Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Season So Far...

Leeks! Garlic! Me!
So here we are in late June, roughly halfway through our first proper growing season.  After getting all excited about it, especially in March when the weather was (briefly) amazing, we've seen a fair chunk of our efforts completely scuppered by one of the wettest and coldest summers on record.  Seeds haven't germinated, courgettes have perished in record time and things have just generally been as sodden and grim as.... well, let me know if you've got a really good "cold and wet" metaphor, I can't think of one.

And yet; and yet.  Some stuff has grown just fine, in defiance, or perhaps in some cases because of the elements.  Where it hasn't, at least some lessons were learned (like, for example: just because the weather is nice today, don't assume it will be indefinitely.  You live in the north of England, remember, you idiot?).  Here's the scorecard so far:

Heroic Triumphs
Japanese Onions, hairy bits still attached
  1. Japanese Over-wintering onions:  These were planted as sets in the autumn, got established before the frosts and are being harvested right now.  We made an onion gravy out of some the other day and had it with Toad in the hole.  1-0 to yum.
  2. Leeks:  Planted last summer, they did fine.  In future we'll plant them much closer together.  Alliums seem to grow no bother, probably because nothing much wants to eat them (slugs, birds etc, that is- we want to eat them, obviously.  That's why we planted them) and they're pretty hardy.
  3. Red Onions:  Planted in April just gone, these are going from strength to strength, despite the best efforts of some particularly malevolent bindweed.  We won't harvest for a while, so I'm probably jinxing them but hey, you've got to accentuate the positives.
  4. Broad Beans:  Planted last Autumn, these guys win the double-hard bastard award; the plantlings sat it out in temperatures of -10c over the winter, then came back in fine style.  The plants have gone mental and have needed much stringing up for support.  Harvested the first of them the other night, resulting in a pea (not ours, sadly) and broad bean risotto.  Tasted amazing.
  5. Broad Beans. Furrily interiored joy-containers.
  6. Garlic:  Not that heroic a triumph to be honest.  More like a flukey last-minute winner, against the run of play.  It all grew, but only formed tiny little bulbs of micro-garlic.  And, at the end of its life it got some kind of weird rust disease.  Tastes fine though.  I made a garlic sauce out of some of it the other night and had it with cheesy chips.  Total smut, and very good too.
Catastrophic Losses
  1. Cabbages:  Totally murdered by (presumably) slugs and snails.  Plus they got club-root.  What a piss-take.
  2. Purple-sprouting broccoli:  See above, minus the club-root.  Quite impressive how these ravenous gastropods can strip entire plants of their foliage.  Quite impressive and totally infuriating.
  3. Green Beans:  Have grown these successfully in large pots, so expected a bumper crop on the allotment.  No deal.  Something, or a variety of somethings, munched them.  We suspect a slug/pigeon double-team; an unholy alliance indeed.
  4. Courgettes:  Or, as we like to call them "slug-food".  Didn't harden them off properly so when we planted them out they just sat there, didn't grow, and got annihilated.  Basically, we sent them on a total suicide mission.  One plant remains.  It probably sits there all day, feeling guilty about its fallen comrades.  "Why was I different; why did I survive", it probably thinks, "Why me?  WHY ME??".
  5. Spinach, Carrots, Turnips, Beetroot, Radishes:  A mix of awful weather and a suspected attack from flea beetles did for all of these.  They either didn't germinate, or just got munched before they could get going.  Spent bloody ages preparing those seed beds too.  Galling.
Still in Play/ Result Undecided

Two kinds of Potatoes (Arran Pilot from Wilkos and Marfonas from Wylam Garden Centre- I'm backing the Arrans), Peas, Pumpkins, Sweetcorn, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrants, Chard, Parsnips, more Leeks, lettuces, three more types of Cabbage and Romanesco Cauliflowers are all still in the game.  Godspeed them all!  And may curses be upon all those that would sabotage their progress!

Ps, forgive the dodgy ball-sport lingo.  Portugal-Spain is on.  I can't watch that, write this, AND think of unrelated metaphors.  I just don't have that kind of focus.  Sorry.


  1. Thanks for your kind feedback. I like your blog and I'll be interested to watch your progress.

  2. Well I think you are doing a great job...especially for your first real season.

    Probably not the best year for you to be starting up with the weather that we have had most people are suffering with their crops where they haven't before. But remember every year is different and you will get some rewards even if you can't quite see what they will be at the minute!!


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

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