The garden diaries – an allotment retrospective

I’ve read a lot of awesome blogs this year and in fact it was reading such blogs that sparked the desire to write my own. I recently read three very cool review posts, one by Marks Veg Plot, a two-parter by out of my shed and the amazing award ceremonies by wellywoman. All are very uniquely written with a good dose of humor and I too would like to review my year in my own way.

Each week at work we have an ‘agile retrospective’ where we look back on the week and discuss the good, the bad and the things that we weren’t quite so sure about. So, I’ll do the same. I’m interested in looking back at this post next year and seeing what changes, improvements or planting disasters I may have had, after all keeping a record is what a blog was originally all about – a web log.

The good
pears
berries
Fruit – gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrant, apples and pears. All were exceptional. I think they liked the rain (unlike me who did not).

Flowers – all germinated well and flowered for a long time.

  • My Pelargoniums at home in a hanging basket are still going for it?! The others are covered in fleece and being stored in the greenhouse. Before I had my greenhouse I used to stash them under a hedge.
  • I grew tons of Marigolds, inspired by my wedding in India. They flowered prolifically.
  • Adam sowed Rudbeckia and it was exceptional, even the plants we salvaged later in the year continued to flourish until they were killed by frost.
  • Sedums were amazing, as was Eggplant (when is Eggplant never good?) Alpines, Lupins were incredible, my Jasmine is lovely right now, Clematis, Roses, Skimmia Japonica…you name it, the flowering plants and shrubs have been amazing.

pepper_bowl
Peppers – the best being the big red ones that were given to me as seedlings from Michaela, who sows them early.

chill
Chilies – an abundance of chilies and some are still growing in my kitchen.

IMG_20121021_151728The final tomato harvest above – 9 weeks ago!

Tomatoes – tasted the best ever and I’ve been growing the same variety (passed on to me from my mother) for the last 10 years. I can only assume that I saved the very best seeds from last year, which incidentally lived on a piece of brown paper floating around my kitchen until spring and are really lucky to have survived. I still have tomatoes left from the final harvest which I took 9 weeks ago.

  • Broccoli – the best variety I’ve ever grown. I will be doubling up on the crop for next year. The plants were also easy to pull out unlike some broccoli varieties which grow, what I can only describe as, tree trunks.
  • Sprouts – withstood the onslaught from the cabbage whites and were grown in adequate numbers to be a tasty treat, rather than frozen wasted mush.
  • Carrots – grown in tubs, covered with fleece to stave off the dreaded carrot root fly. A small round variety. Very nice.
  • Onions – every year I buy onion sets from Wilkos and every year they perform. They last me until the following year’s crop is ready and I really enjoy plaiting them. Home grown onions are leagues ahead of the ones you normally buy in terms of flavor and juiciness.

beans
Beans – given to me by my friend Alice. Her parents (she calls them the bods) donated the seeds from their garden in Selby, Yorkshire. All my fellow allotmenteers had poor beans whereas the Selby beans triumphed and were a monumental spectacle in my front raised bed. Thanks ‘bods’.

The Bad
squash

  • Squash – I had 10 plants, only 2 grew and the specimens were poor.
  • Courgette – normally I have marrows galore because I can’t eat my bountiful crop fast enough, this year I had one lousy courgette? It was perfectly formed and tasted great but I really missed having more. Major disappointment.
  • Potatoes – my first and only poor crop in 9 years of growing them. A couple of spuds even had blight. Worried for next year.
  • Cauliflower – germinated fine, disappeared just fine. Don’t know what happened?
  • Peas – shriveled, withered and died. Another first in 9 years.
  • Sweat Peas – a poor show.
  • Cacti – none germinated.
  • Parsnips – did not germinate.

The ?
IMG_20120929_174236

  • Garlic – it grew but it was quite small. Tastes great and far better than anything I buy but I feel it could have been better. Not a total disappointment.
  • Pumpkin – one tiny one. Last year’s was a monster? Still cute though and good for a decoration.
  • Nasturtiums – I love them and they weren’t too great this year but they produced a lot of seeds, so hopefully next year will be better.
  • Cucumbers – I forgot to sow them?!
  • Avocado – I brought a stone/seed home from Cyprus and it’s growing. I fear it might be growing into a big tree though. No idea what to expect.

As an added bonus, the downright ugly

slug_monsterMonsterous Slugs, pictured here (sorry it’s blurry) stuck to a large piece of slate gravel. Even Adam wouldn’t completely touch the critter.

I really don’t want to see these beasts again next year!

I hope you had a good year in your gardens. If you have written a review blog post or enjoyed reading one elsewhere please feel free to add your link, or add a comment about your year :)

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32 Responses to “The garden diaries – an allotment retrospective”

  1. Sue@GLAllotments December 21, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Strange how some of your good were our bads and vice versa. We had a poor year for peppers, pears and onions but good cauliflower, parsnips, courgettes, potatoes, sweet peas and cucumbers

    • Anna B December 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Hello Sue! Yes, and I remember reading your reviews of your crops, I’ll add this link to the Top Performers http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/top-performers.html well worth people checking that out and your accompanying posts, and blog in general! I found it strange that my beans were great yet all the other plots around me were bad. Then my squash and pumpkins were terrible yet two other plots had amazing crops! Strange isn’t it?

  2. Katie B December 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    That was a great trip through the allotment this year! My biggest successes were beans and onions – was absolutely overrun, but no complaining there!

    My squashes refused to ripen even though they had plenty of time and sunshine, I think the wet weather at the beginning put them back a bit! And my carrots are the ugliest vegetables I’ve ever seen – I’m going to have to sieve that soil again in spring!
    And as for the slugs….bleaurgghhhhh! I’m currently waging war on the cats and foxes in my garden, i’ve had to turn my raised beds into a wire-caged prison!

    Lets hope next year brings lots of tasty food and more successes!
    Have a very jolly Christmas!

    Katie

    • Anna B December 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Hello Katie! Thanks for your comment :) Funny about your carrots! I grow mine in tubs in seed compost and they generally come out looking good.

      I have a cat problem too. I love cats but really don’t like them on my plot. I pushed little twigs into the non planted areas in the early spring to deter them and that worked well, but then places where I couldn’t do that they just took liberties. It really upsets me and this is the first year I’ve had such a problem. Wire cages sound good. I might invest in one of those sonic sound deterrents next year if it’s still a problem.

      Thanks again for dropping by Katie! Hope you have a jolly Christmas too :)

  3. outofmyshed December 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Anna, thanks so much for the mention. Wow, looks like you had a great year, despite a few disappointments. Particularly impressed by your peppers and chillis. My pumpkins and courgettes were terrible too, stubbornly refusing to grow, but lettuces and pea shoots were fantastic, which kept us in salads all summer long and autumn raspberries and Mara des bois strawberries were fantastic for fruit later in the year. Wishing you a great growing year in 2013-whatever the weather!

    • Anna B December 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Oh I forgot to mention my lettuces!!! I’ve enjoyed the year and I always learn something so hopefully the experience of the disappointments will mean that I can improve next year and take my veg growing a step further. No worries about the mention. Wishing you a great 2013 growing year too! :)

  4. wellywoman December 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Thank you Anna, Glad you liked my review. It’s great to be able to read about other people’s successes and failures especially at this time of year when it’s hard to even imagine being back out in the garden and on the plot. I’m so impressed with your peppers and tomatoes and hope I’ll have space to fit some in my greenhouse in the coming year. What variety of broccoli did you grow? I’ve never grown it before and quite fancy giving it a go.

    • Anna B December 22, 2012 at 12:09 am #

      Hello wellywoman! It was organic green sprouting broccoli, lots of seed companies sell it. I’ve found in the past that growing broccoli just produced lots of foliage and deep rooted trunks with little to actually eat and it took up a lot of room. I’ve tried purple sprouting and rudolph and other random varieties donated by other plot holders, but this is the first variety which actually produced decent food and were quite short neat plants. I’ll definitely grow this one again. I am going to start sowing peppers pretty soon as an experiment. I think that was why the red ones did so well. The tomatoes are sugar plum and they taste gorgeous. Starting them in a heated propagator really helps. Very much looking forward to next year and the light nights!

  5. Nadezda December 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Anna, I see you had good summer and harvest. I love your onion, I can’t grow it well. Every spring I buy the Dutch onion for seedlings and in fall they are ugly and small.

    • Anna B December 22, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      Hello Nadezda! Ah, growing onions is great, sorry to hear they don’t work out well for you. I buy onion sets, so I don’t sow them myself I just buy the little tiny ones. They like firm ground and lots of water. I buy simple red onions and the white onions are called Turbo. I hope that if you try again they will work out better for you :)

  6. PJ Girl December 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    That slug is a monster! I’d be squealing like a mad woman if I found that amongst the lettuces. It’s good to reflect on the previous season and realise how much we achieved.

    • Anna B December 22, 2012 at 12:17 am #

      It sure was a monster! We had loads of them, the size of Hamsters. Very disturbing!!! It is good to look back and I’m really happy that I have a proper record now that I can use to compare and learn from. Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  7. gardeninacity December 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Love the pictures of the pole beans and the peppers. Sounds like a very productive year. Also, that is one massive slug!

    • Anna B December 22, 2012 at 12:20 am #

      Haha! Yep! Thank goodness Adam doesn’t mind shifting them. Thanks for your comments, I really enjoyed the good crops this year. Having a greenhouse helps with the peppers :)

  8. notjustgreenfingers December 22, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    The slugs were like that at my allotment too. It’s amazing how we all seem to have different successes and failures this year…nature is funny isn’t it.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and all of your readers.

    • Anna B December 22, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      It is isn’t it! Nature has it’s own way. Merry Christmas to you and your family too :)

  9. Anna December 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    It always amazes me how each year is so different. You have had a good haul there despite some awful conditions. Wishing you a happy Christmas Anna and good growing in 2013. Look forward to reading about your progress.

    • Anna B December 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      Hi Anna! Thank you so much for your lovely comment :) wishing you a very merry Christmas and happy New year too!

  10. Anonymous December 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Love your blog, very inspirational.

    • Anna B December 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks very much anonymous! That’s made my Christmas :) Hope you have a cool Yule!

  11. rogerbrook December 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    I am lost in admiration for the quality of your peppers!

    • Anna B December 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Thanks so much! We had a really good year for them. Couldn’t exactly say why?! I’ll be growing them again this year and hoping for another good crop. Thanks again for your comment :)

  12. horticulturalhobbit December 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Fabulously inspirational! Throw some nouse and good luck my way would you!

    • Anna B December 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      Haha!! Thanks so much! Yes, I’ll send you my best wishes :)

  13. peppylady (Dora) December 27, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    Toward the end of each month I like to adventure out and visit some other blog and I came over from
    Not Just Green Finger blog….The only thing I can say “well done in gardening” I have little over 2 feet of snow in my yard right now but I know my garden season will come back around for me.
    Hope you find a few minute to stop in at my blog and I’ve love to share a cup of coffee with you.

    • Anna B December 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      Hello Dora! Thanks for visiting. I’ve not had any snow this year, just a short spell of very cold weather and now it’s mild and rainy again. I’ll definitely visit your blog. Thanks again for dropping by!

  14. Kim December 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Brilliant blog xx really enjoyed reading
    Last growing season i started late due to a gorgeous litter of pups, caught up a little by buying plants rather than growing from seed.
    But this following year i have no interruptions planned, i’m slowly building up a great community of twitters and bloggers to help get me through next season.

    Bring on the new year because i’m ready :-)

    • Anna B December 28, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

      Hello Kim! Thanks so much for your lovely comments :) Your little dogs are well cute!! Gardening is really time consuming so if you have to buy instead of sow in order to spend time looking after the pups then so be it. I must admit, I still buy lots of plants too. Every time I visit a garden centre I come back with something!! I’m really looking forward to the new year too. Hope you’ve had a great Christmas! Thanks again for your comments :)

  15. Mark Willis December 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Very nicely done! I like the way you have varied the presentation too – makes it more interesting. maybe there should be a blogger’s award for the biggest slug found on an allotment / veg garden (yours would probably win). And what can I say about your chillies? Just “Wow”. What type are the ones you grew indoors?

  16. Anna B December 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Hi Mark! Thanks for your comments :) I have no idea how those slugs got so big?! I really hope I don’t see them again in 2013!!! The majority of the chillies I grew this year and also grew indoors (one plant still growing on top of my kitchen cupboards!) were Cayenne – not overly hot and actually quite large plants. Absolutely no bother to grow though and an abundance of chillies. Next year I want to try some different ones because I’ve become obsessed with chilli poppers- I think jalapenos will be good for that. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  17. Helen Johnstone December 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Well I think the good far outweighs the bad and the others. What a lot of fab plants, flowers and edibles – you must be very pleased

    Best wishes for 2013

    • Anna B December 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      Thanks so much Helen! Best wishes to you too :)

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