Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust

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What Vegetables Grow Well in Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal?

Growing vegetables near the picturesque Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal can be a rewarding experience. With its fertile soil and unique microclimate, this area provides an ideal environment for cultivating a myriad of nutritious veggies. In this article, we will explore some of the best vegetables that thrive along this beautiful waterway.

Climate and Soil Conditions

Temperature Requirements

In Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, most vegetables thrive in moderate temperatures. To grow your vegetables successfully, pay attention to the seasonal changes. Early spring is an ideal time to plant cool-season vegetables like:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

As the weather warms up, you can start planting warm-season vegetables like:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Beans

Remember to keep an eye on the forecast and protect your vegetables from unexpected frosts or extreme heat.

Soil Types

Understanding soil types is essential for growing healthy vegetables in Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. The area generally has a fertile and well-draining soil, perfect for most vegetables. Here are a few tips on preparing your soil:

  1. Test your soil: Get a soil test kit to determine pH levels and nutrient deficiencies. Ideally, vegetable gardens should have a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
  2. Amend your soil: If needed, add organic matter to improve the structure and fertility of your soil. Incorporate well-rotted manure or compost into your garden plot.
  3. Drainage: Make sure your garden has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. You can improve drainage by adding organic matter or creating raised beds.

Vegetable Types Grown

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and lettuce flourish in the moist and mild climate provided by the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal region. Their high tolerance for damp conditions makes them a great choice for your garden. When planting:

  • Choose varieties suited for the local climate
  • Space out the plants to improve air circulation
  • Harvest leaves regularly to stimulate healthy growth

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, and turnips also grow well in this region. These vegetables prefer loose, well-draining soil, which can be found along the canal. To ensure a bountiful harvest:

  • Loosen the soil thoroughly before planting
  • Give each plant ample space to develop fully
  • Thin seedlings as necessary to reduce competition for nutrients

Fruiting Vegetables

Fruiting vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, may require a little extra care to thrive in the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal area, but the results are worth it. Take the following steps to ensure healthy fruiting vegetables:

  • Provide a warm, sunny spot for optimal growth
  • Regularly check for pests and diseases
  • Stake or trellis plants to keep fruits off the ground and prevent rot

Planting and Harvesting Seasons

Spring Planting

In Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, spring is an excellent time to start planting your vegetables. Be sure to begin with cool-season veggies like kale, spinach, lettuce, and radishes. You can start planting these when the soil temperature reaches around 4°C (40°F). As the weather begins to warm up, you can transition to planting other vegetables, such as carrots, beets, and peas.

Autumn Planting

Autumn in the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal area offers another opportunity to plant a variety of vegetables. During this time, focus on planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables can tolerate the cooler temperatures and even frost, making them perfect for the autumn season. Start planting these in late summer or early autumn to allow for enough growth time before the winter.

Harvesting Time

Harvesting times will vary based on the vegetables you’ve chosen and the planting seasons. Here’s a general guideline for harvesting some popular vegetables:

  • Kale, spinach, lettuce, and radishes – Early spring to late autumn
  • Carrots and beets – Late spring until frost
  • Peas – Late spring to early summer
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts – Autumn until winter

Remember to keep track of your planting dates and the average days to maturity for each vegetable so you can plan for efficient harvesting. Also, don’t forget to enjoy your delicious, homegrown produce!

Adequate Water Supply

Irrigation Methods

When growing vegetables along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, it’s essential to provide an adequate water supply. One effective method you can use is drip irrigation. This system slowly releases water near the roots of your plants, ensuring they receive enough moisture while conserving water.

Another approach is the furrow irrigation method, which involves creating small channels between your rows of vegetables. This technique helps to guide water towards the root zone and avoid unnecessary wastage. Remember, using an efficient irrigation method not only makes your gardening successful but also keeps the surrounding environment healthy.

Canal Water Usage

Access to canal water can greatly benefit your vegetable garden. However, keep in mind that you need to use the water responsibly to maintain a positive environmental impact. Here are some tips to use canal water efficiently:

  • Always obtain the necessary permissions and licenses before using canal water for irrigation.
  • Respect the water usage regulations; they are put in place to maintain the ecosystem.
  • Monitor your water usage and find ways to reduce it, such as using water-saving irrigation methods.

Maintaining Healthy Plants

Fertilizers and Amendments

Fertilizers help provide essential nutrients to your plants, ensuring they grow strong and healthy. Here are a few recommendations for maintaining a flourishing vegetable garden:

  • Organic matter: Incorporating compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold into your soil can improve the nutrient content and overall structure.
  • Slow-release fertilizer: Choose a balanced, slow-release fertilizer that provides a steady supply of nutrients over time. Follow the package instructions for application rates and timing.
  • Liquid feeds: Supplement with liquid seaweed or fish emulsion every few weeks for an extra boost, especially during the growing season.

According to BGN, remember to test your soil every beginning of the year to determine nutrient levels and adjust your fertilization practices accordingly.

Pest Management

Pests can be a major challenge when growing vegetables. To protect your plants without resorting to harsh chemicals, consider these effective methods:

  • Cultural practices: Start with proper spacing, watering, and mulching to create a healthy growing environment that’s less attractive to pests.
  • Physical barriers: Protect your plants with row covers or netting to deter pests like cabbage moths and birds.
  • Beneficial insects: Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings to inhabit your garden by planting flowers that attract them.
  • Organic pesticides: As a last resort, use organic pesticides like neem oil or insecticidal soap to control stubborn pest populations.

Community Gardening in Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

There are many community gardens in the area where you can get involved and grow your own vegetables.

One such garden is the Llanfoist Community Garden, which is located near Abergavenny. This garden is run by volunteers and is open to the public. You can rent a plot of land and grow your own vegetables, or you can help out with the communal areas. The garden is a great place to meet like-minded people and learn more about gardening.

Another community garden in the area is the Crickhowell Community Garden. This garden is located in the heart of Crickhowell and is run by volunteers. The garden has a range of vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs that you can help to maintain. The garden also has a seating area where you can relax and enjoy the surroundings.

If you’re interested in organic gardening, the Llanover Organic Garden is the place for you. This garden is located near Abergavenny and is run by a team of volunteers. The garden has a range of vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs that are grown using organic methods. You can help to maintain the garden and learn more about organic gardening.

Educational Programs

In addition to participating in local gardening clubs, there are educational programs available to help you improve your gardening skills. Several nearby organizations offer courses and workshops tailored specifically to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal environment. Consider attending workshops on topics such as:

  • Vegetable gardening for beginners: Learn the basics of growing a successful vegetable garden, including how to select the best plants, prepare your soil, and care for your crops throughout the season.
  • Organic gardening: Discover eco-friendly gardening techniques, such as composting, natural pest control, and how to grow vegetables without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
  • Water-wise gardening: Find out how to use water efficiently, minimizing waste while still keeping your plants healthy and productive.


Your vegetable garden along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal can be a bountiful and rewarding endeavor. By choosing the right vegetables that are known to grow well in the region, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh, home-grown produce.

Remember to keep your garden well-tended, ensuring the soil has the right nutrients and that your plants receive enough water. With a bit of effort, your Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal vegetable garden will flourish, providing you with a delightful and healthy harvest.

Happy gardening!

Mon & Brec Canal – Heaven for wildlife spotters

If you’re an avid wildlife spotter, then a visit to the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is a must-visit. Better known as the Mon & Brec Canal, the park is one of the most beautiful with peaceful waterways. The canal is one of the best locations in Britain for spotting wildlife. The canal passes through the Brecons Beacons National Park and remains home to UK’s rarest animals. This is another reason to visit the area.

While this area in South Wales underwent an Industrial Revolution, the upper section of the Mon & Brec Canal did not experience much commercial success. The beauty of the area saw some restoration done in the 1960s. It is now one of the best and beautiful cruising waterways in the UK. You can easily cruise through the canal without much traffic even at the height of the season.

The canal covers most of its route in the Brecons National Park where you enjoy the outstanding natural beauty. The 35-mile canal follows tree-lined courses of the River Usk. This location is a heaven for wildlife spotters, walkers, nature-lovers, and cyclists. There is a lot to explore and enjoy.

What you can expect to see on your holiday in Mon & Brec Canal ?


There are rare birds in the canal making this location an exciting choice for birders. Some of the birds to see include the herons, moorhens, mallards, kingfishers, and swans. If you’re lucky, you can even spot the rare lapwing. The lapwing breeds and roosts on the farmland, grassland, and moorland. The lapwing is easily spotted by the iridescent green coloring on the back, head, and crests. It also produces a distinctive peewit call.

However, be sure to carry a birding binocular to experience these birds from your kayak or boat. There are just a wide array of bird species to watch in this beautiful location.


There are also beautiful insects flying by the canal banks. Among the insects to see include the dragonfly and butterflies. You can also be lucky and spot the rare Marsh Fritillary buttery.

Amphibians and fish

 The Usk River is also a habitat for fish and amphibians. You can see frogs and toads on the river bank. Along the hedges and log piles, you can spot crested newts.  You might also be lucky and see the white-clawed crayfish. There is a lot to see whether on a boat or simply walking by the banks of the river.


 Lastly, you can be sure of seeing some of the rarest mammals along the canal. Otters are easily seen along the river banks. The otters are easily spotted in River Usk with just a short walk. You can also see an otter track which has a five-toed paw print.

Near the river grasslands, you can see the rare brown hares. As you walk along, you can also spot the yellow-orange furred dormice. However, be sure to watch from a distance and never disturb them. This area is also blessed with one of Britain’s endangered species, the water vole. Sometimes, sightings are rare but worth it if you’re lucky.

This is not the end when it comes to viewing mammals. If you happen to be a bat lover, then the Usk Valley is your perfect location. You can also see noctules, greater horseshoe bats, and tiny pipistrelles.

Other interesting scenes to see in Mon and Brec Canal

Apart from wildlife, there is a lot more to see and enjoy in the Mon & Brec Canal. While the Canal is fairly short, it is full of engineering ingredients. There are many fine stone bridges, a fine four arch masonry, and a number of lift bridges along the route. You can also enjoy some short tunnels giving you lasting memories.

In some of the places, you can see places where the feeder narrow gauge tramways bought their limestone, coal, and iron ore. This is a canal full of wildlife, amazing scenes, and rich history. The disused lime kilns are clearly visible down to the canal wharves. There are several canal lifts that were built when the canal was undergoing restoration. You can even ride in an electrically powered lift bridge.

Activities to do in the Mon & Brec Canal

Apart from spotting wildlife and enjoying the great scenes, there are several activities to do in the area. You can hire a bicycle for a great day of biking. Cycling as a group is a fun activity to enjoy in the area and one cycling lovers must try. You can also enjoy some horse riding and a kayak or boat ride.

Visiting the region also gives you a chance to explore nearby communities and enjoy some local diets. There are also excellent eateries and entertainment spots nearby to have a great time. Walks along the canal are common with canal side pubs, craft centers, and museums.

What to bring on a backpacking trip?

Deciding on what to bring on a backpacking trip can be quite challenging. In most cases, you find yourself with a small backpack and a lot of things to carry. However, you don’t have to carry everything that you think you might need. You must first decide on the essentials and what you can do without.

Deciding on what to bring starts with knowing where to visit and how many days you will camp. Is the place remote and how is the weather forecast? The more remote the place is, the more food, clothing, and gear you will need. The camping tent you bring is also determined by the place you will camp and weather conditions there.

Below, we discuss some of the main things to bring on a backpacking trip.

Backpack with rain cover

A quality backpack is among the first essentials to buy. This is where you’re going to fit all your gear, food, clothing and other personal items. You can prepare for a backpacking trip without a backpacker. Make sure you choose a waterproof backpack or one that comes with a rain cover. This will help protect your gear, food, and clothing from water leakages in case of rainfall.
There are varieties of backpacks out there to choose from. Make sure you choose one that is comfortable to carry, extremely durable and well-designed. You can go for a small backpack or a bigger one depending on the number of items you plan to carry. This again depends on the number of days you plan to camp. However, always aim to pack light.

Backpacking tent

A backpacking tent will provide you with shelter on your campsite. Again, there are varieties of tents to choose from. You can choose a 1-person, 2-person, 3-person or 4-person capacity depending on the number of people on the trip. If you plan to camp as a group, each person can carry their backpack and a tent. The choice usually comes down to what best works for you.

You also need to consider the season of the year and choose a matching tent. Some ultralight backpacking tents are designed for a 2-seasons while others serve well in all 4 seasons.

Food checklist

Did you know food tastes better when on trips? The reason might be more hunger due to long hiking and trekking days in the wild. When it comes to packing food, you need to consider the number of persons on the trip and the days you will spend on the trip. In addition, consider the distance of the camping site from the nearest shops.

You can choose two categories of food. Go with instant foods that require no preparation since they come in handy when hungry. You can also choose foods that require preparation like powdered sauce and pasta. It is always good to have options when it comes to your food choices. You also need to carry drinking water with you. However, remember you will need water for bathing, washing clothes and preparing food. So, make sure you don’t camp further away from a water source.

Clothing checklist

This is one area where people tend to mess and add unnecessary weight to their camping trip. You only need to bring two or at most three sets of clothing on your trip. However, make sure you have enough socks and underwear every day. One set of cloth is for sleeping and is the only set the needs to remain fresh and clean.
When it comes to hiking or trekking in the woods, you have to do with a single set or two at most. After all, there is no need to wear fresh clothes only to sweat after a few minutes.

Hygiene and toiletries

Toiletries might seem small but usually take a lot of space and are quite heavy. Toiletries like deodorants, makeup and shampoo are useless on your trip and occupy unnecessary space on your backpack. Go with basic things like toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, wipes, and sunscreen. There is no point looking all fresh in the backcountry.


While some people think this is an unnecessary waste of space, photography gears are necessary. What is the point of a backpacking trip if you cannot bring some memory home with you? Make sure you have a small camera and a solar charger with you.

Medical checklist

It is worth packing a small first-aid kit with you and some basic medicines. Get a pre-assembled first aid kit with personal medicines such as asthma inhalers. You can also add painkillers, disinfectants, mosquito repellent, bandages, etc. You don’t want a small headache running your day just because you didn’t carry some painkillers.

Final verdict

In conclusion, the best advice when it comes to backpacking is to pack light. You only need to carry the essentials. Carrying a heavy backpack is an added inconvenience that ends up making the trip boring and tiring.