Monday, September 20, 2010

The Highs and Lows of This Year's Growing Season

Now we are reaching the end of the main growing season, it seems like a good time to reflect back on how things have gone this year. For me, I have to say it has not been great. But let's start with this year's successes. The potatoes have done very well. I grew some second earlies which tasted fantastic, but there were not that many of them. I also grew some main crop, which tasted fairly average, but there were loads of them. I can't remember the variety of either - I must get better at taking more notice of these things.

The sweetcorn did OK (had the last of them today). Not as many as previous years, but not bad. We had a decent crop of garlic, although they were rather on the small side. The courgettes were rather slow to get going, but producing nicely now. This year I tried growing butternut squash for the first time - it looks like we are going to have several of various sizes. They are still green at present and I assume they will take on their familiar yellow-brown colour at some point later.

Everything else on the veg plot has been pretty poor. The reasons for this can be summed up in three words: chickens, water and vineweed. The chickens have been the main culprit though. In previous years they have not particularly bothered with the veg plot, but this year they have been terrible, constantly coming into the plot and digging up seedlings and seeds as soon as I put them in . As a result I lost all my peas, most of my onions, and several of my leeks, parsnips and carrots. Despite my attempts at chicken-proofing the plot they still got in and caused mayhem. After a while I gave up as I was getting nowhere.

The lack of rain early in the season didn't help things and I could have done better at watering my plants. I am wondering if this is why my garlic was on the small side. In the greenhouse, my crops failed due to being left unwatered when we went on holiday. No amount of watering when we returned really brought them back to life.

Also in the veg plot I have been having a problem with vineweed. I don't know where it has suddenly sprung from, but as soon as I pull it up, more appears and spreads very quickly strangling the growth out of everything in its wake.

We have had better success with fruit. A record harvest of gooseberries, and a decent crop of blackcurrants and redcurrants. The damson tree just produces more and more each year, and the pear trees continue to faithfully produce a decent crop every year. The apples have been more mixed though. Our two main apple trees have not produced a single apple between them - we presume this was due to late frosts earlier in the year killing off the blossom. Our smaller trees however, which are in a more sheltered spot, produced their usual amount. We also had a decent amount of cooking apples.

Had I been taking my produce to the market place then I would have been excited to see how people will love them.

All in all, not a complete disaster, but could have been better. My main job for the autumn and winter then - making sure that the veg plot is well and truly chicken proof!!!

How has your growing season been?

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Jo said...

I think it's been a mixed year for all gardeners this year due to the late frosts and dry summer. It sounds like your fruit has done really well for you. said...

I think everyone has there up's and brassicas all got totally massacred by flea beetle this year so I had none over summer/autumn

Potatoes were great as was squash, sweetcorn and carrots...will be doing some full posts on successes and failures pretty soon so you will be able to catch up then!!

Margaret said...

Good to hear your year has been much the same as it has been here in Tipperary! :) Had great fruit, poor tomatoes, very few peas, lots of beans, good carrots and at the moment fighting caterpillars on cabbages and b. sprouts!