Saturday, December 13, 2008


It's reached that point in the year when the weather has beaten me into submission, temporarily, and I have time to sit down and write my end of season report.
If I look back to my August post then things were very positive but it rapidly went down hill form there. Two weeks after I wrote that entry we had the spate of gales which demolished my beans and peas, resulting in me losing 80% of my heritage peas and 50% of the runner beans.
We then went away for our usual working holiday and returned to find that the slugs had completely demolished my onion crop - healthy bulbs but no leaves left. I then made the mistake of leaving them too long in the greenhouse to dry which meant they all got damp and started sprouting.
I had a minor successes with my late crop mangetout, French beans, and mouli (it didn't bolt as it did earlier in the year) but a complete disaster with the late sowing of kohlrabi, shimoto (leek like japanese onions), and senshu (globing japanese onion).
Other major success this year have been the Bracknell sown Pink Fir Apple, Red Cabbage, French Beans, and Runner Beans (despite the August gales). Reasonable success was also achieved with my calabrese, onions, garlic, shallots, summer cabbage, parsnips, salsify, butternut squash, potatoes (all except the Bracknell sowing of Pink Fir Apple),and the early sowing of kohlrabi. Set against this is the abysmal showing of my cauliflower, sweetcorn, carrots, lettuce, early peas, late sown turnips, and the impending disappointment of my sprouts.
The sprout went in on time in June and have been netted to keep both pigeons and cabbage whites off, yet there are few if any sprouts on any of the plants and they're small compared to what they should be like. This applies equally to the early variety which should have been ready at the beginning of November or the late variety which should just be starting to produce for a January harvest. Whether this is down to the weather this year, or my belief that the soil is exhausted (new plot for me this year) I don't know.
As to next year, I'm ahead in some areas and behind in others. The potato growing area of my Sunningdale plot has been covered, for the last 4 weeks in a 5" layer of manure, and I have a large pile ready to go on the asparagus bed, when I can get it dug and built - this is now getting towards being a major fire state, as I really needed this done about 6 weeks ago. I did managed to obtain enough timber to complete virtually all the raised beds on the Bracknell plot and the asparagus bed but so far only part of the Bracknell plot has benefited, bed 3, which is the far right hand one of the 3, which whilst I've now dug it's entire length has still to be filled. This will then allow me to dig the other half of bed 2, which is next years potato bed; so I suspect I'll be fighting yet another fire in March.
Another chore which I'm going to have to do over Christmas is to dig out the beds in the greenhouse and line with concrete - the silver birch roots are just doing too much damage and having too great an influence - I may take the opportunity to refill with a large amount of manure. I need a whole load more anyway for the garden veg plot and the bean plot, and a couple of bags from last years pile for use in the potato bins next year. I lost my second crop to blight again, although we have managed to get enough for a few meals. I'm saving the rest for Christmas.
I've more or less got all my seeds sorted for next year. With the prices and methods the big six are charging for seed potatoes I've gone to Edwin Tuckers for my seed potatoes again. They sell by the kilo (typically 3kg bags) and charge postage separately, so you can get 6 bags of seed potatoes for £28 + £7 P&P as opposed to £42 for 6 bags of 20 tubers (approx 2Kg) from the big six. The only ones they didn't stock were the Mayan Gold, which really impressed me this year, so I've had to go to Alan Roman's for these.
I'm actually looking forward to getting started again, counting the days till I can so my first leeks and onions, even if I'm not looking forward to the amount of digging that needs doing. Perhaps I aught to try and find time to strip and rebuild the carburettor on the rotavator.
Till January then..