As 2015 has come to an end, I have been looking back at the last year and what I have and have not achieved. It’s been a long and hard year with quite a few successes and, unfortunately, some abject failures!
Mostly, this year has been a struggle to keep on top of the weeds. Every time I turned my back on the plot I was inundated with fat hen and bindweed.
However, the larger plot has been quite productive. We have had an extraordinary amount of potatoes this year. Not only have we given quite a few away but we have not had to buy any since June and still have two large sacks of Sarpo Mira in store.
I think my pride and joy of the year is the garlic and the butternut squash! We had 36 beautiful bulbs of garlic and apart from a small bit of rust on the leaves they were pretty trouble free. They dried well and I haven’t had to buy any garlic since July and I don’t anticipate having to buy any at all until the next lot are ready. The butternut squash were very productive resulting in 32 very large fruits. We have given a far few away but still have 20 to get through at home!
The fruit cage had a major overhaul, with all the netting being replaced and all the old raspberries being dug out. A pathway has been put in and a number of currant bushes have been added. At one point the weeds crept up on us but we beat them back. Unfortunately the raspberries were not massively productive but they were new canes, some didn’t transplant well and some were suffocated by bindweed. I am hoping they will be more productive this year.
We got some lovely onions this year, some were real whoppers! About 15% of them have rotted in storage (neck rot) and I am not sure if this is from not drying them properly or harvesting at the wrong time? If anyone has any suggestions I would grateful to know what you think!
The polytunnel went up this year, lasted 4 months and then the cover was destroyed. It did house some tomatoes which were a bit of a mixed bag this year. They all, unfortunately, got blight but we still managed to get a few ripe tomatoes and some green ones for chutney. Maybe I’ll have better luck next year.
On the small plot we had great success with peas. We got them in early to avoid the pea moth and were reward with a bumper early harvest. We still have some frozen in the freezer. Our later harvest was infested with pea moth and only 40% of that was usable. I was hoping we would hit the end of the pea moth season but my timing was wrong. If anyone has any ideas for protecting against pea moth I would be grateful for the advice!
Generally, beans have done well but so far, touch wood, they have always been a hassle-free crop. Brassicas, on the other hand, have not been good. This is completely my fault because I didn’t pay attention! I planted the all my brassicas and then didn’t get a protective cover on them soon enough! Between the birds and the caterpillars, there was barely anything left for us to eat except brussels sprouts and red cabbage. And even these, due to the wet and warm weather we have had this December, have been rotting before I could eat them. The cabbages we have enjoyed for the last three months but half the brussels sprouts rotted on the stem. 😦
We have ended the year on a good note though as we finally got round to clearing out the shed and cleaning/sharpening all our tools! We have also been having a real good tidy up!
Overall, the plots have been productive more than not this last year and every year we learn from our mistakes and improve (put covers on the brassicas straight away!).
Lastly, I would like to thank my friends Adam and Jenny who have come over several times to help with the heavy work! They have been absolute stars! Not only have they worked hard at weeding but they also dug our new pond!
And I want to thank Susan and Chris and Stacey and Rob for their contribution of fruit bushes to the allotment. I will be looking forward to a bumper crop of gooseberries and blackcurrants next year!
Have a happy and healthy 2016 everyone!