Real Men Sow

The Plot Plan 2013 – Part One

The Plot Plan for the coming growing season has become something of a tradition on the blog. It is one of my favourite posts to write, and my Plot Plan for 2011 remains the third most visited page in Real Men Sow history.


Back in 2011, I used Microsoft Excel, but while I like to think my gardening skills have progressed, it looks like my plot planning ones have gone in the opposite direction. I haven’t moved on to any of the fancy software I reviewed two years ago. For 2013’s plan, I’ve opted for good old fashioned paper, ruler and colouring pencils instead.


The plan is to a scale of 1cm : 1 foot, and I’m quite proud of it. It might well be the artiest thing I’ve ever done. A PDF of the plan can be viewed by clicking here.

Vertical Squashes
This year is different of course. I’m growing in my garden and not my allotment, so space is at a premium, and the veg you see on the plan have been prioritised for growing using my Veg Prioritisation Spreadsheet. I’ll be using a few new tactics to counter the reduced growing space too; the most ambitious of which is an attempt to grow squashes vertically.

Squashes have always done really well at the plot, but they take up lots of room. Some varieties, like butternut, can climb, so to save space I’m going to erect a structure parallel to the fence using some posts and canes I’ve salvaged from the allotment.

I’m quite nervous of failure with this method. We grow lots of squashes as they keep all through the winter, making them a staple in our house. I’m looking to get 6 plants along the 13ft long structure, with 3 outdoor cucumber plants growing up the last 3 foot.

Vertical Peas
Another space saving method I’ll be utilising is the trusty wigwam. Gardeners have been growing runner beans up wigwams since the year dot, but I’m going to try peas and mangetout this way too. I’ve had to look for climbing varieties, but I’ve decided on trying Telephone pea and Golden Sweet mangetout. Both plants grow to 6ft and are available from heritage seed supplier, Real Seeds.

Growing in Blocks and Successional Sowing
I’ve also done some research into the efficiency of growing in blocks, rather than rows. The theory is that you can cram more veg into blocks, so I’ve set my courgettes, beets, French and broad beans, pak choi and tomatoes out in this way. They might look a little like rows in the plan, but that’s because the compact nature of the space isn’t really reflected, and I’ll be planting successionally, rather than one big row.

I need to get on top of successional planting this year. In the past I’ve had the luxury of big beds, so I could just pop seeds in willy nilly. Now, French bean seedlings have got to be ready to go straight in after the broad beans finish, and pak choi needs to follow my first beetroot harvest.

Potato Options
I didn’t think I was going to have enough room for any potatoes, but the plan suggests I might get one row in. At the moment, I’m undecided whether to plant a row, or use the space for something else and try growing potatoes in florist buckets. Again, this space saving method is a new one on me, but if I did go down this road, I’d choose pink fir apple. They were very productive on the allotment in 2012, and I got an excellent harvest of potatoes per plant.

I’ve also left a gap in between where any potatoes might go and the pea wigwams. I’ve done this for a couple of reasons. As it is my first year, and I’m not completely confident of fitting everything in, I think it is a good idea to have a gap to fall back on. The French beans might grow wider than I thought, for example, pushing everything across a couple of feet.

I might also decide that I want more peas and runners than potatoes, and need the space for successional sowings of these veg. And as I’ve learnt from the allotment, there is always a chance veg you’ve grown on a whim that needs a home.

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  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!January 15, 2013 at 11:56 pmReply

    Wonderful! One of the things I’ve been wondering about your garden is which way is south — should I assume that up is north in this plan?

    I expect you’ll find the space to be jam-packed come summer. I can’t wait to see it!

  2. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » The Plot Plan 2013 – Part TwoJanuary 16, 2013 at 7:17 pmReply

    [...] The Plot Plan 2013 – Part One [...]

  3. Jono

    JonoJanuary 16, 2013 at 7:21 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Alan,

    Up is towards the east, but the garden still gets a good dose of sun during the day.

    I can’t wait either. I’ve got a nice view over the garden from the baby’s nursery, so I look forward to watching the sun rise over the plot whilst looking after junior!

  4. wellywomanJanuary 18, 2013 at 2:47 pmReply

    Loving the plan. Haven’t got round to doing mine yet and I’m a paper and pencil girl myself. I grew uchiki kuri squash last year up a wigwam. They were happy enough to climb up it and we did get 2 squashes but the weather meant they really struggled. I really love your idea about training them along the panel next to the fence. I’m definitely doing squashes again but don’t have the space to grow them on the ground so mine will be grown upwards too. Successional sowing is a hard one to crack. Even when I’m super organised the weather conspires against me. Lets hope this year it’s kinder to us, for once.

  5. Jono

    JonoJanuary 18, 2013 at 9:28 pmReplyAuthor

    That’s useful to know about the uchiki squash WW. They’re a lovely looking squash.

    I’ve seen lots of good tentacles on the normal butternuts, so fingers crossed they’ll climb well.

    Squashes are so great to grow for many reasons: attractive, expensive to buy, good keepers.

  6. Jon DaviesMarch 22, 2013 at 7:01 pmReply

    Interested to know how you plan to grow the Pak Choi outside – I have only ever grown them hydroponically in a polytunnel but have thought they may be as good outside.

    Are you protecting them from the wildlife in some way?

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 22, 2013 at 7:24 pmReplyAuthor

      Hey Jon.

      I’ve only ever grown them outside. I don’t sow until July and they’ve always grown fine. Sown them both directly and in pots to plant out too.

      I’ve never needed to protect them but there are more snails in my garden than on the allotment so might have to this year.

      They’re hardy and often last into winter.

      • Jon DaviesMarch 22, 2013 at 8:57 pmReply

        Thanks for the feedback. Will follow their progress with interest.!

  7. JonoMarch 22, 2013 at 9:01 pmReply

    They don’t like the heat much, so its best to leave late. Looking back, I sowed mine on July 19th last year.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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