Saturday, 12 September 2009

Veg Review

I've just spent a few hours in my garden, pulling up weeds and dying veg plants, deadheading flowers, and cutting back perennials. I always look forward to this time of year, I can't wait to get outside and tidy up ready for winter. I probably start a bit early, but that is me all over, I love to plan ahead and organise.

My exertions got me thinking about the successes I've had in the garden this year, in particular veg and fruit, and the disasters too! What what do I want to grow again, grow more of, or not bother with?

I had great success with spring greens and broad beans, despite the snowy weather in January! Early carrots were plentiful too. Late Spring saw the first strawberries that kept coming for a month and were yummy! Early roots included more carrots and some beetroot. The red onions were superb but I just didn't plant enough sets, and the garlic bulbs dried out really well (and are still hanging in my kitchen). Salad leaves come along in waves (some weeks I have too many, others I need to buy in); I think I'd prefer hearting lettuces. Finally, the whole family 'enjoyed' a glut of courgettes, tomatoes, and French beans.

I was disappointed with my pea crop, I only ever had enough for one proper dinner, they just weren't plentiful. The brassicas were decimated by caterpillars early on and never recovered (although I enjoyed one small cauliflower!). The sprouts do look like they will do OK though, unless they get nibbled... Radishes were awful (like rocks) and later beetroots were woody (not enough water I think). The courgettes ended earlier than they might have because they got powdery mildew.

The sweetcorn also didn't do as well as they might have, I planted them according to the Three Sisters system (courgettes, beans, and sweetcorn). The courgettes and beans grew too quickly and swamped the sweetcorn so they didn't get much light, so now they are rather short plants. Some haven't flowered at all. I'm also not sure that the female flowers will have been pollinated because the beans were so dense. Anyway, that's a lesson for me!

So for next year, I am already thinking about sowing my first lot of broad beans and spring greens, plus some all-season carrots and more salad leaves. I'm not going to grow radish, cauliflower, or chard at all. I'll sow fewer courgette plants to try and avoid the gluts and mildew, and I'll sow fewer beans, but at intervals, to avoid gluts. Sweetcorn will get their own little area with the courgettes (new-style Two Sisters approach!). I'll try broccoli and sprouts again but under a proper netted cover. And I am going to grow loads of peas in my front garden so they get lots of space and sunlight! I'm looking forward to loads of strawberries and raspberries. I might even try potatoes in containers. I regretted not sowing more onions, so I will put more sets in, and sow salad onions later.

I also intend to water more, feed more, and keep on top of pests. Here's hoping.

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