Sunday, 3 March 2019

January and February 2019

 New year, time to start gardening again,  beginning with a bit of replanting in my plant bowl.  Key is to pick small plants of different colours, it is very effective.

We have a short gardening year here, so I decided to start the tomato plants in a heated propagator in January to give them a head start. I followed these with chillies, cucumbers, peppers and courgettes. We had a couple of snowfalls so keeping them warm was key.

 Meanwhile, life continued in the ponds with snails and larvae ignoring the cold.

 This year I have added a cold frame and seed bed. I anticipate my tomatoes and peppers (sweet and chilli) going into the greenhouse early so will need more space to grow things on. This cold frame was cheap but did come without anything to anchor it to the ground so I made something out of old pegs from other constructions. It may look odd facing to the wall but it will be accessed from behind and the opening faces away from strong winds. The seed bed is next door, being under a tree and in the sun it is too dry to grow anything here long term.

We also cleared some new ground under an old compost heap. It has not been worked in decades, and we found plenty of rubbish, including a tin can and a large cow bone, well I hope it was cow! I also staked some trees which got knocked around last year in the wind.

Spring is moving on now, with flowers starting to appear. Potatoes, broad beans and shallots are started in the ground and the early rhubarb is coming on.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Review of 2018 on the Allotment

 This year has been hard physically due to the heat and the dryness but overall a good one for the plot. A very bad year for beans though, as they all struggled with the heat.
 I switched to a hard neck garlic this year after years of poor crops and it turned out well.  Good quality garlic though as it was in a very dry bed, I think it would have been better with more rain and more time so this time I have planted autumn garlic.
 First time growing leeks for some years, and they have done well, despite the dry weather.
 Onions did ok, but it was a little dry when they were growing and we could not give enough water so they were a little small.
 Our two ponds have settled in well and are now home to frogs, toads and newts.  We have had fewer slugs and snails this year as a result of this and the dry weather.  Hoping for frogspawn next year, we had a few baby newts this year!
 The carrots were grown behind mesh this year and have been excellent.
 Also a good year for beetroot, which enjoyed the dry weather.
 My first attempt at summer broccoli produced some small heads.  It was encouraging but I think I will need to work harder at it next year by liming the soil.
 A good year for fruit, no late frosts to kill blossom.  Bumper crops of plums, apples and currants.  Strawberries suffered with the dry weather and I had a lot of new and hence small plants.  Hopefully better next year.  Raspberries were very affected by the dry weather and produced very small fruit, much of it not worth picking so I have left it for the birds.
 In this part of the world you do not expect to have to water the potatoes but keeping them alive was a real challenge this year.  Even when we harvested them, the ground was bone dry beneath the top few inches.  Still, good crops which have lasted 3 months.
 Another experiment, cauliflower was fairly disastrous.  This is all I got so think I will forget this next year!
 We had a good crop of courgettes (some preserved here) of both green and yellow varieties.  Watering was a problem and they suffered with mildew. The marrows and pumpkins just didn't really get going due to the weather so a very poor crop.
In the greenhouse we had lots of cucumbers and tomatoes.  I tried multiple varieties of tomatoes as it was the first time we had used the greenhouse.  Results are as follows:;

Beefmaster F1 - enormous tomatoes but took forever to ripen and suffered from blossom end rot
Golden Crown Cherry (yellow) - good but took forever to get going
Gardeners Delight - good trusses but disappointing in quantity overall. 
Shirley F1 - ok
Sungold Cherry (orange)- very prolific, had tons of these
Moneymaker - good trusses but disappointing as took forever to ripen
Overall, what I have learned is that the plants producing large trusses of fruit can be very slow to ripen so I may look at other types next year.  But the hot summer also affected the plants negatively so we will see what next year brings.


The plums had a really good year, crates of the things! Little damage either, which was good.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Rain Finally

 The pond plants are flowering and we have had a lot of overdue rain which is most welcome.
Picked this monster beefsteak tomato which will certainly last more than one meal!

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Heatwave harvest

 This frog has been enjoying the cool water in our pond, as have the newts which have also taken up residence. The rest of us have been sweltering in the heat and, in my case, spending large amounts of time watering plants.

 The effort is paying off with the courgettes producing great fruit despite their extremely sunny location. By contrast, the early peas and beans struggled and have now died.
 The tomatoes have been loving the heat and the crop is set to go on for months, best year we have ever had, thanks to my little greenhouse.

This year I switched to a hardneck garlic, Lautrec Wight, instead of the softneck I had grown for years. We have had great weather so I might just have been lucky, but it is an excellent crop. Clearly at our northern latitude, hardneck is the way to go.