What Worked and What Didn’t In My 2023 Garden

My first year of growing veggies has overwhelmingly been a success. When I tell you I would have been happy with a single tomato, I really mean it. I went into my first garden season with the lowest expectations, I just wanted to try things and have fun, and that is definitely what happened!

Mostly I relied on the advice of a few TikTok accounts, an RHS gardening book I nabbed in TKMaxx and my Nan’s knowledge!

For reference we live in Zone 8b and had a fairly mediocre summer, the high heats came in May and June, July and August never really broke 23 degrees, so I’m definitely attributing some of my luck to that.


Outdoor Girl Tomatoes. I had six tomato plants this year and I went with six different varieties. An experiment of sorts. The Outdoor Girl variety is known for being a great beginner tomato plant, highly productive and fairly disease resistant. It’s also widely available in most garden centres, in seed or starter form. Mine was definitely my most productive plant, it was the first to fruit and kept going til early October, so a good crowd pleaser. I think I had over 50 tomatoes from this one plant, so it’s definitely one I will grow again.

Ira Cucumbers. I had zero expectations when it came to growing cucumbers, my nan (who has the greenest thumb I know) told me she’d never had any luck growing them here, so I planted every seed in the pack expecting a few to germinate, one or two to mature and none to actually fruit. I was SO wrong. Every single seed we planted grew into a healthy adult plant, I was giving them away to everyone. Next year I will definitely succession sow these as I found they would all fruit at the same time, and then I’d have nothing for two weeks before they all fruited again. The Ira variety is a smaller cucumber, super tasty and again all the plants fruited through til early October! Next year I’m hoping to pickle some if we have the same success!

Polenza Radishes. Everyone told me radishes were a good confidence boost to grow. With just a 28 day grow time I was told they were a good idiot proof seed to start with. That certainly seems to be true, but again I need to work on my succession planting because they were all ready at once. I also don’t really know what to use them for, they aren’t a vegetable I really buy, so any recommendations I’m all ears!

Rhubarb Chard. This was a bit of a random grow for me, I’d literally never cooked chard before in my life, but it grew so well and is so pretty with its red stalks! I definitely just threw some seeds in a pot and hoped for the best but we had a continual supply of it all through the summer, and it was ready to eat a couple of weeks after seeding. We’ve been loving it in currys!

Sweet Aperatif Tomatoes. I’m fifty fifty on growing this again because I feel like the tomatoes are so small it’s not worth it, but my Sweet Aperatif cherry tomato plant has been steadily productive all season, and they are by far the tastiest of the varieties I grew. Most of them didn’t make it out of the greenhouse because snacking on these straight off the vine is heaven.

Spring Onions. I can’t quite explain why it bought me so much joy to grow these, but it really did. They never got quite as thick as the supermarket one, but every seed sprouted and made it to maturity. They’ve been a super tasty addition to our summer salads, soups and everything else! Bonus points for not taking up much room in the veggie beds too! Definitely one to plant in spare spaces you have, a good gap filler that deters pests with it’s scent too.

Roma Tomatoes. I really thought I’d messed these up because they took SO LONG to ripen. We didn’t have our first lot until the beginning of August, they were full size and green for so long. But after that I was able to make four litres of tomato sauce which we used in soups, pasta dishes and chilli! I freeze the last batch of sauce to use over winter. Next year I’ll definitely do a few more of these in the hopes I’ll be able to jar some sauce!


Tigerella Tomatoes. I feel bad saying these were just okay, because they taste SO good and the ones we have had have been great. But I felt like this plant just didn’t produce many fruits at all? My best guess is that this is because I had this plant in the middle of a grow bag and it just needed more space, so I’ll be trying this one again next year but in it’s own pot.

Tumbling Tom Tomatoes. Again, this one’s on me for forgetting what variety it was and putting it in a grow bag. This really stunted their growth since they couldn’t really trail properly. These were super tasty and I think I’ll do them in hanging baskets next year!

White Onion starters. Picked up from our local plant nursery, I had very little faith in these after how badly my onion seeds went (see below). I only had a handful but they grew so well and tasted SO much better than store ones. Minus points for the fact they take a lot of room for little pay off, and they didn’t get as big as some of them I’ve seen on Instagram!

Lambs Lettuce. This grew fantastically, but it loses points for the fact that the soil I grew it in also decided to grow weeds that looked exactly like the lettuce, until I got so stressed I stopped eating it at all. Next year I’m doing lettuce that looks more like lettuce and not like a generic plant!

Parsnips. I’m actually pretty proud of my parsnips, pulling them out of the ground was a real I’m a farmer moment. But, they weren’t particularly big. I’m not sure if I pulled them too early or if the soil was too dense for them, but I’ll definitely do a bit more research before planting my next lot.

Coriander. My coriander grew so well, but bolted really early in the season, so if anyone has any experience with slow to bolt varieties, I’m all ears!

Scarlet Kale. This grew really well but the slugs have just loved it, and I can’t seem to keep them off it, so any slug tips welcome, I feel like I’ve tried everything!


Brandy Wine Heritage Tomatoes. I got three tomatoes on the whole plant, and two of them were green right the way through til September. I truly have no idea why, so I probably won’t attempt this variety again, which is a shame since they are GORGEOUS.

Everlasting Onions. These were kinda hilarious. I planted these and about six weeks later had tiny little grass-like shoots which died within the week. Nope, big fail.

Garlic. Don’t talk to me about this I’m still moody about it. I got not one bulb of garlic this year and I planted close to a hundred. I’m taking comfort in the fact my nan’s garlic failed too, when she’s had super successful crops in previous years, so I think this is probably a weather thing rather than anything else. I’ll be trying again next year because garlic = life, so fingers crossed that goes better.

Potatoes. This one wasn’t a COMPLETE fail, but lets say Tiktok made it look way easier than it was. I got a modest haul of new potatoes, but nowhere near as many as I should have, and a lot of them were quite literally pea sized.

Corn. Look my expectations were low for this. I plonked them in a planter and let them do their own thing. So imagine my surprise when I ended up with a veritable corn field! Sadly, the earwigs got to all the corn before me, so I’ll be trying these again but not til I’ve fortified my earwig defences.

Carrots. Damn carrot fly. Will look into better companion planting for these next year.

Let me know if you want to hear more about my 2024 garden plans!