Wednesday 31 December 2014

Review of the year

New Year's Eve and looking back over 2014 there have been highs and lows with our garden:

  • The greenhouse tomatoes were great. This year I sowed all Alicantes and they gave us consistently delicious tomatoes right through till early November. The green ones ripened on the kitchen windowsill but didn't quite make it till Christmas.
  • Raspberries were pretty good, especially the early ones
  • Beetroots were spectacular - 2 sowings. Plenty of beetroots for salad and soup.
  • The Bramley Apple was loaded with good quality apples. Bramleys are notorious for "one year on one year off" so probably get none in 2015. Have quite a few in store (mice willing) and lots of tubs of cooked apples in the freezer.
  • The little Elstar Apple we planted 5 years ago has just got into its stride. Only about 10 apples - but really delicious and seem to keep well.
Not so good:

We had quite a few failures or problems with vegetables:
  • Potatoes were generally a bit small. But the biggest problem has been when we have come to used them Some of the Colleens and a few Desirees have nasty brown cavities in the middle. No sign of ingress by worms and generally only the larger potatoes are affected. Looked up on Google and identified this as Hollow Heart - not caused by a bug, bacteria or rot but by rapid changes in growing conditions. Indeed this we had see post So, in future need to be more rigorous about watering during dry spells.
  • Runner Beans sown directly into ground were infested with bean fly so we had to plant a second sowing in pots. These grew well and we had a good crop.
  • Broad Beans grew quickly and we had a good crop. But some of the mature beans had brownish markings on the bean. I usually save beans for next year so have picked them over carefully.
  • Leeks again suffered with allium leaf miner. Managed to get a few early ones for eating 
  • Brussel Sprouts were a disaster. new variety this year and we netted them against butterflies and pigeons, but they didn't thrive and some had big swollen stems with only tiny sproutlets.
  • The blackcurrants were completely stripped by pigeons and blackbirds, presumably to spite us because we netted the redcurrants.
Couch grass was everywhere. The rhubarb patch is completely overrun with couch grass actually boring holes through the roots, However much I dug up it was there again a week later. Bindweed seems to have reduced a bit though.

Looking forward now to planning the sowing and planting for 2015.

Monday 29 December 2014

End of year snow

After a really warm few weeks in the run-up to Christmas we had snow on Boxing Day night. The days have been sunny and bright and very cold so the snow is still lying, crispy and crunchy to walk on. The snow provides some interesting images with stark, leafless trees, bushes and grasses.

Raspberry canes poking through the snow.

Footprints in the snow - cat, fox?

Amazing "reverse icicle" emerging from one of the many hollow iron scaffolding poles
we use as supports for the blackcurrant bushes and other soft fruit.
The water in the poles freezes and expands creating an interesting ice sculpture.

Another view of the "ice sculpture" with a plane trail up in the early evening sky.

View across the fields to Clay Lane and the cottages on Zion Hill.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Pheasants and carrots

Definitely winter now although after the frost early last week the weather reverted to grey, foggy days. Last night got down to minus 2.5 C and this morning bright and sunny. The days are short so can't get much done in the garden.

Last week our farmer neighbour brought round a brace of pheasants, so on Sunday I took them up to the greenhouse to pluck. I plucked pheasants in the conservatory once and the feathers were blowing around for weeks. At least in the greenhouse stray feathers will act as compost.

.. so roasted the two pheasants with stuffing made from bread, pheasants' livers, home-grown thyme and parsley with a little shop-bough dried marjoram. Laid bacon over the breasts and legs and foil over the lot. Must do some dried marjoram next year since it grows wild all over the garden. Along with our own potatoes we had a very few carrots. I've been growing these in a big pot - disease and pest free but not very productive.

Here they are:

Carrots from big pot in our garden.