Saturday, 19 September 2009

Annual Allotment Performance Appraisal

Autumn is a pivotal point in the allotment year, the end of the summer season, and the point at which the whole cycle starts all over again. This is when my crops get rotated to the next patch and I will start to plan next year's sowing and planting, starting with overwintering onions and garlic, and broad beans. So it seems like a good time for a review of the current year's successes and failures.
Beginning with the greenhouse crops:
Despite the pretty rubbish summer weather this has been one of the best years ever in the greenhouse. About half of the tomatoes succumbed to blight in the end, but not before producing some really good crops, and the remainder are still going strong now. The Sungold were very tasty and I have seen a variety in T& M which are described as a 'sister' variety, tasting very similar but with thinner skins that resist splitting.
The cucumbers, though slow to get going, have fruited much more steadily than in previous years, rather than all at once and all over by July. They are still producing now, at just the right rate.
I didn't expect much from the melons but I have been pleasantly surprised to have produced three edible, good sized fruits. Not much yield from the space they take up but satisfying nonetheless. Not yet sure whether to go for it again next year.
Chillies (Ring of Fire) - having learned from previous years not to overwater, these plants have produced the highest yield ever, but I'm a bit disappointed that they are not as hot as in previous years. Next year I'm going to try some different varieties, including some described as 'atomic'!
Peppers - also an amazingly high yield, and hardly any pest damage compared to the last two years.

Now down to the allotment:
Runner beans (Desiree, a white flowered variety) - disappointing really. Failed to grow to the top of their canes and stopped flowering and producing pods really quite early. The beans we did get were very nice though. Next year I think I will do a mixture of them and good old red flowered ones.
French beans (Aiguillon) - fantastic, will definitely do again next year, but will probably sow them all direct, as it is much easier and the direct sown plants were much bigger and healthier.
Broad beans - very good and hardly any blackfly. Next year I might do a spring sowing as well as an autumn one, but it depends a bit on whether I decided to bother with
Peas - delicious, but just so much faff. I have saved masses of seed, so I might find I just have to sow some next year, but I'm tempted to just do more broad beans instead. Bought frozen peas are pretty good really. To be decided.
calabrese and summer caulis - all pretty rubbish and I definitely won't bother next year. Will concentrate on winter brassicas and a few summer cabbages. These weren't up to much either this year but I will try maybe a different variety next summer. Must remember to start psb much later.
Tomatoes - if they hadn't all got blight they would have been amazing. Will try some blight resistant varieties next year.
Sweetcorn - did too much and haven't been able to keep up. A lot of it has gone to waste. Delicious though, as usual.
Squashes - pretty good. Tried the first Blue Ballet squash roasted the other night and it was delicious. Even the children liked it. Next year will do fewer pumpkins and more of this type of thing. The butternuts have done well too. Despite having three courgette plants we don't seem to have been quite so inundated as in previous years, but a reasonably steady supply anyway.
Potatoes - Mimi and Anya definitely the nicest. Charlottes were fine, just a bit boring. My maincrops - Sarpo Mira are a huge disappointment. Tough skins and a very dry texture. Feeling a bit depressed at the thought of the amount we still have to get through. Definitely never again. They are supposed to be blight resistant, but frankly I'd rather take my chances with the ordinary sort. Possibly won't even bother with maincrops at all next year. Use the space for something else...
Carrots - better and more than last year. Something I need to keep working on.
Onions - all pretty good really and hardly any rot.
Garlic - not bad, but pretty small cloves and some not split properly. Must try harder.
Leeks - first planting looking really good, will start harvesting soon. Second planting still quite small and developing rust. Not sure what to do as not had this problem before.
Celeriac - haven't harvested any yet, but looking good...
Strawberries - it seems so long ago, but they did pretty well, and still producing the odd one now and again.
Currants - didn't get many. Plan to plant more bushes in the winter.
Loganberries - early days, not much to harvest this year.
Raspberries - a lot of raspberry beetle in early ones, later ones much better. Plan to buy fresh canes and put them in at the allotment rather than in the garden.
Apples - two new trees - two apples on one of them! Not sampled yet.

Not a bad year all in all. I haven't had to buy vegetables at all since June, and I still have plenty of potatoes, onions, leeks, celeriac, french beans, squashes, winter cabbages and carrots to keep us going for a good few weeks yet.


Jo said...

Sounds like you've had a good year all in all. I've just been reviewing my own progress and will blog about this later. I certainly haven't had as good a year as you.

Anonymous said...

Is your name Waitrose!? get you - the feeling is great though, isn't it! well done. Cat @ Manor Stables

Liz said...

Seems like you've had a really good year! Well done!