Thursday, August 30, 2007

Late summer report

It’s been an interesting year in the garden, and especially in the kitchen garden and on the allotment.

The summer has been cool and wet – mostly, at any rate. We’ve done spectacularly well for peas and not badly for broad beans. The runner beans, after a slow start, are doing ok. Likewise the dwarf beans. The soya beans are dying. I think it’s too cold for them at night. We’ve also done really well with the shallots and the onion sets. The onion seeds have produced wee tiny little onions. The Builder and I have decided to replant them in a new bed and see how they get on next year. We aren’t sure if we should “rest” them over the winter, so are going to transplant half and “rest” the other half and see what happens.

The corn has done nothing. It’s minute. It’s not doing anything at all. Freyja was at the York maize maze earlier this week and reports that the corn there is also much shorter than it usually is (though not as short as mine, which you couldn’t possibly make a maze with unless it was for hamsters!). The pumpkin plants are growing vigorously but aren’t producing fruit. The zucchinis are producing fruit, but not in the considerable quantity you might normally expect.

And my poor potatoes. They’ve been attacked by slugs, munched by wireworm, hit by blight. We’ve cut all the plants down and are digging up the tubers as and when we can. I have to say, they’ve produced a prodigious quantity of potatoes but the quality is somewhat impaired. The Duke of York and Arran Victory have held up quite well – about half of them are suitable for storage. Lady Balfour (maincrop) and Pink Fir Apple (salad potatoes) are even slightly better. But my poor, poor Ambos. We’ve left them in the ground so far. The first few I dug up are almost useless. Pity, because they’re a lovely potato to eat. I might give them another try next year just in case their plight was caused by this year’s weather conditions rather than an intrinsic problem with the potato.

The tomatoes are doing ok. The ones in the garden were looking a bit blight-ridden but we treated those and all is well – for the moment. The cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. The only problem is that the temperature is plummeting at night and it might be getting too cold for them. Fingers crossed. The ones in the greenhouse (large/beef) on the allotment are going great guns. So too are the cape gooseberries and the yellow capsicums – at least, the plants are. There’s no fruit on them yet. I think next season I’ll use the greenhouses as propagators in the spring. None of my “tropical” seeds germinated early enough this spring in my propagating tents at the house. Though May was unusually chilly.

But not a bad season so far. We’ve had to buy an extra (small!) freezer to store the peas, beans, shallots and other things. The later sowings of carrots are coming along. We ate the whole of the first lot quite quickly. I must remember next year to keep sowing new boxes as the first ones germinate then there won’t be this kind of carrot hiatus!

The cabbages/broccoli/sprouts are coming along quite well. I’m really pleased with the Chinese cabbage. It’s holding its own against the caterpillars! I’m intending to put out some more seeds, and also some pak choi and some greyhound cabbage seeds. I just need to clear one of the broad bean beds – and hope for a reasonably warm autumn!

And now we need to start preparing for autumn and for winter and to start planning for next year. More digging for The Builder!!
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