Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Season of mellow fruitfulness

I have to confess that I’ve always rather liked this time of year; relaxing into the longer evenings, with the mad rush of summer over. In the garden, all that pressure of tending, sowing, growing, harvesting, weeding and watering (although admittedly not much of that was required this year) has passed. In fairness, all of the above is still required, but done at a rather more leisurely pace. It is a time to literally enjoy the fruits of the year’s labour rather than just to labour. It is also a time to look forward to next year, review what went well and learn from the season’s mistakes.

Summer Cauliflowers - the start of a two-week glut!

Onion bed still in full swing
Despite the poor summer weather, we’ve had a good and productive summer. Although the peas and beans (except the ever-reliable Mangetout Winterkefe”) were inexplicably poor, the spuds didn’t produce many spuds and the Courgettes spectacularly weren’t, but apart from the continuing absence of Asparagus everything else went quite well. We had a glut of Cauliflowers and Kale (which is still going on), the Broccoli was great, we had lots of lettuces (that inter-cropping rally worked) and we even managed to harvest some Tomatoes – I kid you not! Soft fruit was wonderful – our deep-freeze is filled with Redcurrants, Blackcurrants and Rasps. The tree fruit didn’t produce anything although all the trees are still alive which, given the treatment they got this year, constitutes a success. Even better, as we go into October, we’re still harvesting, with KaleRed Russian” and Nero de Toscana”, BroccoliEarly Purple Sprouting”, Leeks, Celery, Carrots and Onions on the go, with more Leeks, Celeriac (possibly) and Parsnip (hopefully) still to come.

"Super 8" crop plan and rotation!
 Buoyed by this success, we’re planning to make 2016 bigger and better. Of course, this planning would be a lot easier if we’d made a decent record of what we did but, like the blog, this recording seems to have been somewhat neglected in favour of just getting it done – understandable at the time, but frustrating now! The first stage of this planning is to figure out where everything is going next year. To that end, we’ve decided on an eight-year rotation for the eight beds. Technically, it’s just a bog-standard four-year rotation (spuds-onions/roots-beans/peas-brassicas) with some curly bits on the end. It also means that, to fit those curly bits on, we need to dig another FOUR beds (i.e. double what we have already). So much for the leisurely, mellow pace of Autumn…!