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» Kiva - Loans that change lives.
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» Harvest season in the September garden
by Dandelion 21st September 2018, 10:10 pm

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by Ploshkin 17th September 2018, 9:05 pm

» What are you preserving today?
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» Reflections on the season - 2018
by Dandelion 14th September 2018, 7:04 pm

» A good year for the forager ?
by Ploshkin 12th September 2018, 9:03 pm

» First go at proper wine
by Chilli-head 10th September 2018, 10:07 am

» What are you harvesting today?
by Chilli-head 8th September 2018, 9:10 pm

» Pizza oven !
by freebird 3rd September 2018, 4:37 pm

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Reflections on the season - 2018

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default Reflections on the season - 2018

Post by Chilli-head on 11th September 2018, 12:36 pm

Is it too early to start pondering our successes and failures of 2018, and what we plan to do differently in 2019 ?

I think I need to use more manure, and water more. That's the main thing I pick up looking round at what has done well on my plot, and others on our allotment site. To that end, I do now have the water off my shed roof channeled into a water butt, but I think it will take more than that !
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2018

Post by freebird on 11th September 2018, 2:34 pm

Maybe if you use your additional manure as a mulch you won't need to water more.

Hard for me to make meaningful comparisons with other years.

Last season I started no-dig on the few plots that were avaiable to me, with good (and better than previous) results. This year was the 2nd time for those same plots, and the first for as many again. Those in their 2nd year have given crops with phenomenal growth. Runner bean plants twice as big, sweetcorn at least 2 feet higher, with more, longer and better filled cobs, lovely sugarsnaps and the french beans have gone on and on.

The mulch has helped keep weeding minimal, and appears to aid water retention too.

Squashes have been disappointing - they are on a 'first time' plot, so hoping for better things next year. However, I will be going back to butternuts.

In the greenhouse I have twice as many tomato plants as last year, but only half last year's yield. I have changed all the varieties, so may have less prolific ones, though I think the extreme heat has had quite an impact. San Marzano has been a complete waste of space. I have more chillies than I can shake a stick at (sadly no Yellow Rocoto, even though I found some flowers to hand pollinate), and the peppers from the seed swap have been prolific too.

I have leeks in a new plot, so jury out on those, some early purple sprouting and romanesco cauliflower, and just started winter salads. Hope to be reporting back later in the year. Overall though, a very good season despite the difficulties.
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2018

Post by Chilli-head on 12th September 2018, 4:18 pm

I will try the manure mulch. Anything for an easy life ! I've been trying to keep the horsetails down by hoeing, hoping to weaken them enough not to need to dig ... too much.

What did well for me are the plants you might expect, that come from hotter climes. Squashes, the butternuts are sprawling and winter squash Festival F1 seems to be going for world domination, it is up the fence trying to colonise next door's plot. Courgettes are pretty well behaved, a reasonably even supply from two plants. Sweetcorn Lark did pretty well too.

Tomatoes were few. I really liked the "Indigo" varieties from Premier Seeds - Indigo Apple and Indigo Blue Beauty. I thought they would just be a gimmick bred for appearance, but they have very good flavour too. But the conditions were not easy, lots of blossom end rot and slow ripening. Monty Don was saying on GW that these were common problems this year due to the heat.

Chillies and peppers seem very late. The plants just stalled for a while in spring, like they were in stasis for a month. Still, Basket of Fire has produced enough to keep me going for a while.

Leeks, sown in a deep pot, look promising. I like the method; turning the whole pot out into a wheelbarrow of water seems to be the easiest way of separating them without too much root damage. Much healthier transplants than I ever got with modules.

Beetroot, and such carrots that actually germinated (about half the row) are pretty good.

Strawberries and Blackcurrants were good, we've stocked up with jam. And the grapes for wine, as you've seen.

Now the not so good stuff. Brassica didn't happen. Sown too late, then holidays etc meant they sat in their modules too long, were eaten by caterpillars and never got planted out. peas were ok, but scant. Beans even more scant, except the broad beans which I sowed last autumn did OK. Overwintered onions were OK too, but the spring sown ones are about the size of a shallot ! Not enough water. Garlic was OK as well.

The overall picture is that the overwintered crops did well, as they usually do in a dry year because although they don't do much above ground, they develop a stronger root system over winter. Anything that likes moist soil was a disaster !
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2018

Post by Dandelion on 12th September 2018, 4:33 pm

It was an odd year for me, because of being out of action. With an appointment in October to see the consultant about having my other knee replaced, next year could be just as odd! It depends on the timing - our county has the longest waiting time in the UK for knee and hip replacements, so I could be going in for surgery late summer/ early autumn next year, by which time I could have planted things and left Mr D copious notes about how to care for them and harvest them! I grew tomatoes from plants which I bought at the garden centre this year, which I haven't done for well over 20 years, and I'm glad I did because it allowed me to have six different plants and try new things. The best performing was probably Marmande, which was the ony plant to be put into the garden instead of an easy2grow module. It's still producing very healthy fruit even now, and there didn't seem to be much blight around.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2018

Post by Ploshkin on 12th September 2018, 9:28 pm

Most of my growing has been in the polytunnel because I've found it produces so much for so long that I don't need the same crops outside. One courgette plant, 10 French bean plants, 4 mange tout plants, 2 small sowings of carrots and 5 hanging baskets of strawberries have produced more than I can use constantly from late May through until now. Tomatoes have been sluggish and are ripening very slowly. Sweet peppers are phenomenal, I must have 60 - 70 really good sized peppers on 6 plants. I'm having to rescue some green ones as they are ripening so quickly. Melons were gorgeous. Sweetcorn was a bit disappointing but that was down to variety. The ones from last year's seed were good but I had to grab a packet of seed from the chemist and those weren't a patch on the others. Butternut weren't great - I've ended up with 5 smallish ones from 2 plants but I've got 10 really good sized Uchiki Kuri from one plant. All these things withstood 50°c on many days during the 9 week dry spell with only once a day watering.
Outside I've got some really good brassicas which is amazing as I didn't water at all in the hot dry spell. I just left the spuds and have a decent crop though a bit shabby and I've got some good runner beans.

I think I've nearly got the measure of what quantities I need to put in the tunnel but I must get stuff started for later crops to replace plants when they have finished. It is my intention to erect a fruit cage for next year as I now lose so much fruit to the birds and that will use the space currently used by some of my raised beds.

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Post by Dandelion on 13th September 2018, 7:55 pm

You have a chemist who sells vegetable seeds? Amazing!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 13th September 2018, 9:18 pm

They sell plant food and bird feed as well Dandelion and up until very recently used to sell small quantities of lamb milk powder if you didn't want to buy a whole big bag from the farm supplies.
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Post by Dandelion on 14th September 2018, 7:04 pm

Much more enterprising than the chemists round here!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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