Wednesday 6 October 2010

The Bad, the Worse and the Ugly

Right, let's get this over with before paralysis causes a fatal termination of the blog. The pictures aren't going to have much relevance as I've also failed to capture the failures on film.

Leaving the woods to return to the lane.

This year hasn't been a good growing year in many respects. Yes, unusually perhaps, the bulk crops of alliums, potatoes and tomatoes have all done well. We've had many courgettes, the pumpkin crop is sufficient and I've even managed to grow a few cabbages from seed, a personal best! However, the more interesting, the more esoteric and the frankly untried have produced little. Some of it may be that intrinsically they are unsuited to the conditions and weather here, the rest of it is undoubtedly poor care on my part.

The Devil has spat on the blackberries now, luckily he missed this ladybird.

I had half a dozen or so new crops to try this year; two sorts of cowpeas, lupini beans, grain amaranth (not entirely new, I've grown it once before), millet and some types of pea from HSL which looked interesting.

The cowpeas didn't do at all. Although they made plants and even looked as if they might flower once or twice nothing came of it. Given that it was an exceptionally warm and dry early summer here which should have been ideal for them I'm not expecting that these will ever be successful here. One type was planted on poor soil which might have caused a problem but the other was in quality ground and did no better.

The lupini beans grew well but didn't start to flower properly (apart from one stunted and possibly diseased plant) until a couple of weeks ago. The large plants have since been knocked over by strong winds and torrential rain. I don't think we'll get even a handful of beans from them.

The grain amaranth has grown well but wet weather is hampering my inclination and efforts to harvest it. This one will be a fail which is mostly down to me - I need some tarpaulins/ground sheets to hang the drying seed heads over and I've avoided sorting it out until it's much too late.

The millet was a proof of concept experiment. I bought some ornamental F1 seed just to see how it did, and it did o.k. but the deer had four out of six plants and the F1 seed is of limited value for saving. Given my own poor performance this year in tending novelties I'm not sure it's worth attempting again with open pollinated seed that will likely be less robust and weather proof.

The peas had a horrible time. First of all they were washed out of their pots before germination. They were planted out in drought and barely got going before the bloody deer ate them back to stumps. I managed to get a handful of Beltony Blues for seed next year but we lost all the first crop of Irish Preans and what the deer haven't had of the second flush have gone mildewed.

Other more regular crops have also suffered. I planted the beans on poor soil this year, reasoning that with some top dressing they could look after themselves. The hot dry spell stunted them and by the time they got going weeds and lack of feeding finished them off. Possibly my worst ever year for french and runner beans.

The Golden Bantam sweet corn fell to deer just as it was about to flower. The Flint corn in the three sisters bed is just about making cobs but I'm not sure they'll be mature enough to dry properly before the end of the month.

Time for a new start.

The blue sky of tomorrow.


Rose said...

I guess every growing season is a mixed bag for one reason or another...what variety though!

Catofstripes said...

Hi Rose,

I shouldn't complain really but it's disappointing in myself as much as anything. Still, onward and upward.

mym said...

You need to acquire a taste for venison... that would kill off your predators...