Desert Island Plant Fare

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.

Do head over to Shirl's Gardenwatch to have a look at everyone else's choices. She's set up Mr Linky (as well as the image used above - thanks Shirl) to make your tour an easy (boat)ride.


  1. Well now this is a new take on the challenge. Love it! Can I come visit for some raspberries?:)

  2. VP really enjoyed this post, good to take some extra special food with us - I am convinced we are all going to be on the same island!! I know what you mean about the choice of vegetable seeds. I hope to have my new veg plot up and running by the spring but have avoided thinking about what I am going to put in it, its hard enough choosing my flower seeds - I had thought veg would be simpler.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  3. Hi VP, you are a funny one, and a bit of a rebel too! :-) I am for the garlic choice, and we have found it an easy crop here in TN, but have to grow the soft neck type, maybe that would do better on the isle too. I would love to grow asparagus, the plants are on the shelves now, you might have just pushed me off the lazyboy to go and get some. I have no idea how to grow them though. Raspberries, oh yes please! I have the golden Anne, and there is nothing sweeter.

  4. I think it is harder to choose edibles than ornamentals. I like your choices though I was convinced you would go for an apple

  5. Tina - of course you may :)

    Sylvia - I'm glad there's someone who understands my veggie dilemmas

    Frances - I din't really want to repeat myself and an allotment desert island choice has been on my list of potential posts for 5 months. Shirl's challenge was the nudge I needed

    PG - I should have chosen an apple seeing its my signature allotment plant shouldn't I? It's just that the raspberries seemed to finish off our meal that little bit better.

  6. Hi VP, my first thought too was fooood! I was actually a bit disappointed that the food was already there.
    Great choices and post VP it always interesting and fun to read your posts VP.

    Have a great weekend, I hope your weather isn't to bad./ xoxo Tyra

  7. Excellent post VP,

    We would all love the medical and culinary aspects of garlic, the luxury of asparagus and delicious raspberries...I do hope someone thought to pack the chocolate. Speaking of asparagus...there was a large bin of asparagus roots at a big box store. I was so tempted to try it in the GOBN. It would look perfect with its feathery fern look! Now I have one question about this rule bending~~which, btw, I greatly admire! Could any of your ancestors possibly have been in the Americas in 1776;-)


  8. VP - I am not sure if it is a good thing or not that my plant choices have not moved on from James' desert island challenge, and I see looking back at my comment on your post last time, even the plants I mentioned there were on my short list this time.

    For my veg choices - I totally agree, with the autumn fruiting raspberries, (yum) and I think I would take peas, because I cannot resist them - they never make it to the dinner table.
    Plus beetroot (mixed packet of seeds to include red ace, burpees golden and Chioggggia) for that lovely roasted earthy taste.
    In some ways the veg choices are so much harder, especially when you start to include herbs .....

  9. The climate on the island adapts to any plant needs, so you're safe there, VP! Your choices have me getting ready to hit the fridge or the pantry; mmm, I love 'em all! It would be wonderful to have a nice meal w/garlic bread & fresh asparagus (we could eat fresh fish for the main course, right off the shore!); then top it off with your pudding, or eat the rasperries all by's going to be a blast when we all get together on this island. What did she say the date we're leaving was, again...!??

  10. I like your allotment choices, especially the garlic. I like the flower, I like the foliage, but I LOVE the food. I like eating roasted garlic smeared on good bread. It's a good thing my husband also really like garlic. :-) I never got around doing the original 6-plant list.

  11. Hi,
    You know I thought about garlic. I love the flavor, and it is so good for you, too. Asparagus. I would love to try that, but my home garden is a bit small. That would be a dream plant to have,though. I make a salsd drssing with a simple vinagrette, and then sprinkled with finely chopped egg and parsley.

  12. Hi there VP, my island ship is out on an evening cruise around the Islands ;-)

    Ah… I can smell which island is yours as I’m sailing past ;-) Garlic, an excellent choice! You’ve got me on the asparagus and rasps too. Ah… don’t worry about temps as all plants will grow on your island. Forgetting the three choices instead of six I am guessing that food plants were way harder to pick – excuse the pun :-D

  13. MMMM! Raspberries and asparagus are two of my favourite foods (not together, unless cold asparagus with a raspberry vinagrette?) so I love your choices.

  14. I'm pitching my tent next to your's. I love, love, love all three of your choices.

  15. VP, this is a very fun whimsical,yet practical post! It gave me a good giggle this evening!

  16. Wonderful choices! Asparagus...mmm!

  17. VP, decisions, decisions.. well I did think about suggesting cannabis to help while away the hours or possibly Barley, hops and yeast,you can see where I am going with that! But in reality I would go with the Raspberries, Tomatoes (Gardners delight) and Basil. Probably not the best diet in the world but a very enjoyable one!

  18. Yummy choices, all of them, and good thinking too on the cooking front. We do need to be able to whip up something nice in about half an hour flat. ;-)

    BTW my WV is boymet, hmmmmmm, does the pc know about my water feature?

  19. Hi everyone - glad you enjoyed this and are currently feasting on my suggested fare :)

    Most of you have posted your own version and I've visited you already to see the goodies you're bringing along with you. I think we're going to have a fun time on our desert island!

    The rest of you I'll visit after the weekend - in the meantime I have a spa appointment to keep with the girls - byeeee!

  20. Leave it to you, VP, to come up with a different twist on this challenge! It's been interesting to see all the choices--though I'm not even halfway through all of them:) The garlic would certainly make anything found on the island a little tastier, but I could live on asparagus and raspberries! Excellent choices.

  21. Some excellent choices there VP. I am sure that in the true spirit of allotmenteering that you would share your harvest with your island companions :)

  22. Hi Rose and Anna - thanks for stopping by and I'll head on over and look at what you have to say on the subject...


Your essential reads

Jack Go To Bed At Noon

Salad Days: Mastering Lettuce

Testing Times: Tomatoes

Chelsea Fringe 2014: Shows of Hands - Episode I

Things in unusual places #26: Rubber Ducks

The Resilient Garden

#mygardenrightnow: heading into summer with the Chelsea Fringe

Merry Christmas!

Introducing the #mygardenrightnow project

That blue flower: A spring spotter's guide