The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Review of the year 2012

I did a review of my first year on my plot last year and it was good for me as I was writing it in the depth of winter, when the plot looked very bleak, it made me realise how soon it can change from a bare patch to a full and plentiful plot. Its encouraging to see how much the plot changes over the year and it gives me chance to think about what I want to grow in the coming year. Plans can also be made for any specific projects that I may have. This year I'm not sure I'm so keen on reviewing what all bloggers have kept saying was a terrible year but here goes....
We had some snow in early February but not as much as we'd had in previous winters but the plot looked very bleak.
March was quite a good month, I managed to get up to the plot quite a few times, though less time for blogging, but I got on top of the weeds and the preparation of the plot early. I extended into the part of the plot that I hadn't got going before, this is at the bottom end which was a mass of buttercups but I made progress this year in getting rid of many of them and it was here at the bottom end where I put my potatoes. In addition, I planted a small apple tree which I'm hoping I'll get my first harvest from this year. I was also very busy sowing, pricking out and potting on. We had a very warm spell at the end of the month and everything rushed into growth so it was a bit bizarre as I had some daffodils and tulips flowering at the same time. But this was followed by some unexpected snow in April.
Then through the rest of April it just didn't stop raining, with record rainfall levels for Yorkshire.
May was a slightly better month but still wet, with some sunshine, lots of showers and cool. But I was busy at home with growing things on ready for planting at the plot. I did start planting some things at the allotment but many of my first plantings were decimated my slugs, which really hadn't been a problem the year before. 2012 was the year of the slug, along with talk of alien slug invaders, it was enough to put you off gardening for life. But they won't beat me and apart from the Celeriac (which you need to sow so early) I managed to resow most things or I had spare extra plants as back-up. This cartoon in Private Eye sums it up nicely.
One of my best achievements on the plot which has really helped, especially in this wet winter, has been the paths that I made on the plot. I did these in May and I was very proud of myself. They are not finished at the bottom of the plot as I want to lay another path along to my shed, plus the bed in the middle of the picture is still quite wide so I may put another path in to divide that one up too and then I'll neaten them up. But they are great in dividing the plot into more manageable working areas and prevent me having to walk on the soil.
The onions which I overwintered did brilliantly I was very pleased with those, as were the Broad beans. It was in May that I harvested my first globe artichoke, delicious! Here's the plot in June.
I also harvested my first gooseberries and redcurrants. In July again you had to dodge the showers to get to the plot and I was busy weeding, the weeds seemed to enjoy the weather in 2012. I was very chuffed to hear in July that my plot had been chosen along with 4 others from our site to go into the "Best Plot" competition as part of the Huddersfield Allotment and Gardens federation. Just to get shortlisted was very pleasing and a chap on our site won the award which was brilliant. Its spurs me on to try better each year, though I'm a novice compared to many people on the site. The one thing I felt let me down was not the variety of things that I grow but the healthiness of the plants. I grow them often in modules and pot on and they are healthy plants when I plant them at the allotment but then they don't always grow on as well as they might. I think parts of my plot need a good feed, I did add compost last year but this year I've got a big delivery of well-rotted manure which I'm going to use on my plot (and for a few years to come!). I've also sown some green manure on one bed and will try and incorporate into my growing schedule some sowing of green manures when things finish and I have empty beds. Plus I've now got an established patch of comfrey which I'll be using to make plant food. So next year hopefully my plants with be more healthy, robust and prize-winning!
In August I spent some nice evenings on the plot which helped me get over the post Olympic blues. This is the main harvesting time and I was getting good crops off my courgettes, Broccoli, climbing French beans and most pleasingly my sweetcorn, which had been a disaster the previous year. This year I grew it on to quite a big size before planting it out at the plot and had two patches of it. My favourite vegetable and such a taste of summer even though we didn't have a great one.
Our allotment site had its first show this year and was a great success.
This was the basket that I exhibited, not prize-winning but I was very proud of it in such a difficult year. I was up against many plot holders who mainly just grow to show so I think I made a good first attempt. Our site entered a basket into the Huddersfield Show and won first prize too.
In September we had some nice sunny days and lots of colour on my plot, I love English marigolds and I always try and lots of plants dotted round the plot. These formed one of my favourite colour combinations growing alongside some bright blue Borage and some dusky green and purple Cerinthe. My garlic was harvested and I had another bumber crop, red onions not quite so good and the shallots not very good at all.

In October we had an early frost which put paid to any chances of my squash developing fruits in time, I did get a small crop from the summer squash 'Patty Pan' but the bigger squash which I did so well with last year just never got going in 2012. I will try them again this year.
In November and December I have been harvesting Kale and leeks and some last few broccoli heads. I planted some garlic but there is no sign of them coming up yet so may have to stick to my usual regime which is to plant in modules in early January before planting them once they have got a bit established.
So all in all a difficult year but not completely unsuccessful. Though I did have some failures, I think my successes just about outweigh them. Things that were poor were beetroot, celeriac, squash, parsnip, cucumbers, shallots. Successful were peas, mangetout. broad beans, french beans, garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, leeks, potatoes, sweetcorn, courgettes, fennel, globe artichokes. One of my biggest disappointments was the failure of my sweet peas both on my allotment and in my garden, I really missed them for filling my house with scent. They are a must to get right next year. I only had one remaining sunflower on my plot after the slugs had ravaged them, some slugs even climbing up a few feet of stem to get to them.
So to this year and my growing plans, I've been through my seeds and actually there is not much that I need to buy for my usual crops (I spent quite a lot on seeds last year), I'm going to try some different varieties of dwarf french beans ('Delinel' and 'Golddukat'), of Calabrese ('Marathon'), of leek ('Oarsman') and a couple of different Chilli varieties ('Diablo' and 'Joe's Long'). Plus I quite fancy trying to grow some red cabbage 'Ruby Perfection'. I also need to get some new sweetcorn seed but not sure which variety yet, I may go for the same as last year.
On the plot I want to finish off the path at the bottom of the plot to my shed and Martin's friend has offered to help me make a small greenhouse/cold frame with some bits of window that he rescued for me so we'll see how that goes. I need to sort my compost and manure area as its all a bit disorganised and get a better system.
I really want to have a go at growing more flowers from seed though, I'm devoting a bed in my garden, which had some raspberry canes and some old strawberry plants in, to a "cutting patch". How successful it will be I don't know but going to give it a try. I have been drooling over some of the lovely flowers in the Sarah Raven catalogue, I've already got some seeds at home but these are some of my favourites, Ammi majus, Cosmos, Cornflowers, Cerinthe, Calandula, Larkspur, Nigella, Nicotiana, Orlaya, Scabious, Verbena, Tithonia, Phacelia, Borage. Just writing them down is making me long for summer.

14 comments:

  1. Despite it being a 'difficult' year it's good to see just how well you did.
    It's nice to see that you're going to grow more flowers this year, with some of the ones that you list being my favourites as well.
    Fingers crossed that we all have a good and productive year. Flighty xx

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    1. Yes was good to see that it wasn't a complete write-off. Yep here's hoping!

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  2. I was surprised at how many successes we had when we considered the weather conditions. I think the secret is in growing a wide range of things

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    1. I think you have it spot on there, to grow a range of things the prevailing weather conditions will be good for something!

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  3. I think you did really well, especially in such a bad year. I think the slugs did more harm to my crops than the weather, I hope they're not such a nuisance this year.

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    1. After such a bad year for slugs, surely it can't get any worse! I'll certainly be prepared for them this time.

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  4. A great round up. It just shows that even in what was such an awful year it is possible to have successes. Who knows what we can do if the weather will be kinder to us this year? I so agree about putting in the paths. They have been a lifeline for me too. At least I've been able to get to plants and the soil without walking on it.

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    1. Fingers crossed for a better summer!

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  5. Last year wasn't so bad after all - looking forward to seeing how well you fare this year.

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    1. I can't wait to get going, a new season of growing.

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  6. I agree with the other comments, you did very well. The weather in Yorkshire can be unkind even in a good year, which last year wasn't as far as weather was concerned. You certainly had a wide variety of crops.

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    1. Certainly get variable weather in Yorkshire, but never had a wetter season!

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  7. It really was the Year of the Slug, wasn't it... You did really well, despite it all, and congrats on getting on that shortlist. The paths are not only really practical, they look attractive too, much neater than the ones I did at my own plot. Your post made me rather nostalgic for my allotment, though I am grateful to be able to grow things just outside the back door, much easier to nip out in a break in the showers. All the best for 2013, hope the slugs don't manage to eat your sunflowers, or anything else for that matter.

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    1. Yes that is the disadvantage of the allotment not being able to just go out and pick something or do a quick late night slug hunt. But it is a nice escape to get away from the house and then I don't feel quite so guilty for doing gardening and not the housework!

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