Wisley Vegetable Garden gets a Makeover

Exciting times in the Veg. Garden this year!

Established in the Sixties, the Veg. Garden has remained almost unchanged for all this time. This season we have decided to make some major changes to the layout of the beds with the addition of some permanent structures, the aim is to add a vertical dimension to the area and to break up the monotony of straight rows of vegetables.

ground preparation Wisley Vegetable Garden gets a Makeover

Ground preparation has now been completed in the two areas at the center of the Veg. garden, the old raised beds have been removed from the top half of the central area. Along the two main paths five arches on each sides are being installed, and, the beds will be dotted by metal obelisks and wigwams created using natural materials such as birch and hazel branches.

Flowering climbers are to be grown over the obelisks to add a splash of colour and an exotic feel, we have selected Ipomea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’, Eccremocarpus scaber ‘Tresco Mixed’, and Rhodochiton astrosanguineum ‘Purple Bell’.

Courgette ‘Black Forest’ is a productive cultivar, suitable to be grown on the wigwams thanks to its trailing habit.

Trailing squashes and miniature pumpkins have been chosen for the arches as well as some unusual cucurbits, rarely grown in this country.

Cyclanthera pedata, commonly known as “achocha”, is a very vigorous climber belonging to the same family as gourds and squashes. It is a Central American vegetable, very easy to grow and the numerous tiny flowers are loved by bees. The fruits are harvested very young, when they reach about five centimeters in length, and taste like cucumbers when eaten raw. They acquire a delicious taste of roasted green peppers when stir fried.

Another exotic climber used to cover the arches is Sicana odorifera. Native to tropical South America, it produces reddish brown fruits up to sixty centimeters that look like cucumbers, with a delicious taste of melon and can be used fresh or used for preserves.  The yellow flowers also have a sweet fragrance.

seedling in glasshouse3 Wisley Vegetable Garden gets a Makeover

The Wisley glasshouse is full of healthy seedlings ready to be planted out, some very attractive varieties of coloured lettuces such as ‘Amaze’ and ‘Pigale’, celery ‘Octavius’ and celeriac ‘Monarch’, and a selection of allium crops including chives, pickling onions, early leeks, and mammoth onions.

Summer cabbage ‘Dutchman’, a reliable pointed cultivar ready for harvesting from mid-June, has been planted on the allotment plot as well as cauliflower ‘Clapton’ and calabrese ‘Ironman’

Very soon the crops to be grown in the glasshouses will be ready for planting, our cucumbers have almost reached the two leaves stage and will be planted in the “Classic” glasshouse in the next couple of weeks.

An additional couple of weeks are required for the tomato plants to be ready for the “Wisley” glasshouse. We usually plant tomatoes when the first flowers are beginning to open. This season we are growing a selection of varieties including both cherry and salad tomatoes. 

Wisley Vegetable Garden gets a Makeover

The patio area is also being rejuvenated with new furniture and a display of vegetable crops and flowering plants grown in pots, the idea is to inspire visitors to grow crops even when space is limited or in urban settings.

The focal point would be the crab apples that will provide interest with the blossom, the fruits and autumn colour with the foliage. The vegetables to be grown in pots have been selected for their attractiveness as well as taste.

Mario De Pace