Sunday, January 21, 2018

2017.... A Review

Well we had weather that couldn't make up its mind with warm start then a cold/wet snap followed by hot and dry, which made things interesting.

We were fairly lucky with the pests this year, not a single slug pellet was needed, the pigeons didn't really get a look in and the carrot fly were kept away. The biggest disaster was the allium leaf miner which destroyed all the garlic, shallots and onions, and might be having a crack at the leeks which look, well a bit wimpy. The usual tomato blight hit hard, but I have an experiment for that one next year, and a bit of blackfly.

Crops wise everything was either really good, or an utter failure!

The good bits -

Courgettes - Obviously looking at the final count.
Sweetcorn - The best year ever, will definitely grow those this year
Beans - All 3 varieties got a bit carried away and we are still eating them from the freezer
Spaghetti squash  - which we are still working our way through
Potatoes - A good crop of both mains and earlies.
Carrots - A good crop and flavour from the carrot fly resistant varieties with less work covering and uncovering to pick and weed etc. some non resistant varieties got a small attack when left in t he ground a little late but still good.
Cucumbers - I'd always grown Marketmore, but the Burpless Tasty Green are now the way forward.
Rhubarb - A big crop from some older plants, which I'm thinking I must split the root at some point.

The bad bits:

Peas - Were not on the menu this year, several sowings all came to nothing
Summer PSB - Bolted as soon as you looked at it
Celery - Wasn't really worth the effort and arrived too late to be of much use.
Onions, shallots and Garlic - Totally destroyed by leaf miner. Which seems to a spreading problem reading the forums.
Kale - In fairness the only failure here was that the kale plants I bought, turned out to be cabbages.

At the beginning of the season I wrote an article on good intentions, so how did I do?

1. Thin out beetroot, radishes, turnips carrots etc -- We did  pretty well on this and the crops were better for it. they looked less squashed as well.

2. Use fleece or cloches more -- Cloches yes, and the early start to salads etc in Feb will be done again. fleece not so much as no frosts etc threatened us.

3. Use mulches -- I used all the grass cuttings I could get to mulch round squashes and onions and planted a lot through weed control fabrics. There was noticeable difference in weeding and watering requirements.

4. Not burying squashes -- Failed, I forgot to build my mounds. That said I didi put plastic bottles in the ground near the roots and water through those so that helped.

5. More regular feeding - A lot better this year, but some more organisation needed. Most things seemed to do ok with what was provided though.

6. Test the soil - Was done, using a probe tester, all within limits, I haven't checked for this year yet.

I feel I'm a little behind this year already as I haven't had a serious look at the seed catalogues yet. The planning for this season needs to get a serious move on. Sounds like the ideal job for a wet Sunday in Essex!!

Happy gardening folks!!

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