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Reflections on the season - 2015

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default Reflections on the season - 2015

Post by Chilli-head on 29th October 2015, 5:47 pm

That time of year again to take a step back, reflect on how it went, and decide what to repeat next year, what new to try, and what never to bother with again !

For me, the sucess story of the year are the greenhouse crops - tomatoes, peppers, chillies and cucumbers all did well.  The tomato varieties this year included Amish Gold from the seed swap, which produced some heavyweight fruit (see here and scroll down a bit).  But most of the others did well too - Amish Paste, Royale des Guineaux, Orange banana.  Rose de Berne was a new variety to me this year, and will be one to repeat; nice largish fleshy tomatoes of good flavour.  Lots of paste tomatoes so my freezer is full of passata !

Peppers did OK, but the chillies did better ! I got about 50-60 Paper Lantern chillies from one plant, and plenty of Mulato and Pasilla for Mexican cookery.  Bigger plant pots helped this year I think, and some of the chillies thrived outdoors - contrary to my expectation, but I had run out of space in the greenhouse !

The cucumber Cuicino did well as ever, but kept going longer this year.  Perhaps the weather suited it.

Other veg at the allotment; cabbages did well, both Precoce de Louviers from The Real Seed company, and red cabbage Kalibos from the seed swap, despite the seed being many years out of date !  The cabbages produced, with the aid of a lot of manure, were so big it took the three of us three meals to eat each one. I'll grow that one again for sure. Carrots did well too, and the parsnips look promising, but I'm still waiting to lift them until we've had a good frost.

Squashes did OK for me -  got 9 butternuts and 4 pumpkins.  The butternuts could be more ripe, but ripened up OK on a shelf in the kitchen last year, so may be alright.  These were from the Organic garden catalogue, and are the most successful variety I've grown by far - I will stick with them.

Beans were more mixed - French flageoulet type Soissons did well as always, but Cobra, Kew blue and the runners finished very early.  My Greek Gigandes produced a lot, but I fear I will struggle to get the later pods to dry in time before they rot.  Still got enough for a few meals though.

Potatoes were poor.  I grew traditional varieties King Edwards and Maris Piper;  The King Edwards were not too bad, but Maris Piper had a lot of slug damage, and some were affected by late blight, though I think I rescued most in time.  The few Charlotte new potatoes did well, and I think next year I will just grow those and give the main crop a rest for a year.

How did your garden grow ?
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2015

Post by Dandelion on 29th October 2015, 8:05 pm

Rhubarb was the best it's ever been, and the Spartan apple tree was laden with fruit, as was the Jostaberry and Gooseberry. Other things were so-so, but climbing French beans were in a very sorry state. (Monty said that his French beans didn't amount to much either, so I'm in good company!)

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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 30th October 2015, 5:12 pm

Poor weather meant that outdoor crops were not good with the exception of carrots and potatoes.  Peas, beans and courgette were slow but did produce something and of course I had the great brassica failure from cabbage root fly and woolly aphid.  I do have a few cabbages now but there won't be any brussel sprouts. Squashes produced no fruit at all and they are always my staple for winter soups.  Tree fruit was a complete no show too.  In the greenhouse  I had my best ever cucumbers and strawberries (I'm still taking flowers off the potted up strawberry runners) and thanks to the extraordinarily good Autumn I've had really good tomato crops, I had a mid October glut - everything has ripened.  The stars this year though have been my garden flowers thanks to cutting down some shrubs that had outgrown the space
Chilli Head, you must give me some names of good paste tomatoes and sweet peppers as I am hopeful that I will be able to grow some in the polytunnel next season, I will certainly have a go.
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2015

Post by Chilli-head on 30th October 2015, 7:20 pm

Ploshkin wrote:
Chilli Head, you must give me some names of good paste tomatoes and sweet peppers as I am hopeful that I will be able to grow some in the polytunnel next season, I will certainly have a go.

Can I start with the easier one, paste tomatoes.  The biggest problem I have with these is that they are more susceptible to blossom end rot than any other sort.  Now it might be in part my growing system - perhaps in border soil rather than pots they would fare better.  I suspect a polytunnel would be ideal.  But having tried a few, I would recommend San Marzano Redorta from Seeds of Italy. San Marzano has the best flavour and texture for paste, and this particular strain seems to be less prone to rot.  Having said that Amish Paste was pretty good this year, and Franchi Red Pear (also Seeds of Italy) is good for eating, and is just about meaty enough for paste if you need a dual use type.

Peppers, I am still searching for a reallly reliable, high yeilding variety.  Perhaps it is my growing method.  The best results yet have been the yellow bell pepper Giallo de Asti (SOI again) and Doche d'Espagna that I bought on holiday in Portugal - they can be found over here as Dulche Espana from Kings seeds.  The latter is red, large, and slightly pointed and reminded me of the nice varieties you find in a Greek grocers.

I'm also still seeking a good small, pointed type sweet pepper; the best performer so far were some which should have been a bell pepper according to the packet, but clearly weren't. Frustratingly I never found out what they actually were !
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2015

Post by Dandelion on 31st October 2015, 11:30 am

Can you explain paste? Paste as in puree? And how do you prepare/store it?

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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 - 2015

Post by Chilli-head on 31st October 2015, 1:20 pm

That's right; puree of skinned and seeded tomato flesh. I think paste is a more American term, or passata from Italian.

To prepare - you can of course skin tomatoes and pass the pulp through a sieve (hence passata, I think). At the risk of sounding like I'm advertising Seeds of Italy ... the easy alternative is their passata press. It's bright red and plasticky, but works a treat. Cook the tomatoes in a pan, no added water, just to soften. Empty into the hopper, cramk the handle and it does the pressing and sieving, passata comes out the bottom, seeds and skin out of a separate chute. You can then freeze or bottle it to store for pasta sauces etc over winter.
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default Re: Reflections on the season - 2015

Post by Dandelion on 31st October 2015, 9:45 pm

Thank you!

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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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