Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Oh dear....

Yes, I know it's been 4 months since I last posted but I have to admit I kinda fell out of love with the allotment this year.  Not sure why, really.  I think I just got a bit fed up with the sheer graft and unending hard work involved, so a big part of me just thought 'bugger it' and I left it alone over the summer.  Of course now the grass is knee-high and the weeds are rampant and I've got no-one to blame but myself *sigh*.

I didn't entirely abandon it over the summer, I worked like a demon to get it in shape for the mid-June inspection but after that just did the minimum, really.  Produce was still grown and harvested - this year, for example, my pattypan squash (white scalloped bush squash, or whatever it's called - looks like flying saucers) were far more prolific than last year and I was giving them away.  But sadly no-one else seemed to like them as much as me and The Lovely Husband did - sliced and fried in butter and olive oil with garlic and chilli - yum!

My carrots this year - the handful of them I got - were a roaring success.  I sowed one of the anti-carrot fly variety - either Resistafly or Flyaway, can't remember which (sorry, that's a bit rubbish, isn't it?) - and the carrots were magnificent; big, straight with practically no tunnels to speak of.  Just a shame that germination was appalling.  Oh well, I'll try again next year.

This year's Sweetcorn was a massive disappointment - out of 12 plants I think we only got 4 decent cobs and half the plants never grew taller than my knees.

Beetroot did pretty well, though, and I'm still harvesting them and pickling them.

I grew less Cobra French Climbing Beans this year and consequently didn't have enough to put in the freezer (last year I got 40 lbs of the buggers which was waaaay too much - people got fed up with me begging them to take some, hence the decision to grow less this year).

My Butternut Squash has been good this year - I've got 9 squashes so far, of a decent size, waiting to be harvested and the Courgettes have been good as well.

Onions were disappointing - as it was a remarkably dry summer I made the effort to do a lot of watering in the hope that (a) they'd survive and (b) get big.  They accomplished (a) but not (b).  I've left them in the ground to overwinter and see what happens next year, just as an experiment.

Likewise with my potatoes.  I grew one row of red Desiree and one row of white International Kidney.  I've dug up a few of the plants but the spuds themselves are not that big yet, so I'll leave them.

I'm a little concerned about my brassicas as well.  My brussels sprouts (which we love in this house and which have been very successful in previous years) are alarmingly short - I'm hoping they'll grow a bit more yet.  Ditto my Dwarf Curly Green Kale - I don't think they're meant to be quite as dwarf as they currently are...

I'm not even going to tell you about the soft fruit this year - hardly any strawberries from about 65 plants, barely a handful of blueberries and just the one punnet from my many raspberries.  Very sad indeed.  No loganberries to speak of this year (compared to loads last year) but at least one of my three gooseberry bushes was fairly prolific.

As for the 'orchard' end of the allotment, as this was the first year for the apples, pear and plum trees, I was advised to remove all the blossoms so that subsequent fruit harvests would be prolific, so I've got that to be disappointed with next year.

So, as you can see, it's not really been terribly good this year and I'm not sure why.  Ho hum.  There's always next year, I suppose.

The one interesting thing that has happened, though, is that, based on this particular blog of mine, I've been asked to review a book called "Weeds" by Richard Mabey.  I'm not one of those people who will umm and ahh about the 'integrity' of their website and whether or not they should allow themselves to be used as free publicity - hell, no-one ever offers me free stuff so I say 'bring it on'!  I'll post an honest review of it when I've read it.  How exciting!


  1. Hey Mrs J, I've been there! ...for about 12 years when I clung on not paying the plot enough attention while other life events took priority. The children lost interest, MOH got a job teaching, the kids are now at Uni or teaching in Japan so yours truly suddenly finds he has time to devote to the 'frivolity' of the allotment. Ironically productivity has gone up with fewer mouths to feed. Answer - increase diversity and stagger production. But back to your situation. Sounds like you've got the foundations for future production. Just start your the new growing year here and now. Get some fertility in with the autumn dig, check your ph and lime where your next year's brassica patch. Deal with the perrenial weeds while the winter takes care of the annuals... (All things I am reminding myself to address)

    Richard Mabey is the "Food for Free" man so don't be surprised if he tells you which weeds you can eat. "Eat your weeds" has always appealed to me as a slogan. But since getting a dog I wouldn't collect them in the "wild" unless it really was the countryside.

    Looking forward to seeing your progress!

  2. Our sprouts are also a bit of a disaster - no let's be blunt a complete disaster

  3. I can give a tip for the sweetcorn,
    Bring it on from chitted seed and in "root trainers" in the first few weeks until you have nice healthly established seedlings, from there when they get about 5-6inchs tall carefully plant them out.

    I use trefoil as an undercarpet to cut down on weeds

  4. Oddly my brussels are looking very good this year - but i did invest in a hose this year (and forgot to turn it off a couple of times so they got some good soakings. My shallots were a bit disappointing - I don't bother with onions as I am the only one who eats them. My spuds were pretty good too - but they benefitted from the hose too as they were next to the brussels. My sweetcorn was a waste of space!

  5. I think the early hot dry spell (remember it, in June/July?) kept everything back especially after the long cold spring. My first lot of sweetcorn failed completely and the plants from the local garden shop didn't do very well either. Like you, our courgettes were good thanks to the rain in August/September.
    Did you plant your onions in autumn or spring? I find autumn is the best time, we had a good crop this year - and great garlic.


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