Sunday 31 December 2017

End of year round up

Well that was 2017!

A very strange year all round what with Trump and Brexit and the Weinstein fall-out, as well as all the problems out in the far east.

In the garden our efforts were much hampered by needing to spend a lot of time with an elderly neighbour, general care and keeping her company and also a lot of legal stuff. So the garden is a real mess - but will come up looking great in the spring as it always does.

The end of the year has been cold and wet. We had some serious snow and then rain, freezing and further snow. Today the soil is still frozen, so there's not much to be done. Yesterday while the sun was shining briefly I cleared out the spent tomatoes from the greenhouse. I was harvesting ripe tomatoes right up to the end of November.

Generally the year was fairly good for vegetables and absolutely crazy for fruit.


The early warm weather meant that the potatoes grew pretty well and harvested before any blight attack, and unlike last year they didn't drown. I just planted two varieties this year - Desiree reds and white Sante. The Desirees were really good with some nice big ones good for baking, the Santes a bit small but OK. There were very few worm holes or other kind of pest problem. The Desirees have kept well too.


All the beans were all pretty good - French climbing, runner beans and broad beans. This year I planted "Fasold" French beans and they were great. I won't bother with the Blue Lake again.


The first sowing was really good. I sow the seeds in modules and then plant them out in the veg patch. They all grew well, I think because of the warm weather. Most of the second batch are still out there, didn't grow so quickly, but will provide a few serving during January I should think.


I bought the wrong packet of seeds - Rhubarb Chard instead of Rainbow Chard - but still pretty tasty and continuing to produce dark green leaves on their red stems to replace those harvested.  They've taken a battering during the snow but are starting to shoot again already for meals during the winter.

Brussels Sprouts

Well, they started out fine, all seedlings surviving. I erected a netting cage to keep off the butterflies and pigeons and pheasants. But they really haven't done too well. They haven't grown very tall and the sprouts are the size of peas. However, we've had a few meals of sprout tops and they were very tasty. Hasn't helped that the strong winds during the autumn and the snow just before Christmas collapsed the cage!

Soft fruit

All the currants did well. We netted the redcurrants and one row of the blackcurrants and got a good crop off both. The gooseberries were good, especially the new bush which I took as a cutting a few years ago - it's really got into it's stride now. The jostaberries also produced - but I don't really think they are worthwhile. They don't have the flavour of blackcurrants.

The raspberries did very well at the beginning of the year, the fruit produced on last year's canes. This year's canes weren't so good, probably because it was cooler and much wetter by the time the fruit formed.

My strawberry plants have increased and we had some lovely fruit (Elsante). I took more cuttings.


We completed the clearing of the first rhubarb bed and transplanted about 9 plants. We treated them with some care to let them get established, but still managed a few pies and crumbles and some rhubarb and redcurrant jam.


Amazing! More apples than we could eat, cook up, freeze or give away. Especially amazing because last year was a good apple year and some varieties like Bramleys tend to be one-year-on one-year-off. We have put some in store but some varieties don't keep.


The pears produced a good crop for the first time in years. They've been devastated by some fungal / bacterium thing which makes the little fruit turn black and drop off. For about 3 years I've been spraying the trees with a "winter wash" which is supposed to kill off such diseases and also eggs of moths and such which would turn into worms in the fruit. Maybe this has had some effect, or maybe just the weather - who knows?  - but I'll be out there spraying again during January and again before the blossom forms.


Mixed.  We have 4 plum trees of different varieties and a damson. One plum tree which we had given up for dead two years ago produced some lovely fruit, as did the purple plum which makes excellent jam. But the big plum tree (produces BIG PLUMS) was not so good, despite there being very few wasps this year. The wasps usually get to these luscious fruits before we do. The damsons were productive as usual, and we are enjoying damson vodka and vodka-soaked damson chocolates!


We have a large, wild cherry tree which the birds love. We once managed to pick enough to make jam, but we don't usually bother and leave them to our feathered friends. The morello cherry produced about 12 cherries which were carefully observed and eaten by the birds when they were just ripe (before we got up in the morning). The Stella cherry is still getting going with only a few, quite tasty, fruits.

Well that was 2017 - so now it's time to start planning 2018!

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