So what happened this year?
Well for starters it was an extremely poor start. January saw me fighting off a lingering lung infection which required a couple of trips to hospital. But on the plus side, I got to take part in the Greenliving Forum's Seed Swap.
February saw me start getting the new greenhouse put up. This actually took quite a while due to the lack of glass, but it did get put to good use throughout the rest of the year as the Tomato and Chilli house (oh and Carrots too).
March saw the completion of the afore mentioned greenhouse and the start of our actual planting as well as preparation for this years courgette mound.
April we got hit hard by a late frost. It's unusual to get frosts here in the centre of London due to the heat island effect, but this one almost wiped out our courgettes, and did wipe out our sweetcorn. Fortunately we had corn to spare and some of our courgettes survived.
May was warm. Really warm. Unseasonably warm. Time for a Barbecue. But it also saw the first of the Bread Club's visits to a working flour mill.
Blooming June was just that. Loads of flowers (keep the Wife happy) and the start of harvest-able veggies (keeps me happy).
July paved the way for this year's courgette season to really get rolling.
By August we were into peak production across the board. Many things were ripening and we started enjoying fresh potatoes and yet more courgettes.
September rolled on and we were getting pretty sick of courgettes by now. Fortunately we could now start combining them with our own tomatoes to make chutneys and jams and even get to show off the Bread making skills at the Produce show.
October finally things started to slow down. Once again our carrots were forked sixteen way to Monday, but they still tasted wonderful.
By November we'd finished with courgettes (finally), and made a start securing the new addition of an extra rod which has been added to the plot, and we also harvested what we could of the Cape Gooseberries.
And by December, it was all over.
So lets go over some of the more specifics that we did.
Apples - The apple tree didn't carry as much fruit this year as it has on previous years. I tried using a moth trap to see if I could cut down on the number of maggot infested apples. I'm not sure how well it worked as we had less infested apples, but we also had less of a crop. The apple tree however will soon have a major trim to tidy it up and make access to it easier. I have also removed the Bramley (never really produced well) and the third apple tree (which has never produced anything anyway).
Artichoke - The artichoke had a huge thinning as it was partly in the way of the flower bed which I built last winter. But even so it once again produced a load of bee friendly blooms.
Beans - Dismal failure. We tried for borlotti beans again this year, but I fear the slugs were rather ravenous and they didn't recover.
Beetroot - Only a single bed this year. But even then that was more than enough to produce a whole load of delicious beetroots. And some even got turned into bread.
Blueberry - Getting bigger and better ever year. Though I will have to cut them back this winter.
Cape Gooseberry - Prolific is the word I would have to use. However it should be noted that the plants in the beds but more effort into growing foliage rather than fruits. Whereas those in pots soon got root bound, but did produce a substantial quantity of fruits. Perhaps limiting their nutrient intake is the better option.
Carrots - Forked. Again. But tasted wonderful in soup.
Chilli - We produced a pretty impressive quantity this year. Certainly we'll have to do the same again next year. We dried and crushed them, and now they feature regularly in our meals.
Courgettes - We lost count at around the 130 mark. I reckon we had over 150 of them. Fortunately we can trade them for cheese or eggs with our neighbours. So it's a win-win all round. We did try de-hydrating them this year. They took 24 hours in a low heat oven to dry, and that seemed to go OK. But when re-hydrating them, they just turned to mush and tasted foul. So either less main courgettes or we need to switch to growing winter squash instead.
Flowers - The new flower bed did wonder and the Wife was really pleased. So much so that now she wants even more flower growing areas.
Grapes - Seemed grow OK... but once again somebody went and pinched them off the vine. Have to definitely rig a camera trap to catch the culprit.
Lavender - We lost our planted lavender, so now we have potted ones. And they did really well this year. Next year hopefully they'll be even better.
Leaf Beet - One of our front beds to totally given over the Leaf Beets and it's in constant production. A good staple.
Onions - Well they grew, of sorts. The problem was that they were so small as to not really be worth pursuing. So maybe I'll re-plant them this winter and see if they can produce something decent this year.
Pak Choi - Again they grew... but didn't really like the greenhouse. Seemed to be lamky and tasteless. But if I had planted them outside they would have been devoured by the slugs. So I guess they dodn't win either way. We probably won't be growing them again.
Potatoes - Didn't do so well this year. Very small results. But growing them in bags is a useful way to get them going so we're going to be doing the same again.
Rhubarb - Does nothing stop this plant? I'll have to make even more Rhubarb and Ginger Jam next year.
Strawberries - The Wife wants a strawberry empire. She's already earmarked one of the new beds to be another dedicated strawberry bed next year. And she also wants a vertical grow wall at the rear of the greenhouse too. And lets not mention the strawberry towers. Fortunately, I like strawberries too.
Sunflowers - The Giant Russians didn't germinate. But the smaller ones did put on quite a decent show.
Tomatoes - They just kept on coming. Though the larger ones didn't really ripen properly, so I suspect that we're going to standardise on cherry toms next year.
A few points of note.
- Firstly there was a distinct lack of Black Fly this year. Not sure why but we didn't get any on our Artichoke or other plants. None whatsoever. I really have no explanation for this, but it's good to see.
- Secondly I'll be more wary of late frosts. We carry over our courgettes seeds from one year to the next. This year we gave away a lot of our seeds and seed marrow to neighbours. So when we lost a lot in the late frost, we were almost wiped out in the courgette area. That however has been our biggest producer each year, and we use it as a staple in trading favours with our neighbours.
- Thirdly we're going to have to start inter-planting a bit more. Especially when it comes to the Cape Gooseberries. They will be better used as possible ground cover in amongst the sweetcorn.
So what about next year? Well we now have a bit more room to play with. We have the soil in an excellent position to carry us forward so things are looking good. Here's to the next growing season.