Monday, 3 November 2008

Review of the vegetable year

Well now that the garden is beginning to sleep I decided it's time to take stock of the successes and failures of this season.
Tomatoes - I only grew 2 types, Tigrella and Sunburst. They did well in the greenhouse, and I did not have any outdoor ones, after severe blight hit last year. I think I tried to get too many plants into the space, because those on the shadier side did not do so well. Next year I think 8 plants are all I can fit in, but I've been given some seeds of a French Black tomato, and probably some green tiger ones too, so I may have to think carefully where I could manage some outside.
Cucumbers - I grew 4 plants, and these did very well. I gave a number away, and we had trouble keeping up with them, even though Vicky will happily munch away on a whole one while watching her favourite TV programmes.
Chillies - These took a while to get going, but finally came into their own, and I have a lot still to ripen. I'm hoping to successfully overwinter a couple of plants inside to get a head start next year.
Peppers - Once again these were a dead loss. I thought when I got them into flower early that I was going to get a decent crop, but what with slugs, small caterpillars, and generally bad weather, I have only picked one decent sized ripe orange pepper. I am seriously considering giving these a miss next year and using the space for a more productive crop.
Courgettes - The parthenocarpic variety was very successful from an early sowing, although they did succumb to powdery mildew quite early, probably due to the weather. The second sowing was a bit too late to do anything. I did find we were a bit overwhelmed for a while, and I have frozen quite a few for winter use.
Potatoes - These were not so successful considering the amount of space and compost they took up. The few potatoes I got were very tasty, but I think I could use the space more productively.
Broad Beans - Considering these went in quite late, and then they had to contend with the grape vine for light, these were reasonably successful. I will be trying these again, giving them better conditions next year.
Peas - For the first time I grew dwarf peas rather than the climbing variety I usually go for. I won't be growing these again, they cropped very poorly, and tasted 'harvested' even when quite small. Vicky and I usually eat any peas we get raw from the pods, but she didn't like these ones at all.
Climbing French Beans - I grew these mixed with the runners on a wigwam of canes. I got a reasonable crop, but they did get overwhelmed by the more vigorous runners. Next year I will separate the 2, and hopefully get more beans. I did manage to freeze a few packs for the winter.
Runner Beans - These enjoyed the wetter summer, we were not overwhelmed, but had sufficient for every dinner we wanted them for, and I managed to freeze some too. Next year I am trying a white flowered variety to fit in better with the colour schemes in the flower borders. Hopefully they will do as well.
Beetroot - The only problem here was not planting enough. I got a good crop of reasonable size beets. Next year I will start planting earlier, and make sure I have a succession.
Radish - The first planting did well, and I was hard pushed to eat them all before they went to seed. However the second planting was affected by cabbage root fly, which made most of them inedible. A low 'wall', or covering with fleece would prevent this, but may be a problem in the potager, as it will not look particularly pleasing the the eye.
Parsnip - These were sown direct, in April. Not that many germinated, and I've only pulled one so far, but that one was a good size. I should be able to do home grown parsnip for Christmas dinner, which what Daniel was hoping for.
Celeriac - I planted these quite early this year, so they were good size plants when they went out. Unfortunately several plants ran to seed. the others are around tennis ball size, but I haven't pulled any yet.
Yacon - After getting squashed in the post, only 3 plants grew, and these were very slow. So far they are only about 18 inches high instead of the 5 foot described. The one I've dug up so far hadn't made any growth for eating or replanting, so it is in the greenhouse. The jury is still out on this one. As they cost £5 a plant I won't buy again, but I will replant outside next year if I can get any tubers from this years plants.
Kohl Rabi - Much to Vicky's disappointment, this did not do well this year. The purple ones which did grow were not such a good flavour as the white I have grown before, and they seemed particularly popular with the slugs. Back to white next year I think.
Lettuce - We were pretty self sufficient with this for a good period of time. the red cos type, Pandero, was less attractive to the slugs, so I will go with this again next year. The space I save not growing potatoes can be utilised for lettuce maybe.
Onions - I grew some red onions from seed. The ones in the pots did better than those In the garden, although they were not huge. I think I will try some of these again as they look pretty in salads. If I had more space I would probably use onion sets for cooking onions.
Garlic - This has done very well again this year. I have been saving the largest cloves for replanting ever since we moved here, 4 years ago, and I think it does pay off, as the plants become acclimatised to local conditions. I have already replanted my garlic for next year.
Although I haven't enough space to be self sufficient in veg, I have found it worthwhile to grow what I can. However when space is a premium I think it best to concentrate on the more expensive or successful varieties. there is no point in growing anything that is not liked or does not produce well. I have already decided the larger brassicas such as sprouts, broccoli and cauliflowers are not practical for me at the moment, although it would be a different story if I managed to get an allotment!

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