Monday, 22 September 2008

I'm back!

My poor little blogspot has been so neglected over the past couple of months. I'm a bad blogger!! I just never seemed to get round to it once the summer started with the holidays and kids at home. So a massive update is in order I think! The header of this blog shows a panoramic of my plot and I can't get over how neat it is and how little seems to be growing in it! The plants (and the weeds!) have gone rampant and it all looks a lot more 'casual' now! :oD I quite like it though!

The most exciting thing to have happened over Summer was the local Garden Holders Association Show. The girlie entered one of her amazing sunflowers and won first prize in the Junior section. I entered loads of categories (at 10p an entry it's not exactly bank breaking! :o) ). Anyway, I won Ist prize for my pumpkin (the green one - eventually they turn orange - 'Small Sugar'); 2nd prize for my 5 coloured potatoes (can't remember what they are!! :oS!!) and 'most unusual shaped veg' and 3rd for my 5 cherry tomatoes (sweet olive). I was soooo excited when I when around to see if I'd won anything - what a day - so proud :oD!

So on to the plot - successes and disasters of the year so far: -

The pumpkins and squashes have been great, I've a fair few massive ones for halloween, ornamental gourds for drawing and lots of baby ones for soups and roasting. I've grown Jack o' Lantern (huge, fab); Jack Be Little (small, tonnes); Turks Turban (only managed one full size one so far, but was the most delicious taste); Crown Prince (huge greeny white colour, looks good but not tasted it yet); Small Sugar (orange, swat, middle size pumpkin); Butternut squash (only just coming now).

Sweetcorn - normal sized ones are good, and 'Mini Pop' were awful - I may just have picked them too early but they were rock hard! I'll give them a couple more weeks and try again. I'll definately grow sweetcorn with the pumpkins again though, it worked well.

Beans have been good, though I really don't like green beans so have let most of them go over to collect for haricots. One smashing surprise was some 'True Red Cranberry' beans I ordered from America turned out to be climbing Borlotti. I had been unimpressed with the ones I already had as the grew so short and the slugs kept getting them. These are climbers and I'll save the seeds for next year. Cosse Violette (purple), Corona D'ora (Yellow) and Mr Fearns (Green pod, black inside - I think??) Are all great. I don't like runner beans and am not going to grow them next year.

Peas have been good but I didn't successional sow enough and ran out. Magnum Bonum were fantastic. I got them from the Ryton Seed Swap and they grew to 1.5m. I'll grow more of these next year. Other peas were okay, but I don't think I've found my fave yet and I just can't be bothered with petit pois (too fiddly for the returns). I failed with the mange tout so that is a target for next year.

Brussels have been stripped by the cabbage white caterpillars as did the caulis so more protection next year. Purple sprouting (or yellow sprouting - Romanesco) was okay. Cabbages not great and need another go now the caterpillars are gone. Kale - not fussed so won't bother again and finally Kohl Rabi - interesting though expensive - May give it another go.

Carrots - utter failure! Must do better! Parsnips good - HUGE! I 'chitted' the seeds on damp kitchen towel and had near enough 100% germination.

Potatoes - earlies good especially Red Duke Of York - will definately grow these again. I won't buy any fancy ones next year I think as they didn't cope very well with the slugs. Pink Fir were also fantastic as were Cara. I don't think I'll bother with the others. I had a lot of problem with slug holes so I'll need to address this next year.

Onions, garlic and shallots were okay but bolted. I think a combination of dry weather and difficulty in weeding (I'm doing rows next time). These and leeks need more focus next year.

Outdoor toms started well but all sucumbed to either blight or more likely bottom end rot so had to chuck! Indoor tomatoes faired much better and has given me lots of fruit. In fact I made ketchup last night!! It's not overly economical though as it used a kg of toms and a variety of other veg but only made three bottles. I'm still proud of it though!

Fruit: Not many gooseberries and I chucked the large bush. The fruit didn't taste great and it seemed to have a lot of bindweed in the roots which covered it in the Summer. Raspberries were good. Blackberries didn't give me many fruits but is still a baby. Strawbs were fine and I've planted many of the runners. Blackcurrants and red currant were okay though not a great deal of fruit - no white currants. No fruit on the jostaberry, green gage or tayberries. Rhubarb filling out nicely. I've managed to stock up loads of homemade jam though from wild blackberries and redcurrants bought from the Veg show.

Lastly for this post, we're starting to sort, clear and tidy the plot now. We're making our way, bed by bed and digging out the weeds and preparing them for the winter, covering them or planting new stuff - leeks, onions etc. The pic below is of the logan/blackberry bed where we have cleared of weeds, manured and re-planted the new strawberry runners. Looks lovely!

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