If the point of this blog was to keep an ongoing record of how things were going in the allotment, it has not been a rousing success. As it turns out, Instagram has been a lot easier to jot down what is happening on a week by week basis. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to look back with Instagram like I would like to, but at least it’s something. I thought it was still a good idea to reflect back on what has gone well and poorly in the allotment this year, so that I’m not tempted to make the same mistakes next year…
This would be a classic case of having a really good year last year, then deciding to change everything I was doing. So silly. This year I tried growing Orange Banana, Jen’s Tangerine, Fiancello, plus a couple of things from the allotment sale. None were a great success. The Orange Banana suffered from a lot of blossom end rot, and I had a lot of splitting in general. This was probably down to the fact that the automatic waterer ran out of battery just as I went to Utrecht for a week in July. Always check! I didn’t grow Grushkova this year and that was a mistake. I really need an early tomato in this climate. I’m still harvesting in October, so that’s something, but the harvest overall has been a bit paltry.
I had both rust and white rot on the garlic this year. Still managed to harvest quite a few heads, though. I foolishly thought the rust would resolve itself, and I really should have cut back the rusty bits a lot earlier. I wonder if this is just going to be a chronic thing on the allotment and if I should just try to do garlic in the back garden instead?
I grew Royal Burgundy bush beans and a single plant of runner beans that I picked up at the allotment sale. The bush beans were terrific–delicious and prolific. I put a second planting in in August, but the initial planting kept me in beans for ages. They were annoying to pick, so I am considering trying pole beans instead next year. But I need to remember how much I like these. The runner beans were fine–didn’t produce much, but they weren’t much trouble either. I may try to plant these for realsies next year–probably Czar from Real Seeds.
I grew Dazzling Blue. It is, indeed, dazzling, especially with the purple cosmos and the the rhubarb. Too bad it needs to be moved next year. The taste was good if not amazing, but it was super easy to grow. It is supposed to benefit from a bit of cold, so I’m hoping it will be amazing during the winter harvest. I need to think about planning this out as a winter crop. I also managed to get two plants of Daubenton kale! These have established themselves reasonably well, even if they haven’t really grown that much yet.
In an effort to get ever more perennial vegetables in play, I started some artichokes from seed this year (Artichoke Tavor). Six went into the allotment. I’ve gotten a decent harvest this year, and hope they continue to produce next year! I do need to develop some better artichoke recipes…
I need to remember that my asparagus comes up later than everyone else’s! I started to panic this year when everyone on Instagram had spears coming through and I didn’t. It’s just that I have a late variety, I guess. I haven’t actually harvested anything yet, but hopefully next year?
Put in a lot of Joan J, plus two golden raspberries from Phil. They all seem to have established really well, so hopefully raspberries next year!
Bit of a disaster. Supposedly an everbearing variety (Calypso?), but I only saw berries in the spring. They weren’t that good and they tended to get mouldy. I probably didn’t have the plants spaced far enough apart. Not sure if I’ll rip them all up and start over with a different variety, or just pull about half of them and see if the increased space helps at all.
Moved one of the white currant plants from behind the greenhouse to the side. It got stripped of its currants by the birds pretty quickly, though. Same for the gooseberry I moved. Perhaps it would be sensible to think about how to deal with this for next year? The other two new gooseberries look like they’re establishing pretty well so far. Phil gave me five blackcurrant plants as well (rooted cuttings, really) that I need to find a permanent home for this winter.
So, I’m apparently the only person in the whole world who is incapable of growing a bumper crop of swiss chard. Mine always seems to go rusty and a little weird looking, and there isn’t much of it. It’s reasonably edible, but I have yet to crack the code on this.
After a great first year with lettuce, this year was a bit hit or miss. I had trouble with germination this year, so didn’t really manage to get much in the ground early. Everything I put in bolted way too fast. Cimmaron was gorgeous, but bolted much too quickly for the quantity I had planted. I tried putting in a late planting of that specked trout lettuce and that’s just kind of sat there. Maybe I just got cocky last year and I need to pay more attention to varieties and whatnot next year? It seems like it was a decent summer for it (which is to say, it was grey and miserable all summer…)
I grew Carouby mange touts this year and they were great–prolific, easy and delicious. The only thing is that I might want more of them? I might try a purple podded variety next year to make picking a bit easier, but this should be in addition to Carouby not instead of!
I thought I would plant some cut flowers in the garden this year. Lesson learned: cosmos is gorgeous but huge! I only need a few plants of it, and I really need to give them room to grow. They squished the cornflowers they were going next to, as well as the baby rhubarb. They started blooming a lot later than the cornflowers, but are still going so seem worth it for that reason alone. The cornflowers were nice and early, but got some sort of powdery mildew, especially once they were crowded out by the cosmos. The alstroemeria was great–I didn’t bother picking it last year, but you can just really go at and it bounces back. Too bad I don’t actually like the colour! I should try to get another variety, as it is just so easy to grow and use as a cut flower. Next year, I should invest a bit more time in thinking about varieties.
Cukes and squash:
I want these crops to work so badly. This year I grew Crystal Apple and Marketmore cucumbers. I got a couple of decent cukes off of Marketmore, but only some sad, twisty things from Crystal Apple. I was trying to grow them up the trellising, which may have been part of the mistake? At any rate, I will try to go back to the Salt and Pepper cucumbers that worked so well for me last year.
The squash harvest is non-existent as of this writing, which is pretty depressing. I think I’ll have a couple tiny ones off of Hokkaido, and one small Sibley. But that’s nothing compared to last year. I think this is partly down to having a bad year for it–very little sunshine–but also that I placed them poorly. I didn’t really think about it at the time, but they were on a sort of mini-slope that faced north. Not next year!
Planted some Pink Fir potatoes, did nothing with them in terms of hilling up etc (because, let’s be honest, I just don’t care that much about potatoes). I’ve dug a few up, and they were good, but I’m not sure I understand what the fuss is about. But maybe I’m just not a potato person?
Managed to get beets to grow this year (starting from seed was key), but I have to acknowledge that I just don’t really feel like eating beets in the summer. I really think of them as a winter crop, but I keep on planting them in the summer and then letting them just sit there. A golden one got big and kind of ugly and I don’t think it can be eaten anymore, though the beet greens are gorgeous. I should try to figure out when best to plant these so that I will actually use and enjoy them.