Vegetables 2016: The results

It didn’t go well this year. I was quite busy with the animals, the house and most importantly, the boys. In some ways, I’ve made better progress than ever in the garden; I’ve cleared away most of the ivy and years of resulting debris under our conifer trees, so we’ve gained an extra few meters of space (this is a ongiong job, it’ll be some time before it’s ivy free and usable), the lawn has been regularly mowed and his slightly less moss in it then usual, and the hedges and shrubs have been trimmed.  All good stuff, but at the expense of the vegetable patch and the borders, which have been quite neglected.  I think, going forward, that I need to think very carefully about my planting lists and only go for things that pretty much look after themselves.

Well, for now, here is how it went:

FEBRUARY

Tomatoes Brandywine, San Marzano, Tigerella & Ildi

The tomatoes were mostly a fail. They germinated well, I did pot them up but then lost interest and the plants weren’t fed properly or watered enough. We did get some nice fruit, but I may just reduce it down to a couple of plants next year.

Aubergine Money Maker F1

They germinated too late and although were looking good at one point, didn’t have time to form decent fruit.

Sweet Pepper Worldbeater

Chilli (I need to buy new seeds, again, not sure what variety yet)

Chillies and peppers never germinated…..the seed is likely too old.

Artichoke Violette di Chioggia

I can pretty much never get my artichoke seeds to germinate….need to do some reading up and find out what I’m doing wrong.

MARCH

Spinach Bordeaux

Grew brilliantly, mostly self seeding and the chickens benefited greatly 🙂

Cucumbers (Need new seed, again not sure what)

Forgot to buy seed – doh!

Courgettes Zephyr

Grew well. One for next year.

Melon Edonis

Never formed fruit 😦

Radish French Breakfast, Sparkler & Cherry Bell

Grew well but went to seed quickly.

Broad Beans Crimson Flowered

Err…..not sure what happened here….not sure I actually planted them.

Peas Oasis & Purple Mangetout

Grew well.

Herbs Dill, Chives, Garlic Chives, French Sorrel, Thyme, Mint, Coriander, Lemon Grass

Hit and miss, depending on if I watered the pots properly. Will always make space for herbs though.

APRIL

Swiss Chard Bright Lights & White Silver

Brilliant, as always, and self seeds everywhere.

Beetroot Bolthardy

Grew well.

Sweetcorn Conqueror

Great success…again something I’ll aways make space for.

Spring Onions Welsh Red Stem & North Holland Blood Red (seed collected from last year’s plants)

Grew well.

Pak Choi Mei Qing Choi & Rubi

Never actually got planted….should do it next year as in the past they’ve been great.

Beans Blue Climbing

These grew amazingly well this year and I’ve got lots dried and ready to sow next Spring.

Broccoli Red Arrow & Rudolph & Kailaan No 2

Carrots Yellowstone, Rainbow Hybrid, Purple Haze, Healthmaster & Sugarsnax

Turnip Sweetball & Snowball

Didn’t actually grow any of the above 😦

Lettuce various varieties

Pesky slugs ate them.

Herbs Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Winter Savory and many more…

Squash Crown Prince, Sweet Dumpling, Turks Turban, Hooligan & Barbara Butternut F1

They fruited too late and I now have mini squash rotting in the garden.

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Things that I will definitely always plant are garlic and shallots. Both grew brilliantly, with little effort so they are a must. Also, the potatoes (Anya) were good and I still have three bags in the greenhouse to tip out and eat, at some point. I have normally ordered all of these by now and see that many sites have run out (of Autumn planting garlic, anyway) so had best get on with it, if we want to grow them next year.

dsc_0008Sweetcorn was also a great success and I did my usual method of freezing them whole and raw, with the outer leaves intact. I have quite a few still in the freezer, which I shove in the microwave for a few minutes to cook (again, with the leaves on)…delicious!!

I need to sit down and have a good think about planting lists for next year. Adding an irrigation system would be the biggest help as inconsistent watering is definitely one of my biggest problems. I would love to add longer term things (such as an asparagus bed) now we’re committed to staying here (oldest has just gone into Secondary school, which has been a nightmare transition and is not one I’d like to repeat) and generally need to plant things that I can find time to maintain easily.

dsc_0087In other news, I’m back to cooking and baking again, especially now the weather is cooler. Bread is back on the menu and thanks to two new books (both recommended by my Sister) I’ve been enjoying trying new things. I have to be careful with my cookery book buying as I already have loads and so I only add new ones if I really think I’ll really use them.dsc_0085The rye section in Gill Meller’s ‘Gather’ is going down well. I’ve made the ‘Coriander and Caraway’ bread, which tasted delicious and would have been great, had it not got stuck in the tin so that it came out in pieces 😦 and the ‘Chocolate Rye Brownies’ have been declared ‘the best thing you’ve made yet’ by the boys. Awesome. I’m still miles away from the master baker that my Gran was, but I do try.

Christmas food post next, if I find time to keep writing.

 

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Chickens: My, How They’ve Grown!

So, they are big chickens now……really quite massive,  in the boys’ case.dsc_0051Sergeant Bilko is ‘King Chicken’ and has turned out to be quite magnificent. As he’s a Orpington bantam, he’s about the size of a regular hen. Gosh he’s handsome.dsc_0039His brother-from-another-mother (not named…..can’t believe we haven’t actually named them all yet) is equally big and so far they seem to be getting along quite well. I do keep an eye on them both, and if they start to fight, I could either put one of them in with the brown hybrid chicks, or try to re-home one. As long as they seem happy, I’ll just keep both.dsc_0047Bowie, the only girl Orpington is still one of my favourite chickens from the ones we hatched. I’ve spent less time recently handling them and I’m amazed at how quickly they’ve gone shy. They are happy to be around my legs, will always come running to me (in the hope of a treat) but are less likely to hop up on to my lap for a cuddle. Shame. dsc_0036I think when I last posted….ahem…in July..we had three Pekins. Sadly, I came down one morning to find the cage door open, the chickens were all out and two were missing 😦 I think Mr Fox (who drops by nightly, leaving his little calling card on the lawn) had managed to work the door open by jumping repeatedly on it (I looked at night footage once, from the security cameras in the garden and was amazed at how much the foxes jump all over the cages, trying to get in). If the door latch isn’t pushed down hard, it can work its way lose. Bogart and the chicken with no name were both munched, I assume, as there wasn’t even a trace of feather. We now only have Lana (Turner) left (middle chick in the above photo).dsc_0052As I now have quite a little flock I’ve had to be a bit inventive with my Eglu. They really need a Cube version, but I cannot afford that, so I have put the guinea pigs’ summer house (they are indoors at the moment) up against the original ‘Up and Go’ so they have more room. When I peak indoors at night, I see that they are still mostly all crammed into one coop, and weirdly, there seems to be quite a reasonable amount of room around them, so if they continue to do that, I’ll revert back to just the one (as it’s loads easier to empty the tray that way, for cleaning).

They’re still ‘free range’ during the day. After Mabel (one of my original hybrids) got eaten by a fox in the middle of a sunny Saturday, I was a bit worried about a repeat visit, but I think it’s more important that they have a nice quality of life and so as long as I’m at home (which is most days), I let them out and leave them to it.  I have to say, I do love having chickens, they do make me happy 🙂