As the year turns, even though the weather will remain miserable for a while yet, inevitably gardeners start to think about what to grow this year and how to do it better.
One decision I made late last year was to abandon any summer bedding plants in favour of wildflower which I intend to seed around the garden. Firstly, to see the aesthetic effect and to consider the impact on bees, butterflies and other pollinators. I have for the last two years grown a patch of annual wildflowers, and found it much easier than expected; for ideas and tips on growing a wildflower meadow. I haven't yet decided on which flower mix to use, more research needed.
We had a dry summer last year and, instinctively, I feel the chances of another are not great so I'm thinking of trying blight resistant potatoes this year, the Sarpo range.
Having been introduced to James Wong's book the Homegrown Revolution, he has inspired me to try something different. I will dip my toe into an unusual array and try New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides) and Persicaria odorata (Vietnamese coriander) as my ordinary Coriander is not always a wild success and I am told this is easier to grow. If you haven't already had a bash at growing Thai basil this is well worth it, not a lot of effort, much the same conditions as ordinary Basil and a great herb for stir fries.
I am, however, amazed to discover from James's book the plants which are eaten around the world, which I have previously always regarded as garden decorations, such as Hemercocallis (Daylilies,) apparently the flowers are very tasty, and Hosta a Japanese delicacy.
I have for some time recommended Amaranth (love lies bleeding) as a really interesting annual which is easy to raise from seed, and has lovely plumes in the summer, as the image right shows. I now know that Amaranth is known in many countries as Callaloo and widely eaten in the Caribbean, India, and Africa in a similar way to spinach. In fact, everything in the summer container in the image is edible including the Nasturtiums and Begonia flowers. I didn't know until recently you could eat it all, although I am still not sure I will; see what the summer brings.