Tag Archives: allotment

The late summer harvest – growing apples and pears

apple-tree

I love growing apples and pears and I’m so lucky to have two mature trees in my allotment garden. They were both planted around 4 years before I took over the plot and I’ve been there around 10 years myself now.

Each year the quantity and quality of the harvest is different and depending upon what I’m doing around harvest time, how I store them and what I do with them also differs. For example, in previous years I’ve been away on holiday around this time only to return to find the trees stripped bare. Some years all the fruit falls off so quickly I’m left with hardly anything and some years we pick it all and then it ‘goes off’. So, basically we either have too much fruit, or we don’t have enough and vow to make the most of it the following year.

pears-growingBaby pears last month, I love the way they grow up in the air!

Pears seem to be a lot easier to store, they last longer and they get eaten by Adam very quickly so it’s just apples that I need to work on.

We’ve undertaken various tasks to over the years to make the most of our harvest. We’ve subjected ourselves to mammoth picking sessions just before we go on holiday, but often only to return to mouldy fruit. Adam also made an ingenious ‘apple catcher’ a couple of years ago but of course the majority of the apples that fall off (windfalls as they call them round here) are usually damaged so there’s not much point in that either.

One year we bought a fruit press and made cider. Never again! It was a lot of effort, a lot of apples and not much cider. It took us hours and all the juice squirted through the muslin and wooden slats splatting everything in sight! There was definitely some comedy value in what we did but not much else.

Then other years things go very well and we have just enough fresh apples and pears and no hassle! Those years are the ones where the harvest isn’t too overwhelming. This year, thanks to the amazing blossom in spring we have more apples and pears than I’ve ever seen before and I’m definitely overwhelmed!

apple-tree-blossomFruit blossom in spring

This year I want to do something different and I need ideas! I’m very lucky that dotcomgiftshop asked if I would like to review a product and knowing that I have this big apple and pear harvest to contend with I chose their vintage style apple produce tray. I promised them a review in exchange for the tray so I’ll have to come back to that later when it’s really been put to the test! I’m really impressed with it so far though. It looks great and it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It’s also got really nice smooth surfaces and I like that because I can keep it clean more easily than a rough finished tray and avoid dragging dirt into the kitchen.

dotcomgiftshop-vintage-tray

I’ll be able to get two stacks of apples in my tray separated with brown paper. Then I can store them, I’m just not sure where to store them this time, in the light or in the dark? I’ve tried both in the past but still end up with a few mouldy apples.

In terms of eating my harvest this year, I also have elderberries in my garden and I’ve seen a gorgeous recipe for stewed apple and elderberry pancakes in my new Nigel Slater book! Adam bought me his Kitchen Diaries II book for my birthday and it’s full of seasonal recipes using up everything he grows in his garden. So, apart from stewed apple and just eating apples as they are, what else can I do this year? I fancy getting a juicer (I’m never using the fruit press again!) but I have no idea which one to buy and how much use I’d get from it…decisions, decisions!

Do you harvest apples and pears? How do you store them? Do you freeze them, juice them and do you have any recipes? All ideas welcome!

 

Welcome to the jungle – the garden has taken off!

allotment-courgettes-july

Since my last post from the garden in late June/early July things have developed drastically! While I’ve been away on holiday the plants have grown, or should I say over-grown in the remarkable British weather!

allotment-july

Adam was a little worried that the sprinkler system he set up would not work…but it did.

We returned to an abundance of foliage, crops and what I can only describe as a jungle in the pumpkin patch!

tomatoes-growing-in-greenhouse

greenhouse-july

We have lots of crops to harvest and a great big yellow courgette! The first of many.

allotment-harvest

apples-and-pears

broad-bean-harvest
brocolli-july
desert-gooseberries
grapes
green-tomato
peas-and-gooseberries-harvest
redcurrants

The higgledy-piggledy wildlife border is a bit of a mess now the foxgloves have died off. Looking forward to the teasel and echinops coming out though and the persicaria is still looking good.

I’ve got some late summer planting ideas for this border and can’t wait to get started.

persecaria

pink-dahlia

Unfortunately we didn’t have a sprinkler system for the front garden but we took all the containers, including window boxes up the road to the allotment so they would be watered. My pots of dahlias have come out while we were away and look great.

Out front the clematis has suffered, so has the rose and the rosemary plant actually died. Wow it must have been hot!

The day lilies are amazing though and have really spread since last year so they’re providing some lovely colour.

Day-lilies

I’m full of inspiration from our holiday in Provence and decided to take the opportunity to have a bit of an overhaul at the front anyway for my late summer display, by moving some containers around and buying some new plants – there’s nothing like a bit of retail therapy!

flowers-front-garden

How are your gardens doing? Do you have a good harvest this year? Do you have any tips for keeping your gardens in shape while you’re away on holiday?

 

Spring is nearly here – what’s growing on?

adam_in_greenhouse

I’m so happy that spring is round the corner but in terms of it ‘feeling like spring’ I’m as confused as the weather! It’s snowing one minute and mild and sunny the next. Very random! On the milder days it’s been great getting outside into the garden. Adam’s been tidying the greenhouse and I’ve been doing the weeding and having a general potter around. The weeds have really started growing now and I enjoy trying to get rid of them as soon as possible.

weeds-3What is this plant? Is it a weed?

My soil is lovely and I wonder if the minimal digging we did in the autumn combined with a bit of mulching has helped it achieve a soft and crumbly texture. I really can’t remember what it was like this time last year – warmer and drier I think so I’m not going to be able to pin point exactly why my soil texture feels great but it’s very easy to spruce up and keep neat, which is good in my books!

broadbeans-under_netbox

A few weeks back I planted out my broad beans. I started them off indoors and then popped them into the greenhouse in big tubs until I felt the weather was a bit more stable. I’ve covered them with a net-box and sprinkled coffee grounds around them. One of my favourite local Cafes – The Cheerful Chili gives them away and they claim it works! So far, so good.

tulip_bulbs

Inside the greenhouse I have pots and pots of tulips. When they come into flower I’ll take them outside and most of them will go by my front door. I also have my ornamental kale which has bolted a bit. I’ve never grown this plant before so I’ve got no idea what I’m doing with it to be honest!

ornamental_kale

mini_lettuce

Inside the house things are also growing and I’m starting to sow all my seeds for March.

My lettuces are still tiny but looking really healthy and I expect to be potting it on very soon and starting my next batch.

mini_lettuce_2chilies_sowing_2

A couple of weeks ago I sowed my chilies in expandable coir pellets. I bought a kit with the propagator included for around £4.95, which is quite expensive compared to a big bag of seed sowing compost. I’ve never used these pellets before but they seem to be really popular. My chilies are still germinating (they take ages) so I have no real view yet on how good these modules are. They are extremely quick, easy and clean to use though, which is a bonus. I just hope the seeds grow well, I’m hoping they’ll pop through any day now.

mammoth_leeks

My mammoth leeks are potted on and still look like little stalks. I’ve never grown this large variety before so I’m just keeping them in the light, well watered and I’m hoping for the best!

iris_march

My irises have been lovely this year but some are already on their way out, which is quite sad. I have another variety to come up next and I can’t wait for my daffodils and tulips to flower. The lavender is looking very healthy and once spring is established I’ll be looking forward to that taking hold.

I spent the day at Harlow Carr on a photography course today. I discovered that I’ve pretty much been doing everything wrong! I’m looking forward to downloading the photos I took and I’ll post any good ones. I’m really looking forward to getting out in the garden tomorrow.

Have you started sowing anything yet? What have you been doing in your gardens and allotments?

Snooping around allotments in February

allotment_6
The weekend was rather sunny and at my parents’ allotments things were starting to stir.

I was staying with my parents last weekend and I took the opportunity to have a good old snoop around their allotments yet again! I last visited their plot properly in November and established that being a nosey gardener is in my nature.

There was a lot of activity, people barrowing compost and wood chippings, constructing paths and building structures. Jobs like that are very popular at this time of year with allotmenters and gardeners alike because there’s so many bare areas that you can tend to, unlike in the summer where they could be overgrown with foliage, flowers and weeds.

allotment_5

kale_february

There was still an abundance of kale and it’s looking like the stuff at RHS Harlow Carr with the pickings gone from the bottom leaving young leaves at the top of long stalks. It is still my No.1 favourite veg that I have never grown!! Can’t wait to start sowing it soon.
kale_inspection
A rare sighting of me, still obsessed with kale!

I also made a beeline for last year’s allotment winner, lots of neat bare beds but I was impressed by the quality of the veg she’s still got growing and looking so healthy.

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allotment_4
allotment_3

The cabbage man has eaten the majority of his giant crop but a few remain, still looking impressive.

monster_cabbage

I also noticed a huge net box! Plus, one that is still covering carrots from last year and I spied some seedlings in a greenhouse – could they be monster leeks and onions!

large_net_box_allotment
leek_seedlings
net_box_1

It was nice to spend time at my folks allotments and I sensed a really good vibe among the allotmenteers. I’m looking forward to visiting again and seeing what happens over the next few months.

This weekend has been grey and slightly snowy so far and I’ve had to dig the indoors today! I’ve finally been able to catch up Monty Don’s French Gardens series that Wellywoman reminded me of in her recent post. The Gourmet Garden episode was of particular interest to me because it covers the topic of my latest challenge, which is to more carefully buy food products that I can trace the source of.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend and have had better weather than me. Have you been spending more time outside in your gardens lately?


Quick DIY for the garden – the net box

bulbs_under_cover
If you’re a bit of a handy man, handy girl or you’re living with one then I highly recommend having a go at making something Adam made for me a couple of years ago. The net box! It’s got so many uses all year round. I’ve got a couple of these in different sizes for different plants.

allotment_net_box

I often throw netting over my crops and stake it in place with canes but I find having ready made boxes really useful, for example, covering pots of bulbs that aren’t through yet to protect them from pesky squirrels. They’re also brilliant  for warming up sections of soil ready for planting and for protecting any newly planted crops. Later in the year I’ll use them to protect crops from birds and to provide toasty micro climates. I also find it puts cats off from using freshly raked beds and beds with small seedlings, as litter trays.

Garden centres do sell a range of netting, fleece and plastic cloches which are also useful around the garden and now is good time of year to get these things in place, warming up the soil for spring. I have a couple of those too but don’t find them quite as handy as these boxes. A colleague was telling me about his neighbour who’s made a massive version that covers a much bigger area (around the size of two of my biggest raised beds) and it’s head height so he can get inside! Now that’s some serious veggie protection!

squirel_in_the_garden

Adam made the boxes by screwing together 12 lengths of 2×1 batons and he stapled on the netting with a staple gun. Other allotment folk make some brilliant curved ones by using plumbing piping. One important tip, don’t double the netting up and create any gaps, bees can easily get trapped in between so it’s best to just use one layer. Adam used scaffolding netting which is available in 2m wide lengths, most garden centres sell something similar.

Do you have any net-boxes or cloches? What kind of things do you make for your garden?

Month by month – gardening in January

berries_in_snowMy friends and colleagues are always asking me what they should/could be doing each month and January has been no exception. I feel slightly uncomfortable starting this new series since there’s a ton of books out there that give wonderful month by month guides to gardening and there’s some great websites too, including Gardeners World and the RHS and of course plenty of other blogs written by passionate gardeners who have brilliant advice. Please feel free to add your own tips, ideas and advice and hopefully all our friends and colleagues will benefit!

~ ~ ~

1. When it’s cold outside and you want to be indoors check out seed catalogues and read books! Now is a good time to start thinking about what you will grow, going through your seed collection and starting to plan your garden. I’ve organised my seeds in zip lock bags, sorted by each month.

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2. Sow indoors. Not everyone has a greenhouse and not everyone can heat their greenhouse so start sowing on your windowsill. January can be really poor for light so if you really don’t have a bright or sunny spot then you don’t have to do this, most folk start in March. I’m a massive fan of starting my seeds indoors though and some things you can try are:

  • Early tomatoes such as Mr. Fothergills Red Cherry. If you have a heated propagator set them off in there now and when they start coming through we should have better light conditions. Be warned, they can be leggy if sown now though but tomatoes are very robust. If you are raring to go, then try it, better still wait until February or March. I will be sowing some end of Jan/start of Feb because I want some early varieties.
  • Autumn Leeks like the Mammoth Variety I’m growing right now.
  • Broadbeans – again, start them indoors and you will have some really strong and healthy plants to plant out in March. They will start to grow big though so be prepared to pot them on. If you haven’t got the time or space then wait and sow them direct in March.
  • You can also check out what I’ve got ‘growing on‘.

3. You can plant garlic outside but only when the ground is frost free and not waterlogged. Digging frozen or wet ground can damage your soil structure. With this current cold snap it’s probably best to wait now until March unless you’re in a blessed part of the country or the world where mildness prevails!

january_snow_garden

4. Potter and clean things. On a crisp but frosty day take your flask of coffee (or if you’re like me your flask of Baileys Hot Chocolate or a nice tea) and potter around. Any bulbs you have in pots should be in cold frames or sheltered from bad weather, including rain, some bulbs don’t like to be waterlogged. Clean your greenhouse with hot soapy water – that’ll warm your hands! Fungus can grow in your greenhouse so it’s important to ventilate it in this weather too. Shake snow off branches and when everything is bare in the garden it’s a great time to tidy around and visualise where you will plant things and what changes you might make over the coming months.

5. Certain bits of pruning can be done now. I only know about Apples and Pairs but I never do them when it’s frosty, snowing or completely frozen like now as that can be harmful to them. So wait for the next mild spell and that would be a good time. I expect that rule applies to other trees and woody shrubs. Best to check that one!

6. Plant trees, hedging and roses. Never plant a rose where another one once was. It can lead to disease. Dogwood seems to be flavour of the month this year and it does look utterly brilliant. Again, avoid digging barerooted plants in when it’s really very cold weather. Wait for it to thaw out somewhat first. This is to protect the soil and give the plant a good start for it’s roots.

7. Feed the birds. They will be very grateful.

8. Plan your crop rotation. This is what I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks.

9. Order your seed potatoes for chitting next month.

10. If all else fails and snow continues to fall, then go for a nice walk and take photos :)

rotten_snowy_cabbagesThis is why I don’t grow much over winter, rotten cabbages don’t look great even when covered in snow

Can you think of anything else? Please feel free to link up to your posts if you have any winter / January advice. Happy gardening!

Seed list 2013 – my year of experimental growing

seeds

In my last blog post I wrote about the seedlings that I’ve got growing/germinating/thinking about (hopefully) germinating in January. I’ve also been right through my seed collection and grouped everything into zip lock bags, an idea I saw someone post on twitter – last year I had a disaster with an automatic watering system so waterproofing is required! Instead of ordering the seeds by type, I’ve ordered them by month in the hope that I’ll be a bit more organised and I won’t forget to sow things, like the cucumbers I forgot last year.

I’ve totally discovered that I have far too many though! Some seeds simply won’t get sown, so I’ll prioritise new unopened packets and the seeds that I’ve gathered myself over any open ones that I’ve carried over, as they could be a bit dodgy.

Here’s the list!

Broad beans – Karmazyn and Aquadulce Claudia
Leeks – Mammoth Blanch and Musselburgh
Sweet Peas – various varieties
Tomatoes – Every year I grow a variety that my mum also grows, Sugar Plum. They’re the best! I saved the seeds from my crop. The sugar plums are late developers so I’ll be experimenting with some other varieties and sowing them in Jan & Feb then the sugar plum in March.
Lobelia – String of Pearls
Sprouts – Evesham Special
Sweet Pepper – Californian Wonder & Ingrid
Chilli – Cayenne (I saved from my crop last year), Anaheim and Jalapeno
Celery- Golden Self Blanching
Cabbage- January King (I think these are the big beastie ones!)
Cornflowers – mixed
Peas – Purple Podded & Douce Provence
Chives
Wildflowers – mixed packets that were given to me for the Bees
Beetroot – Boltardy
Radish – French Breakfast 3
Sunflowers – Velvet Queen
Asters – Mixed variety that I bought in Amsterdam
Carrots – Nantes Early, Resistafly F1, Amsterdam 2, Cortina & Purple Haze
Nasturtiums – Mixed Whirlybird
Dwarf French Beans – Amethyst
Runner beans – ‘Selby Beans‘ saved over from my crop
Stocks – Mixed
Cucumber – femspot F1 & Crystal Lemon (the round ones!)
Courgette- Atena Polka
Cauliflower – Purple Cape
Squash – Summer Satellite, Winter Uchiki Kuri & Cornell’s
Swiss Chard – Rainbow Mix
Black & White Kidney Beans
Turnips – Golden Balls! Oddly, while I was sorting, Mark’s Veg Plot posted this about his golden balls.
Spring Onions – Summer and White Lisbon Winter Hardy
Mustard – for green manure
Various Herbs and Salads – you name it, I grow them in pots everywhere, mixed in with my flowers.

Things I’m missing and need to buy:
Broccoli – Organic Green Sprouting
Pumpkins
Curly Kale!!!

I’ve been banging on about these and would you believe it, I don’t have any yet!

The other things I grow are Rocket potatoes and Turbo & Red onions from sets. I usually get the onions from Wilkinsons and they’ve never let me down. My mum traditionally buys me the Rockets from their local market and starts chitting them for me. I think this tradition is rather cute so I’ll carry on this year. I need to confirm where she got last year’s from though because they were poor. However, that could have been due to the weather.

I also grow fruit but I don’t think I’ll be adding to what I already have. You can guarantee that every time I visit a garden centre I will come out with something though and I’ll be given lots of plants and vegetables. Adam will no doubt want to sow a load of flowers too. Good job I love gardening!

I’m on holiday in Andorra next week and if I get any spare time I’ll be thinking about my crop rotation and I’ll share some plans at a later date. Have I missed anything from my list?! What have you got planned for 2013? Do you have any tips you can share?

Gardening in January – what’s growing on?

This month I’ll mostly be…

Did you ever see the Fast Show? If not, the line above will mean nothing but if you did then you might have visions of a funny old man emerging from his shed saying, “this week I’ave mostly been…” This month that’s me, except I’m a short ‘youngish’ girl and at some point this year I will have a new shed!

So, this month I’ll be sorting through all the seeds I’ve collected and been given and I’ll be compiling a list for 2013, which I will post in due course.

bradbeans
I’ve also already got some seedlings on the go in various places around the house. I’ve got broad beans germinating on the top windowsill (Karmazyn and Aquadulce Claudia). I’ve sown them in modules this year. You can start sowing these from November onwards although it’s usual to take a break after November and start again in February but this is only really if you’re sowing directly into the ground. If you have space to sow them indoors you can do this anytime.

I’ve covered mine with polythene bags to get them going. These are the ideal candidates for sowing in the cardboard tubes you find in the middle of toilet rolls or homemade newspaper pots and planting directly out in those at a later date. Once these get too big for my windowsill I’ll transfer them to my cold frame and assess the weather situation then. If it remains mild into February I might plant them out and cover in fleece if we get some cold snaps.
heated_propagator
As planned for January 1st I’ve also sown my giant leeks! I’ve used a blanch variety called Mammoth from Seed Parade. I’ve put these in my heated propagator to give them the best possible start. I’m growing them for a competition so I’ll post updates as I go along. I’ve never grown leeks like this before and really I’ve got no idea what I’m doing to be honest! I’m also going away on holiday next week and I’ll have to turn the propagator off then so they could be a bit of a flop. Watch this space!
sweetpeas_seedlings
I’ve also got some sweet peas germinating. Four different varieties, again from Seed Parade, there is a theory that getting them going earlier can lead to better plants so as 2013 is my year for experimentation I’m going to try this and sow some in spring too so I can compare.

I continuously sow salads and have a new experimental batch growing. Four varieties again from Seed Parade, Mixed Baby Leaf, Organic Lettuce Bowl, Arctic king and All Year Around. Even though I grow a lot of salads I am unsure what will happen with these. I sow all year round but have never done a fresh start like this before in December. They are looking a bit leggy and would benefit from having the top windowsill spot really but that’s been claimed.

Other than that I think I’ll save sowing anything else until February, or at least until after I get back from my holiday. I did a bit of pottering at the allotment on New Year’s Day, just tidying things up and making the place look at bit more presentable. While I was there I had a bit of a snoop and spotted a giant cabbage on one of the plots! I don’t think my photo really highlights just how big it is, quite beastly.
giant_cabbage
What have you got growing on?

Gardening gifts – I got some, yes!

garden_bottle_tealight_lanterns
Before Christmas I bought and made some garden related presents and the whole time I was secretly wishing someone would give me some prezzies for the garden. Well, my wishes must have been heard. Pictured above are some awesome glass tea-light holders from my mother-in-law, she must know just how much I like night gardening.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have bought me some cool seeds in the past and this year they topped up my collection for the new year with some very interesting veg varieties. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with these soon. I think 2013 is going to be my year for going all out and trying new things, I just hope the weather is better and won’t come along and destroy my attempts.
seeds
I am also totally buzzing with my new bee hotels! A simple one from my brother and a 5 star version from friends, who referred to visiting my garden in the new year as the ‘bee resort’. Luckily I love bees and welcome them to my plot. A couple of years back I did some ‘bee walks’ for BBCT and noted a general lack of flowers for bees in my area. Once the plants in my local park stopped flowering there were literally no bees in there, yet there’s an abundance of flowering plants that the council could have used to attract them from spring to autumn but they didn’t think to plant for bees. So, anything I can do to help protect bees and encourage them, I will do. I’ve had bees nesting in my garden before and it’s been great watching them flying around doing their work.
IMG_8368My other garden related present was this lovely handmade row marker which was actually a secret santa gift from a work colleague. I’m hoping this will help me achieve the professionally planted rows that I long for.
garden_veg_row_markers
Adam’s mum gave him these cool hooks for the shed he will be building in the new year. I can’t wait for that!
digtheoutside_trowel_hooks
Slightly off subject but maybe a vision of the future, this extraordinary chicken calendar. One day maybe I will own some of these ‘extraordinary’ creatures!
digtheoutside_extraordinary_chickens_with_text

Can you tell that I’m getting excited for the new growing season? Did you get any cool garden related presents?

Thanks for all your comments and support this year. Wishing you all a very happy new year :)

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.

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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 ?
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  • 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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