It's January, gloomy and raining, so what could be nicer than to be wafted away to a desert island where there's warmth, blue skies, good company and a host of lovely plants to grow chosen by my garden blogging buddies? Shirl set us that challenge for yesterday, but my leaky, battered raft of a blog has taken a little while to reset its course and has landed on the soft, white sand a day late. I hope I'm not too late for the welcoming party. Rum punch anyone?
James set us a similar challenge last year and it's one worth revisiting with Shirl, only this time we have just three plants allowed as stowaways instead of six. My head really hurt back then when choosing my companions and you'd think that by having a shortlist already, I'd be in a better position to whittle it down to three. That just ain't so, the plants I didn't include the last time around are still sulking in my garden and of course the select six are still preening themselves most winsomely. So I'm sorry Shirl, my original list of snowdrops, mystery Clematis (thankfully no longer a mystery courtesy of Mr Evison), Echinacea, Lavender, Heuchera 'Licorice' and golden fastigate Yew are mutinous looking swabs at the moment and staying firmly aboard.
However, it's always been my intention to produce an allotment version of my desert island and whilst Shirl has been most reassuring there won't be a food problem at our new home, I'm a bit worried it might be the usual desert island fare of coconuts, mangoes and fish. Now, I love all three and they do combine well, but I suspect they might pall after a while, so I've taken the liberty to bring a few choice nibbles with me as dietary supplements.
You may think I've made my job a little easier by choosing food, after all their palette is a little more limited than garden plants, but those of you who do grow vegetables and have been consulting your seed catalogues recently know only to well, the choice of vegetables and varieties can be equally bewildering. Besides, I've tried to pick three plants which give us the possibility of a two course meal like Ready Steady Cook.
First up is Garlic. The cloves I potted up last November have just begun to poke their shoots through the soil this week, so are a firm favourite currently. And what could be better than scrummy garlic bread to accompany our meal? The leaves could be used as a more subtly flavoured wrapping for our fish - yum. It has superb medicinal properties and will ensure we're kept in tip top health during our sojourn. My choice is Cristo - a softneck variety that produces large fat cloves of superb flavour and stores particularly well.
I've decided we need a touch of luxury, so my second choice is asparagus. I haven't grown this yet and like the Yew in my first desert island choices, represents my future allotment. I have some Gijnlim seedlings growing in my coldframe at the moment ready for planting out later this year, so I'll just put them in that well drained little patch over there if that's OK with you? We can feast on the fresh spears, make a delicious soup and even bottle (aka can) any surplus to eke out our produce.
My final choice has been the hardest to make - the fruit for our pudding. I'm a great fan of heritage apples, so had a massive dalliance with them for quite some time. Choosing one from the 2,000+ varieties available proved too much. I also considered strawberries long and hard - it's the one glut I never tire of and I was speculating our desert island might yield a few cacao trees for us to make unlimited supplies of chocolate to dip them into. Then the chocolate melted away because of the heat and I gave up the idea. I finally decided on my prize winning Autumn Bliss raspberries. They crop for a much longer period than strawberries (July to November in my experience) and are delicious red jewels to eat fresh from their canes even if there's no cream, yoghurt or chocolate available. Another food with storage possibilities for any excess, assuming we can stop indulging ourselves of course.
Hmm, I can see there might be an eensy weensy little problem with my choices owing to their new climate. Garlic needs a cold period to thrive and promote clove formation, whilst raspberries prefer a cool season hence their productivity in Scotland and Scandinavia. Hardly desert island fare - perhaps we'd better stick with the coconuts, mangoes and fish after all.