Vegetable Garden - You win some, you lose some

"The definition of foolhardy is thinking you can win the battle with nature" - Ian Roberts (2023) 

It's been a bit of a strange year in the kitchen garden. Last year we had the problem of high temperatures and low rainfall. This year, June was warm and dry whereas July and early August have been cool and wet. On a tour of the vegetable garden, it was time to think about the hits and misses of this year's growing season. The information you gather will influence your decisions about what to grow next season.

Direct sown carrots, parsnips, and beetroot failed to germinate, and I had to use one of my Veg/Salad Planters (Greenhouse Sensation) as a seedbed to raise the young plants before transplanting them into their final growing position. These root crops are progressing nicely along with the onions and garlic (Photo 1).

Photo 1: Beetroot, Parsnip, Garlic, Carrot and Onion Plot

The onions needed for the kitchen are used as required: once the promised hotter/drier conditions in mid-August arrive, the remainder of the crop will be lifted for storage. About a month ago, (July 5th), I dug up a garlic plant (Photo 2) to see how it was doing ...

Photo 2: First Garlic Harvest of the Year

... and though perfectly formed, the cloves were on the small side (Photo 3) ...

Photo 3: First Crop of Garlic Cloves

... so the rest were left in the ground to, hopefully, put on a bit of weight.

The climbing French Beans have done well though the Snap Peas have been poor. Although the taste of fresh peas is delightful, French Beans are so easy to grow, with high yields, great taste, do not go stringy like runner beans, and freeze well (with a 1-minute blanch). Peas, whatever the type, are prone to mildew and pea maggot infestation. Common sense says just grow French Beans but then gardeners always like a challenge so I'll probably try some peas again next year.

The first-early potatoes are ready for lifting and we are already enjoying the crop despite a few funny shapes.

The polytunnel has been less successful this year and, I have to admit, a little disappointing. Trips away (here, here, here, and here) proved more disruptive than I anticipated and when my heated propagator was purloined for growing wedding flowers instead of food - that was the final straw! Cucumbers were slow to start but grew quickly and we had our first produce (4 x cucumbers) on June 12th. Since then two of the four cucumber plants have gone into serious decline (Photo 4) ...

Photo 4: Not So Cool as a Cucumber

I cannot be certain of what caused this but I have a couple of ideas. I am growing two cucumbers next to each other in the same Quadgrow unit - that is something I do not usually do but plant availability and trips away forced my hand. Cucumbers are very demanding of space, water, and nutrients and have a vigorous root system - I think they may have outcompeted themselves. In addition, this Quadgrow nearly dried out in July when the water level control got clogged up with cucumber roots. This would have shocked the plants and possibly led to their demise. The other two cucumber plants are in separate Quadgrows and are doing fine (Photo 5).

Photo 5: Cool as a Cucumber

Tomatoes have been very poor this year and I don't have an explanation. I have heard from other amateur growers in different parts of the country that they have also experienced poor germination and growth rates. I wonder (speculate) whether the very hot weather last year affected the seed crop for this year. We avoided buying any tinned tomatoes last year because we froze a large excess of produce that we are only just using up. That will not be the case this year!

The Jalapeno chillies are growing well - we still have quite a lot of frozen chillies from last year so I have just grown four plants this year. Sweet peppers have been disappointing with low germination rates - old seed?

Last year, the butternut squash I grew in the polytunnel (in a Quadgrow pot) yielded six fruits - an improvement on the squashes grown outside. I thought I'd repeat with a Festival squash this year. After a promising start (Photo 6) ...

Photo 6: Festival Squash (11th July) - Quadgrow/Polytunnel

... things seemed to go downhill after the first fruit set ...

Photo 7: Festival Squash (31st July)

Fortunately, the outside squash plants are doing well ...

Photo 8: One of the Outside Squash Plants (31st July)

Aubergines & Bell Peppers have been a bit of a disaster this year. Both grow well in the polytunnel usung the Salad/Veg Planters. However, this year's germination was poor and I ended up with just two bell pepper plants due to a combination of old non-viable seed, old seed compost, limited access to my heated seed propagator, holidaying at the wrong time, and, maybe, just maybe, a touch of bad luck! I looked for some reasonably-priced young plants but couldn't find any. I've noticed some leaf damage (flea beetle?) on the sweet peppers - this has become a common occurrence in recent years. The fruit is not affected.

Photo 9: Bell Pepper Leaf Damage

My jalapeno peppers remain largely pest-free - maybe they are too hot to handle.

Photo 10: Pest-free Jalapenos?

I have grown celery & celeriac in Salad/Veg Planters for three years now, and I always get a good crop. These vegetables are bog plants and need to be kept moist. This year, the grapevines have rather overshadowed the celery and celeriac beds - partly my fault for not pruning back the grapevines hard enough.

Photo 11: Celeriac & Celery in Salad/Veg Planters

The first celery was picked on the 18th July ...

Photo 12: First Celery 2023 (18th July)

As mentioned above, my usual crop of aubergines and bell peppers did not materialise this year and I was left with two large and one small Salad/Veg Planters in the polytunnel -  all prepared and ready to accept young plants. I decided to trial growing dwarf French beans in the polytunnel instead. I'll report on these in a later blog post.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Blog Archive