edible crops, so I made sure that everything I chose will grow well in shallow soil or containers (as some people's small space might be a patio or balcony) and I wanted to show how quickly edibles can get from sowing to harvest.

I may have to make a few small tweaks/changes to this design by the time the show comes around. My sage is an existing plant in a beautiful container, that was grown from seed a few years ago, but everything else has been sown since autumn 2013. I have plenty of back-up plants as well as a few replacements in case one variety fails, succumbs to pests or simply gives up the ghost in the next few weeks. But I hope to stick as faithfully to my original design as I can.


  1. I hope you take plenty of photos and good luck. I hope everything cooperates and is ready when you need it to be.

    1. Thanks Sue. I have a few things that aren't yet growing as quickly as I'd like them to be. Hopefully a bit more sun in the next few weeks can remedy that!

  2. It looks so interesting. You have make a very good plan for your garden. I can't wait to see your gardens plan is realized.

    1. I will be talking loads of photos Endah, both before the show and on site. Hopefully it will look as good in the flesh as it does in my head.

  3. It's so exciting, and probably quite nerve-wracking too. This is the time it all starts coming together no doubt. Good luck!

    1. Thanks CJ. I have already experienced a couple of early morning doubts where I convince myself it's going to be an epic failure. Thankfully they're just momentary and once I head outside, most of my plants seem to be progressing.

  4. I really look forward to seeing photos of the finished bed, it should be beautiful, and what a tasty selection. Good luck with the last weeks of plant-tending and with actual build.

    1. I'm looking forward to getting on site - I was at Chelsea last year during the final build week and it was a real hustle and bustle. Now I just need some kind vehicle hire company to lend me a huge van to get everything there...

    2. A most interesting post. I recognised chard 'Bright Lights' immediately in your plan view :) It looks as if it will be most pleasing to the eye.

    3. My artistic talent is recognised at last! My other half wanted to know what the 'little red christmas trees' were in the middle of the plan. That's the best I could do for crimson-flowered broad beans, I'm afraid...

  5. Wow, I had no idea you were doing this! My sister lives near Birmingham, I now want to come up and have a look! What a fantastic undertaking, I really wish you well for this - despite nerves, it looks from your plan that a really great garden will be on show. PS interesting to know about the ipad app, could be useful, thanks! Cx