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Reflections on the season, 2013

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default Reflections on the season, 2013

Post by Chilli-head on 21st November 2013, 5:12 pm

So another growing season passes.  All but the leeks and parsnips are on their way out.  Another year of challenging weather, with the slow, cold start to the season then straight to warm and dry, but what did well for you ?  Are there any varieties, new discoveries or old friends, that have shone ?

For me, a few things stand out and go on to my "grow again" list.  Squashes did well, in the end.  Old favourite pumpkin Conneticut field came good with a big one for the halloween lantern, and a couple of smaller spares for eating.  The unnamed butternut squash fron the Organic garden catalogue made some excellent fruits, again proving that it is far better than all those F1 varieties.  And new discovery of the year is a little bush tomato, Red Robin, which produces loads of nice cherry fruit on cute little plants ideal for patio pots.  Seeds of Italy's butter bean Fagiolo di Spagna remained a great performer, huge fat butter beans (think Jack and the Beanstalk !), that make an absolutely lovely gigantes-plaki - Greek beans in tomato sauce.  Still with Seeds of Italy, their Celeriac del Veneto, despite a slow start, produced quite useable sized roots in the end.

Blackcurrants (Ebony) and raspberries (Polka) were abundant, and I've got plenty of jam left for morning toast, and a few jars to spare for Christmas gifts.

Ah, must mention too that Squash Sweet Dumpling, from the seed swap (thanks whoever put them in ...) were great.  They went particularly well hollowed out, roasted, filled with chilli and topped with cheese.

Disasters ... not too many.   Strawberries almost died through drought, being on the highest ground of my allotment.  Normally a great performer, climbing bean Cobra were sparse - I guess they got going too late.

So, all in all, not a bad year for me in the end Smile How about you ?
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default Re: Reflections on the season, 2013

Post by Dandelion on 22nd November 2013, 6:04 pm

It was a brilliant year for tomatoes (about time too) - favourites were Yellow Brandywine, some unnamed cherry tomatoes from a friend (they were supposed to be something else!), Black Russian and the intriguing hollow Yellow Stuffers. Apples have done well, rhubarb was phenominal (Timperley Early, but the Champagne I thought had perished last year has survived, and may be big enough to pick next year). Unlike a lot of others I didn't have a particularly good year for courgettes and squashes - I may have sowed a bit early, while it was still cold, and they never really got going. A few butternuts (puny F1s...), some courgettes and marrows, but never enough to be a nuisance or make neighbours pretend to be out.
My big gift from the seed swap were Blue Kew climbing French beans - beautiful to look at, tender and cropped well. Thank you to the donor!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 24th November 2013, 11:19 am

Courgettes, squashes  tomatoes & runner beans did best for me this year.  I will definitely be repeating Uchiki Kuri squashes  and Black Cherry tomatoes.
I struggled getting carrots to germinate but have now got an excellent crop for the winter.  I think I might have a few parsnips lurking too.
Brassicas were comprehensively ravaged by caterpillars but I managed to rescue the 'long stayers' & have got some good winter cabbages, Brussel sprouts & kale to see us through the winter.  Strangely enough some of my spring cabbages, from seed sown in August 2012, that I left to the caterpillars, have had a regrowth & I have had some good hearted cabbages.  The variety is Advantage which I have always found good for successional sowing.
Soft fruits are always reliable here, apples were non existent but had my first ever decent crop of Victoria Plums, enough to make some jam.
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Post by Dandelion on 24th November 2013, 4:12 pm

Thanks for the recommendation of Advantage - I may try that

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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default Re: Reflections on the season, 2013

Post by freebird on 25th November 2013, 9:32 am

Courgettes were my star turn outside, and chillies in the greenhouse. Tomatoes both in and out were the best I've had for some years, although considerable room for improvement. All beans and peas verging on disastrous - finally had some runner beans late in the season - oh, except for some earlier French beans in the greenhouse, which were lovely. Garlic was my first uniformly successful crop, and onions looked good at harvest time. Disappointed to find that quite a large number are rotting from the root end. Never come across this problem before.

Apples have been lovely, especially our old tree, Maidstone Favourite. First ever crop of Victoria plums, and the autumn raspberries (Polka) have just gone on and on and on.
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default Re: Reflections on the season, 2013

Post by Chilli-head on 25th November 2013, 9:47 am

freebird wrote:onions looked good at harvest time. Disappointed to find that quite a large number are rotting from the root end. Never come across this problem before.
Was it a witte, fluffly sort of fungus on there ? If so, it could be onion white rot. It is a pain; can survive several years in the ground to re-infect future crops. The traditional solution was to avoid growing onions in the same place for, oh, 7 years. Or you could live with it (as I do) or try Fred Crowe's method see this thread for a summary.
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Post by freebird on 25th November 2013, 12:27 pm

Chilli-head wrote:
Was it a witte, fluffly sort of fungus on there ?  
No, not that I noticed. A few that I dug up had no roots left at all, and were slightly hollowed at the root end to a greater or lesser extent,, and rotting up through the layers. I thought at first it might be slugs. However, I discarded all that were like that, but have had quite a few more develop the same problem in storage, so it's obviously not slugs.

I have seven plots, so could actually have a seven year rotation. I do find though, that I seem to have had more, and much worse pest and disease problems in recent years than I ever had when I first started growing vegetables in the garden. It had a fallow period (aka totally overgrown), for a good many years - at least 7 or 8 - when no veg were grown at all, and I have only been growing more seriously again for about the last 5-6 years. I find it hard to believe that I could be experiencing a build-up problem, as nothing has grown in the same place yet.
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default Re: Reflections on the season, 2013

Post by Chilli-head on 25th November 2013, 12:38 pm

I think I have experienced a very similar thing;  I think it is most likely that the weather has been worse !  When I first took the allotment I had a few years when everything seemed to grow well, but increasingly it is a battle - some of it is new pests arriving - muntjac displaced by nearby housing development, the arrival of leek moth, etc - but a lot of the problems are down to weather.  It simply hasn't done the right thing at the right time for the last few years - either hot and parched when you need moist for germination, or cold and wet when you need warm for growing on, or no sun when you need the tomatoes to ripen, or so wet you need to harvest potatoes with a fishing net !

Editied to add -the other thing I wonder, though, about crop rotation, is whether the separation of our garden / allotment beds is really far enough to avoid pests following the crops. Certainly for anything with a modicum of mobility - insect pests e.g., I can't move things far enough. I wonder whether, at a domestic scale, it isn't all a bit of a myth Shocked 
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Post by Ploshkin on 25th November 2013, 3:27 pm

Chilli Head wrote:-the other thing I wonder, though, about crop rotation, is whether the separation of our garden / allotment beds is really far enough to avoid pests following the crops. Certainly for anything with a modicum of mobility - insect pests e.g., I can't move things far enough. I wonder whether, at a domestic scale, it isn't all a bit of a myth
You may be on to something there - when you are growing in a garden surrounded by other veg growing gardens or an allotment plot surrounded by other plots, infected material would be easily distributed by birds, mice etc.  I grow my veg in the garden & only do a 2 or 3 year rotation (if that).  I have been growing in the same beds for 15 years now & do not appear to have had a build up of anything untoward.  The only thing I have stopped growing is onions after 5 cold, wet summers that caused them to bolt & I don't grow maincrop potatoes because of blight.  However, it is at least a mile to a little street of houses with tiny gardens where there are a couple of veg growers & on all other sides at least 2 miles to any other house that may grow veg.
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Post by Dandelion on 25th November 2013, 5:09 pm

I try to rotate crops over a four year rotation, and I'm really careful about re-using compost from the potato bags on ground where tomatoes are growing the next year to avoid spreading blight. However, when we have the vast potato fields of Tyrells not far away, it's going to take more than crop rotation to keep the blight at bay!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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