Monday, May 21, 2012

Review of 2011's Vegetable Gardening

A review of last year's crops is in order, I think. They went in on April 23rd, and were a bit late - not to mention the onion seeds didn't take at all. Well, that's not fair, one onion came up, much later in the year.

We had potatoes (Organic Sarpo Mira). They grew well, cropped well, and I was reasonably happy with the potatoes themselves. We don't use all that many potatoes, though, and they're rather intensive use of space for something that's cheap enough in the shops and available from local sources. So I'm not going to plant potatoes at all this year.

Onions (Bedfordshire Champion - from seed, not sets). These were a disaster, as noted above. I blame our dense clay soil, but that's not not a thing  I can change quickly. So this year's are from sets.

Peas (Lincoln, an heirloom variety) and Green Beans (Nomad) - the peas were glorious, the beans just didn't fruit. They were within centimetres of each other, in identical soil. I don't know what was driving that, but I'll take the hint. This year I've a good-sized bed of peas in, and no beans.

The rocket came up and was eaten. No alarms and no surprises; I'll probably plant some during the summer, but there's no need to do so this early. The Coriander (Calypso) just didn't make it. We'll be trying some herbs in the mini-greenhouse, though, so I anticipate some better results in the warm-weather herb area this year.

The courgette plants didn't do so well - one just disappeared, and the other produced some lacklustre fruit, which was so slow-growing that the slugs got most of it before it was mature. This is pretty much the opposite of last year's experience, so I'm a bit mystified.

The basil just plain died. We haven't been able to grow basil worth speaking of, or even keep imported plants alive at all. It's not soil - some of the imported plants are in pots - and it doesn't seem to have any consistent cause. I'll try some on the allotment this year, and some in the mini-greenhouse, because I do like me some basil.

The tomato plants went well, but could do with more consistent heat and sunshine than we had last year. This year is shaping up well for that, and I'll buy some established plants at the beginning of June. And finally, the lettuces boomed, were eaten, those that didn't go to seed, and generally performed very well. Twelve was too many for a cut-and-come-again style, though; six would have sufficed. If we're picking full heads, it's a different story.

Pak choi that were planted later on were thoroughly slug-eaten - if I do those again, they'll need to be in containers, or protected in some fairly sophisticated way.

Update & Allotment

Apologies for the long hiatus - you can blame my college course. However, the term is over, and I can now spend a few months focussing on home projects, of whatever shape.

In the early winter, I finished out most of the attic work, and the new space has been in use there since. There's still some finishing to do - edging and trimming of various kinds - but it's been a huge benefit already. Over the summer, I'll finish that, work in a new pantry under the stairs, and build myself a fitted desk.

I did some quick planting in the garden in March - onions and peas, along with some pumpkins, squashes, cabbages and brussels sprouts. The onions (from sets, this year) are doing beautifully, as are the peas. The pumpkins and squashes may or may not be doing well - something in that cold frame is, but I'm not yet sure if it's the things I planted, or something else entirely. I don't really recognise pumpkin leaves yet. The sprouts and cabbage simply didn't appear - the cold clay soil strikes again.

However, we've a solution to that now, at least in part - a shared allotment. I wasn't aware of any such anywhere near our place, but a friend who lives nearby found them, and proposed sharing one. It's coming into shape now, and I planted more onions and peas there yesterday, after we put in a pretty solid afternoon's work making paths and beds. I intend to start some more brassicas off in our mini-greenhouse, and get those in place on the allotment as soon as they're up to it. And I'll try both approaches on some lettuce, and see which works out better - I suspect, though, that sowing in small pots and then planting on is going to be the winning method, much though I dislike it.

More detail on all these projects in the weeks and months to come!