Monday, 14 December 2015

End of year roundup

So it's been a busy old year down the allotment.

What has worked well, and what didn't? Well this year I started getting the beds into shape. Still have a few more beds to build and there is the ever present threat of bindweed and brambles. Those I suspect will be an ever ongoing battle. But by having clearly defined growing spaces it's easier to pull what shouldn't be there.

So here is a full list of everything:

  • Apples - Good crop. Certainly better than last year. But again infested with maggots.
  • Artichoke - More blooms than last year. Bees really loved it. One of these years we may actually eat some of them.
  • Beetroot - Again a pretty good success. New batches of pickled beetroot were produced as well as them being in copious salads and dinners.
  • Blueberries - Produced more than last year. So they're on their way. Next year they will have to go into larger pots in spring.
  • Borlotti Beans - A goodly amount. Though suffered slightly from mildew. There was a sufficient amount that it will be worth trying again next year, with this years resulting beans.
  • Carrots - Despite adding sand to this years bags, they came out all deformed. Still edible, where you could actually get something of a reasonable size. But even so, still no a success by anybodies measures.
  • Cauliflower - Hmmm. They seems to be coming along nicely, then after the rains they suddenly turned to mush without getting to any really decent size. Not sure what went wrong there.
  • Courgettes - Yeah, for the third year running these have been a runaway success. Good job we really like courgettes. Next year definitely have to get around to trying my hand in drying them.
  • Flowers - The wife loved the flowers this year. Foxgloves, Cosmos, poppies and loads of other varieties. She's going to be taking over more of the plot next year. Guess I may as well try and put up with it.
  • Grapes - We actually had some this year. Previous years had seen them stolen off the vine (and no it wasn't the birds, birds don't take the stalks as well). They were sweet but a little tart. Suspect they may be wine grapes as opposed to dessert grapes.
  • Herbs - Hmm. Partial success. The herb bed was just a scattering of various seeds. Unfortunately the haphazard way of planting also resulting in a multitude of weeds taking hold which kind of throttled the herbs. The Basil withered, the thyme seems to have survived though so maybe it's not a great loss. We'll probably rip it out and try anew next year though.
  • Kale - Grew brilliantly. Loads of leaves all ready to eat... and then the pigeons discovered it.
  • Leaf Beet - Big success. They went to seed this year, so in the bottom of the leaf beet bed, there are hundreds of seedlings. Looking forward to a good crop next year.
  • Leeks - Never really amounted to anything. Anyway, they're still in the ground, so maybe they'll pick up somewhat.
  • Onions - Slightly better than last year, but still not much of a size. Still two new full jars of pickled onions to replace the ones used up from last year.
  • Potatoes - Good crop of Maris Peers and Russets. A rogue one popped up in the ground as opposed to the bags.
  • Rhubarb - The large rhubarb at the front once again produced a staggering amount of stalks. More Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.
  • Runner Beans - Huge success. Some were eaten young as normal. But others were left to grow into huge bean pods which resulted in a huge addition to the soups and stews.
  • Soya Beans - Abject failure. Not one of the 50 beans I planted germinated.
  • Strawberries - Big success. The tendency of strawberries to produce runner means that these are slowly starting to take over the plot... which is no bad thing.
  • Sweet Potato - Despite an early failure these were a reasonable success. Will be bother again? Probably not. The corms that were produced seemed a little on the small side. Plenty of them, but it makes cooking rather tricky. 
  • Tomatoes - the smaller cherry toms did really well. But the outside larger ones were less so. For one, the Black Russian ones didn't have much taste. Nice colour, but we won't be growing those again. Cherries however are now a firm favourite.

Cooking wise, there we certainly made the most of the abundant berries and made jams galore. Both the afore mentioned Rhubarb and Ginger, and the Blackberry jams meant I was starting to run out of jam jars. The new label printer has certainly help though. Maybe I ought to think about a Plot 30 logo?

Although I mentioned it last year as something to try, I never got round to dehydrating stuff. The courgettes would be a good starting choice, but possibly the apples as well. Really must do it next year.

Anyhow, the remainder of the year will see me pulling and pushing the beds into better shape. Hopefully building some sort of cage to prevent those pesky pigeons getting in and maybe even some sort of strawberry tower. We shall see.