The perfect garden plan

Cate Henderson works up the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary’s annual garden plan


Many gardeners enjoy planning their gardens over the winter time, as it means dreaming of all the beautiful flowers and delicious, perfect veggies they can grow. In the planning stage, no pests come to chew on leaves, no drought makes plants droopy, and no worries of poor pollination need apply.

The perfect garden of the imagination is all there is! When a gardener plans on growing some plants all the way to seed however, some restrictions do apply, which only increases the challenge and makes success that much more satisfying!

For instance, some plants that we think of as quite different for our purposes, are actually the very same species, and would happily reproduce together, producing an offspring that is not what we humans would like at all! An example of this is broccoli and cabbage. Many may have admired the cabbages in the garden last year, and wondered why we didn’t eat them.

The reason is that this year they will go to seed, producing hundreds, perhaps thousands of potential cabbages. But we must plan not to plant them near the broccoli, or we will certainly get some strange mixture of brocco-cabbages when we grow out that seed, not cabbages at all!

Not all of our varieties need to crosspollinate quite so desperately, so we don’t need to worry quite so much about them. Tomatoes, as you may have noticed, can grow quite close to each other without worry. Each flower can pollinate itself. For them we just need to know that we have a certain number of plants to maintain their natural genetic diversity – so we mark each plant on our garden map to be sure they have proper spacing.

So planning the seed-growing garden becomes a very important task, not to be left unattended! Our imaginary garden is “practically perfect in every way!” Mary Poppins, of course!