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» Wrapping up in the October garden
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Reflections on the seaon 2017

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default Reflections on the seaon 2017

Post by Chilli-head on 26th September 2017, 6:17 pm

It's a bit early perhaps, but it looks properly like autumn now, and I'm getting the chimney swept ready for the burining season tomorrow so ... How did 2017 go for you in the garden ? What varieties were star performers, and what seeds could you as well have left in the packet ? And, most importantly, what will you do next year in the light of this ?

For everyone I think, it has been the year of the bean. Too many beans. Freezer filled to bursting, and struggling to give them away. But because it has been such a good year for beans, I'm wary of overreacting and sowing too few next year. As it is I plan to drop the climbing french beans, especially Cobra. It used to do really well, into November some years, but results have gradually got worse for me and now it has been a few years since I had a good yield. Enough. On the other hand, dwarf beans Faraday and Amethyst grown on my Hugelkultur bed have been exceptional for yield and quality, definitely a grow again. I will keep the Italian climbing bean Stortino di Trento, which is very late and so picks up where the dwarf beans finish. And the drying beans of course, great for chilli.

Gem squash Rolet and pumpkin Conneticut field have also been very productive, though not so a butternut squash labelled Early Butternut, which have cracked with the irregular rain, I've still to find a better butternut than the ones from the Organic Garden Catalogue.

Chilllies - what went wrong ? Very slow to get going, though I do have a crop of Jamaican Yellow, Aji Lemon Drop and some Mexican varieties - Mulato etc. Tomatoes got off to an enthusiastic start, cherries did well, larger types fizzled out early. Trouble is two of the new cherry types I didn't like - Rosella (fidly small, though tasty) and Golden Crown (too sweet without balancing acidity).

The experiment of trying to do without netting on leeks and brassica is probably not one to repeat. Caterpillars. Lots of them. Good job I'm not a vegetarian !

Oh, carrot Atomic red was great, though Red Samurai were a complete failure, even though adjacent. Who knows why ?
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Post by freebird on 26th September 2017, 8:45 pm

I started the year with weed-infested plots as always. Late preparing them, so plants that needed an early start were bought in. My discovery of no-dig cultivation came at exactly the right moment. With the exception of lettuces and radishes, everything I have grown has been as good as my previous best, or better. And even better is that the plots on which they were grown look as good and weed-free now, at the end of harvest time, as they did at the beginning. Maintenance has been minimal, freeing up time to make progress on bringing the rest of the area to a state ready for production next year.

I can't name any star performers as everything has been good.
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Post by Ploshkin on 26th September 2017, 9:21 pm

That sounds like a great success Freebird.  I must look into no dig.  My beds have just vanished under weeds this season.  I think the later wet weather after being dry and hot caused them to grow very quickly.

A second very good year in the polytunnel is making me rethink things.
Some bought in French bean plants for an early crop gave me more beans than I could cope with until I evicted the plants at the end of August.  I didn't need to have 3 other bean varieties in the garden - despite my best efforts a lot have been wasted.  

The same goes for courgettes - one plant in the polytunnel started really early and is still producing more fruit than I can use.  The 2 in the garden just got ignored.  The chickens have enjoyed the big fat courgettes.

I have always grown 12 tomato plants in my greenhouse but in the polytunnel each plant is producing at least 4 times as much and bigger too so I may halve the number next year.
Same story with potatoes (there's a theme emerging here)  6 tubers of extra earlies produced so much that I didn't get to harvest my earlies in the garden until late.  I may do fewer in the garden and do second earlies instead.
Melons are definitely for repeating.
I am never going to bother with aubergines again.  I only get fruit from the very earliest pollination and that's hit and miss.

I have grown stuff outside too.  Cabbages are first class - they're growing in the 2 beds that got mountains of muck last year.  I'm hoping for some decent sprouts but they seem a bit lacklustre at the moment.
I'm not sure why I can't seem to grow carrots outside any more, I never used to have any problem but in recent years I haven't been able to get them to germinate.  Polytunnel to the rescue again.  One drainage ring has kept us in carrots all summer and a second one is ready to harvest.
One thing I have decided is that these fashionable crosses and aren't worth bothering with.  Brokali went to flower before I could blink.

I've had no soft fruit at all this year, the birds had the lot.  I'm going to have to renovate my area where the fruit bushes are and replace beds that have started to rot.  It is likely to get a whacking great trench dug through the patch next year as we are going on to mains water so time for a redesign which I think will incorporate a fruit cage.
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Post by Dandelion on 27th September 2017, 9:26 pm

It's really interesting, reading what has gone well in everyone's gardens.

I cut down what I was growing this year because of the family wedding in the spring - I had to make life a bit simpler. We still had too much for just the two of us in the summer, and a lot of things were ready all at the same time.
Next year I'm going to be a bit more careful with planning, so that crops are spaced out more. I'm thinking at the moment that at some point I may use one raised bed for asparagus. Maybe next year or the year after?

I wasn't too happy with my tomatoes. Latah is very early, but I didn't find the fruits particularly tasty, so I'll leave that variety next year. I'm going to be a bit more selective. I also need to find a better fertilizer (I use Easy 2 grow modules in the greenhouse but I object to paying silly money for the special fertilizer. I tried some push-in plugs to feed the toms, but they didn't do much. Now I've found out that there is a way to test liquid fertilizers to check that they won't clog up the pipes which I'll do next year)

I grew more flowers this year, which seemed to attract a lot more bees, so I'll be doing that again.
This is one of the things I love about growing plants - there's always an improvement you can make next season!

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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 FloBear on 27th September 2017, 9:51 pm

Interesting point about liquid fertilisers bunging up the tubes, Dandelion. I've only used my Easy2grow pots a couple of times (not this year, the GH ws storing stuff) and didn't know about that.
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Post by freebird on 27th September 2017, 10:29 pm

I had bunged up tubes in mine too, Dandelion. The only liquid fertiliser I use is the wormery liquid. Despite straining it and diluting it, it still clogged the tubes. This year I used no fertiliser at all in the water reservoirs, and just fed the plants once or twice a week with the dilute liquid in a watering can. Seemed to work all right. Doing it that way means I can tailor the fertiliser to the plant, so the cucumbers got a more nitrogen based one.
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Post by Chilli-head on 27th September 2017, 10:36 pm

I don't know the easy2grow system - are the pipes, tanks etc all black or at least opaque? It will readily clog with algae if not.
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Post by freebird on 28th September 2017, 1:45 pm

They are opaque, CH. The water reservoirs are a thick, dark green plastic and the tubing is black. It is a very narrow gauge though, so doesn't take much to bung it up, even though there is a filter on the upstream end.

They can be a bit of a faff, servicing ready for the new season, but well worth it for me. I really can't commit to watering every day.
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Post by Dandelion on 28th September 2017, 4:45 pm

What I read about liquid fertilzers was to stir a teaspoonful into a glass of water, leave overnight, and if there was no sediment on top of the glass, then it would be OK for the Easy 2 Grow system.But I might try watering from the top once a week first - it sounds more straightforward!

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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 FloBear on 28th September 2017, 5:30 pm

Perhaps I could ask the more experienced easy2growers. I've only used my system twice or three times and I cleaned and re-used the fabric and other squares each time. Do you know if it's advisable to invest in new ones at some point?
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Post by Dandelion on 28th September 2017, 5:43 pm

Ha ha - that's just the question I would like answered! I've used my system for two seasons, and did re-use the black and metallic mats. However, I had a problem this year with roots clogging the valve. I took it apart and got all the roots out, and had no more problems, but I was thinking I might replace the metallic mats. The black ones I was thinking of hand-crafting myself - it looks like pretty bog standard weed proofing membrane, so I thought I would buy a metre and cut some out myself. The one downfall of the system is that they expect you to buy all their expensive accessories, and I'm sure that's how they make the bulk of their profit!

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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 freebird on 28th September 2017, 9:35 pm

I have used mine every year for ... errm ... five years maybe? Haven't so far replaced anything. The metallic mats are completely knackered, but I haven't found that the root growth has caused a problem. I did manage to break one of my aquavalves so will need to replace that.
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