2014 – where do I begin?

We were away for the festive period coming home on the 2nd of January in the dark. A neighbour said that there were tiles and slates missing from the house roof and that the greenhouse had been destroyed. I was heartbroken.

I now have a shiny new greenhouse put up last week but the seagulls have already added some decorations to the toughened glass panes. Today, I sowed some seeds in the greenhouse.

Down the plot, things got a little damp. However, on opening the shed, noticed that one of the boxes of birdfeed had been gnawed through – rat(s). Today, we emptied out the shed with a view to salvage tools and stuff after disinfecting. On a happier note, my son planted some garlic, shallot and onion sets. We also did some weeding. The goldfish are happy in the pond with at least 3 different “sizes” of fish (original, first lot of babies from 2012, babies from 2013..)

Getting into the gardening spirit this year has been slower than usual – what with the weather….. and also, our regular Potato Day end of January was not happening this year due to redevelopment/refurbishment at Garden Organic’s HQ. We found another Potato Day to go to, at a agricultural university in Shropshire in February. We bought a lot of seed potatoes (there was plenty of choice, and we were able to buy loose), and also the allium sets planted today, and some seeds. It did not have the chaotic feel that Potato Day at Ryton sometimes had. 

End of season summary – part 2

We had some mixed success with the onion family. Garlic was a bit on the small side, but we did have some decent onions (from sets I think). Leeks have been good, none have bolted (so far).

Roots have been a different story, apart from a few parsnip (luckily, no burns this time!), salsify and scorzonera. Will leave a salsify and a scorzonera to flower (they are pretty) in the spring. Carrots and beetroots decimated, both germinated OK, but something ate the beetroot leaves and didn’t recover (not even a golf ball size root). Carrots looked sad.

Potatoes were OK, although many were holey (slugs, other things), but we did have some!

Only the early sowings of peas did any good, but we did well with broad beans, and runner beans. Didn’t have that many French ones this time.

We had plenty of marrows (marrows, and not overgrown courgettes), and a couple of squash things. Marrows have kept well. We only harvested one pumpkin, was too late putting something underneath another pumpkin and so it was eaten by various creatures, turning into a mush gradually. Still, the pumpkin we harvested was nice.

End of season summary – brassicas

Brassicas

Had mixed success with brassicas this year. Many seedlings succumbed to clubroot, noticed when we were transplanting. Caterpillars were vigilantly removed, and occasionally fed to the goldfish (new acquisition this year for the pond installed last year), cabbage butterfly eggs squished (I wonder how many would be needed to make an omelette!) but some leaves still had holes made in them, by slugs. It has been a wet year so the slugs and snails have been happy.

There were a couple of heads of calabrese, and a pointy cabbage. All yummy. Yesterday, we harvested some green sprouts, although those that are left may not last until Christmas. Not to worry, we have sprouts, and they are not the easiest brassica to grow to harvest.

The savoy type cabbages are doing well (not sure which savoys…) as are the red cabbages. Lost some though.

Summer/autumn caulis didn’t really produce a good head. One was about the diameter of a tennis ball but had also been eaten by those pesky molluscs. Not sure if we have any for winter/spring, but there are some pointy-leaved brassicas still on the plot.

There is a purple sprouting broccoli sprouting purple already. Ah, Rudolph is an early one and should be cropping now.

Turnips have been good, although not enough! Should have sown more…

 

Spring, or do I mean summer?

Winter disappeared pretty quickly (no snow for us, although we did have a cold spell), but perhaps Summer has barged in knocking Spring out of the way.

We had a daffodil in flower for St. David’s Day, yay! and the daffs look great.

We now have a proper greenhouse up. Seeds have only just been sown in there, including aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, some lettuce, and herbs. Still awaiting some seeds on order (only ordered last week after the greenhouse was glazed…) – more aubergines, peppers….

Down the plot, carrots, cabbages, calabrese have been sown. All the seed potatoes have been planted, as have the garlic and onion sets (apart from the ones I bought today, more on that later). The broad beans and peas are coming up too, from an earlier sowing. We still have overwintered produce – leeks, cabbages, purple sprouting broccoli, to harvest, yay!

Today, I went to a seed and craft fair. It was a beautiful day in the historic town of Conwy. There was a small seed company (from Lancashire) with a stall. They were selling seed potatoes, onion sets, shallots, plants, and seeds. I bought a few packets of seeds, willing to give them another go. I haven’t really had all that much success with their seeds (Spinach Renegade, Winter Squash- Butternut Ponca, Basils – no germination, whereas other companies’ basils will germinate but often not got further than the first couple of leaves)., but have gone for different vegetables this time (their last chance). Seeds bought to try are Coriander Chechnya, Pepper Marconi Yellow, Basella Ceylon/Indian Spinach, Salsify, Soy Bean Envy, and Okra Clemson’s Spineless. Also bought Stuttgart Giant onion sets (the white ones – Ebenezer?, I bought from them last year were not spectacular).

However, I hope they will fare better than the advice I overheard them giving. “Only their Witkiem broad beans could be sown now” but they also had The Sutton and Bunyards Exhibition for sale too. On my seasonal seed plan pages (not recently updated with more recent acquisitions), The Sutton can be sown November, December, January, February, March, April, May, and June. Whereas Bunyards Exhibition can be sown February, March and April. And other ones sowable from March to May. Maybe I should stick with the Organic Gardening Catalogue, Simpson’s Seeds, and the big names available in garden centres to top up with.

Off to the greenhouse to sow more seeds…

The weather

It has been cold, but we haven’t had the snow that fell in other parts of the UK. We were on the allotment briefly last Wednesday (1st) and there was ice on the pond. We cracked the ice and removed it from around the edges. Some of the plants were stuck to the ice, or growing through the ice.

We went back to the plot on Friday (3rd) and new ice had formed on the pond. The piece below wasn’t the thickest bit of ice, which was 4cm thick.

The plot is looking good. We popped down on Sunday (5th) and the pond ice had almost all melted away. We had a lot of rain over the weekend. Even a lot of snow on the hills/mountains of Snowdonia has melted.

We harvested some parsnips (the ground had also thawed since last week), and a lovely savoy-type cabbage. The brassicas has been good this season. The leeks still look good too with only a few bolting. I’ll leave those to flower.

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