Wow, I just realised I haven’t written on here for at least a year! If we needed any evidence of why I’m not the next Alys Fowler, I guess we have it.
So, how did this year go? And what would I do differently/the same next year?
Weather this year: It was hot and dry for a lot of this summer. That made it great to grow the North American crops I love, but a bit challenging in terms of keeping everying watered for the course of the summer.
I need to remember to grow tomatoes properly. I need to give them good support early on (maybe make some American-style tomato cages?) and pinch out the suckers. This year I just let them grow like crazy, and it was probably not the best idea in terms of harvesting. I grew some plants outside and some in this year; some of the outside plants were in pots. The outside plants in the ground did surprisingly well, but not the ones in the pots. I might have to think about a different strategy for greenhouse growing, like possibly getting the capillary based feeders that are so ridiculously expensive.
Galina: I have found my must have, will never be without tomato, and it is Galina. This tomato started producing early, is still producing now in mid-October, and stays well on the vine, so it doesn’t mind if it doesn’t get picked for a while. They’re tasty little things and they grew pretty well both outside and in. I probably don’t need quite as many next year, as there’s only so much you can do with cherry tomatoes, but I should never be without at least a couple plants.
Jen’s Tangerine: I grew this the first year I had the allotment, and then for some reason forgot to grow it last year. That was dumb. This is a great tomato. I just grew this one in the greenhouse, but it produced consistently over the season and it tastes terrific.
Latah: A total bust for me. Barely produced at all, either inside or outside. The fruit was okay, but sort of strangely shaped. Perhaps if I started it earlier I could get the super-early tomatoes everyone always seems so excited about with this variety?
Green Zebra: Did okay in the greenhouse. These tasted good and were pretty. It’s worth growing a couple plants, just to have them look nice on sandwiches.
Skynomish: Didn’t produce until the very end of the season. I screwed up with these by not providing enough support, so a lot of them ended up on the ground. They were okay, but nothing special. Probably not worth growing next year.
For next year: I’d like to add a proper sauce tomato to the mix, in order to can some tomato sauce for the winter. I think Sunrise Sauce is probably the variety I want to go with, but that will mean a lot of orange tomatoes. But I might be okay with that.
I grew two varieties this year: Miniature White and a Wautoma that a friend at the allotment gave me. Miniature White was definitely the better cuke for me–produced slow and steady over the season. I might go back to the Salt and Pepper cucumbers I grew last year, though–they were very nice and might be a bit more disease resistant?
It was a good year for squash. I grew Hokkaido, Sweet Meat, Sibley and Galeaux d’Eysines. They all did pretty well. Sweet Meat only produced one largish squash on the one vine, but it produced early and ripened early. Hokkaido grew a number of smaller squash on the two vines, and ripened nice and early. I didn’t get Sibley in until late, but it still managed to produce quite a large squash. It isn’t clear if this was 100% ripe when I brought it in, so I’m worried about storage. But it was so delicious when I grew it two years ago that I don’t really mind. I didn’t really think Galeaux would do well here, but I’ve got about two large fruits per vine. It didn’t set fruit or ripen until quite late, so I don’t know how it would do in a normal winter.
This may be temporary, but I feel like I’ve figured out what I really need in terms of beans. I grew Cosse Violette pole beans and Royal Burgundy bush beans. I grew Royal Burgundy last year, and they were a winner then too. They start early and produce steadily. They don’t require a lot of work. Cosse Violette starts a bit later, when Royal Burgundy is slowing down a little. I pretty much had beans for months and months. Also, the Cosse Violette beans stayed okay on the vine while I went to visit my family in August. This wasn’t ideal, and I think it slowed down production in the long term, but they were certainly still edible.
I also grew runner beans (Czar) in attempt to be more British. I don’t really get runner beans. They seem so self-evidently less delicious than pole beans. I decided to just collect the beans and dry them this year, which has gone okay. I’m not sure if that’s worth doing for next year.
I failed to get the peas in the ground in time this year, and didn’t get much of a crop. Might be worth switching up varieties next year–perhaps something a bit more colourful.
The raspberries (Joan J) developed some ugliness about half-way through the season this year. They looked diseased and the canes started dying with fruit still on. I think it might affect next year’s early crop. Still not sure what caused it, or how to prevent it next year. Still managed to get a nice, long, steady crop of raspberries. The yellow variety that Phil gave me is not working out brilliantly–I should probably tear it out for next year.
The birdies completely stripped my gooseberry crop before I had a chance to get at it myself this year. I had a hard time getting mad, since it was a rough year for wildlife.
The artichokes produced this year, but the plants looked really unhappy. Perhaps they need to go someplace else? Or maybe I need to start over with a new variety that’s a bit more robust/perennial?
Things I failed to grow:
I failed to get in any leeks, shallots or kale this year. I will definitely be feeling it this winter. Last year I had so many leeks that I didn’t every need to worry about having enough. This year, nothing. The lack of kale is similarly bothersome, although my perennial kale has survived and I think I will be okay to harvest some of that this year.
For reasons I still can’t understand, I failed to grow much in the way of lettuce or chard this year. I love my leafy greens, so that is quite frustrating.