In retrospective, I think it turned out to be reasonable. I chose plant varieties to be able to harvest throughout the year, well into the winter.
It all started with the radishes at the beginning of June. Delicious and sweet radishes just with a faint reminder of pepper. They were actually almost sweet! Then there were the strawberries. Sweet, delicious, juicy strawberries.
Lots of the plants struggled during the summer from the heat and the lack of water. It was an exceptionally hot summer. I run out of water (from the water butts) by the end of June, afterwards, I had to water from the tap. I used way too much water, more than I thought I would. I measured it and I think it is scary the amount of water I went through to be able to feed the plants so I would have food through the year. When they introduced the hosepipe ban in Ireland in midsummer and I heard rumours about that they might turn off the taps on the allotment, I came very close to give up and let everything die off. This year I will need to introduce a few more water butts into my plot.
Eventually, most of the plant caught up, and grew and produced. Most of the vegetables were smaller in size than expected, and reduced in amount. So I had the ‘Jazz’ variety of french beans, but only a few handful. I had runner beans too, but again, I couldn’t fill in the freezer with them. I could eat them from the bush though. The onions were fairly mid to small size, but I am still crying every time I am chopping them up. The cabbages were also tiny, compared to supermarket standard, but I fell in love with the ‘Greyhound’.
Cooking tip: Shred the cabbage (‘Greyhound’) into fairly small pieces (1 cm to 1/2 inch) and stir it into your sugarless pancake mix. Make sure to add only just enough cabbage shred that your mix is still pourable, otherwise it doesn’t form circles in the pan. You can experiment with the ratio, I like it full of with ‘greyhound’ taste. This variety won’t be crispy, it is quite the opposite, soft and sweet.
I ate an endless amount of spinach and chard. I had an awful lot of blackberries and plums. Now I have an awful lot of jams. There was a point during the summer when I just couldn’t eat any more vegetables and started to make pickles, chutneys, jams, cordials, blackberry vinegar, apple sauces and blackberry vines. It was 37 °C outside and I was making jam. It was horrible. I ended up covering the side of the building with a bed sheet and watering it down to try to cool the kitchen and myself, with quite a bit of success.
The unsuccessful plants
First of all if you want to know all the almost 50 different plants I tried to grow, please read my previous post: Phase 2 – The main vegetable patch
- Garlic (Casablanca): It is a hard neck variety. I planted it late, I would say. They grew 1-2 inch greenery then they died off or disappeared. The culprits may have been some slugs or birds.
- Spring onion (Ramrod): They were attacked by some caterpillar, and the majority had got chewed up. I had a chance to try a few tiny ones, and they were good!
- Leek (Musselburgh) / Carrot (Amsterdam Forcing 3) / Parsnip (Gladiator): None of these germinated. I don’t actually know whether the seeds weren’t viable anymore or the conditions weren’t favourable.
- Wild rocket / Lamb’s lettuce / Raddichio / Lettuce: Most of the salad greens didn’t germinate either. There was one survivor of lettuce which I watered for weeks until it grew into a nice big head. I wondered why no slugs, bugs, worm or even the pigeons had a go at it until I tasted it. My friend, it was bitter like nothing I tasted before! Yeah, I know, lack of water.
- Pea (Kelvedon Wonder) / Mangetout (Sugar Bon): These grew all right. They just turned into seed within a couple of days! From previous experience, we knew you could leave the pea pods on the plants for a few weeks so you end up with bigger peas. Not this year. We missed our window.
- Broccoli (Purple sprouting): It had got a heat shock. It didn’t form a head but started to produce the small side shoots where the leaves are attached.
- Cauliflower (All The Year Round): These ones germinated, I had a good amount of 1/2 inch long seedlings when the heat wave hit the Midlands. So they all died. Well, I cannot do anything about the weather.
Despite the problems, I think I’ll try to grow these plants again. I hope for a less warm summer.
I like bugs. From a distance. But then they are the days when everything slows downs, even the bugs, they stop by to sunbath or just catch their breath. And then there are the bees! I had quite a good amount on my plot thanks for the randomly growing poppies. So here you are, last year’s goosbum creating creatures:
All in all, I am glad that we signed up for a plot in 2018. It was a good workout physically. I met a few new people, surprisingly friendly ones. There is always a good company on an allotment and there is no shortage of tea and biscuit. I learned a lot on gardening, organic gardening, permaculture, all the different type of plants, the soil and food. I even learned a bit of history too. We produced over 115 kg of fruit and vegetable in this year which I would consider a good turnout.
We signed up for 2019 too. We shall see what the year brings.