A Good Year in the Garden

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BritDownUnder
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A Good Year in the Garden

Post by BritDownUnder »

I had a good year in the garden mainly due to little travel and being made to work from home.

In March just before the lockdowns took hold I managed to get a 6m x 3m hooped greenhouse with plastic cover which I used to cover some raised beds. I already had some tomatoes in on the raised beds and I got a good double crop from them in March and June. In the outdoor raised beds I grew onions, potatoes, sweetcorn, pak choi, carrots and cucumbers. Peas and beans provided a good winter crop.

I put in some Brussels and Cauliflower in July under cold frames to start them off and if it was not for the cabbage white butterflies damaging them it would have been a good crop. Surprisingly the cabbages themselves did OK except for some having slugs in them. I have had two crops of spinach and lettuce in the greenhouse and after I removed the plastic cover in November. The wife liked the eggplants I grew, a little but smaller than the shop but just as tasty she said.

Lately around Christmas and New Year the weather has been a bit cooler and the seeds I started before Christmas have not grown.

As a nod to the environment for weed killing on concrete paths and pebbles I have tried to use boiling water instead of glyphosphate based weedkillers. It's a bit time consuming but with abundant solar power to use I bought three cheap kettles at $7-50 each so I can maintain a continuous supply of hot water.
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kenneal - lagger
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

It's good to hear that you had a good year in the garden, BDU, but your timings are confusing for us in the northern hemisphere and what you call a hooped greenhouse we would call a polytunnel.

We had a mixed year this year. Our potatoes, carrots and onions did really well although I had to put about 3000 litres of stored rain water on them because we had a really dry early summer while our runner beans, swede, celleriac and courgettes didn't do very well at all. In the polytunnel we started off with a really good crop of overwintered broad beans which were followed by cucumbers which did well despite a bad dose of powdery mildew. The aubergines (eggplants) in the next bed did really well with no mildew as did some squashes. The peppers did really well with loads of peppers but hardly any of them ripened so we had green peppers with everything. I was on paint brush duty every other day pollinating them as we didn't get many bees into the polytunnel. I'll have to open both ends next year to encourage the bees in. The other polytunnel had tomatoes in which did really well so we have enough pots of passata and ratatouille to last until next summer. We were eating fresh toms ripened on the window cill until the middle of December although they weren't as good as freshly picked ones off the vines: they were fine cooked though. We had plenty of spinach but the dog dug up the first lettuce crop and I didn't get around to planting any more.

The apple trees had a huge crop for the second year running despite some late frosts so we have apple juice to last until next year again in bottles in the cellar and also stored cooking apples wrapped in newspaper. There are enough bottled pears, some spiced, to last through, all from one tree, and the plums did OK as well. We've got another plum tree coming along and another pear as well. I'll have to give the apples a good prune as the trees are getting overgrown and too thick. The cherries evaded us this year as the birds got them early in the morning we were going to pick them. We'll have to try netting them next summer.

I'm about to sow a crop of broad beans indoors and need to start getting ready to plant the squash, tomato, pepper and aubergine seeds for the polytunnel. Hopefully with earlier planting and an earlier intervention with the paint brush we'll get some ripe peppers this year. The contents of the polytunnels swap over this year so hopefully we will get rid of the powdery mildew for the following year. I'm also going to get some well rotted cow slurry to put on the beds this spring which will hopefully bury any spores. Also we have got chickens in both polytunnels at the moment keeping them safe from avian bird flu which I hope will suppress the mildew spores.
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BritDownUnder
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

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It's been a very wet year in Australia. Seasons are of course opposite but except for July and August things can be grown and two crops a year are possible outside in the same bed. I have usually started off with peas and beans and then go to potatoes or sweetcorn after that. I bought a few cold frames to help things along and keep out the insects. The area is just enough to drop over a 120cm x 90cm raised bed.

I have not had much success with apples, supposedly it does not get cold enough for them and I have noticed birds eating them as well. Citrus do well here as do grapes. I tried to grow an avocardo from a seed but although the tree looks well there have been no fruit so far.
Spinach grows well as does lettuce but burns a bit in the summer sun.

I planted some carrots but this time did not grow for some reason, maybe not enough water. Last time I did not thin them enough and there were too many of them. Swede does not do well in Australia as i presume it prefers the cold weather.

I bought the greenhouse online and has a hooped metal frame but the hoops are also linked together by metal struts making it fairly rigid even in strong winds. I took the plastic cover off in November to help to preserve it from the UV rays. The frame itself makes a good support to tie on 'ladders' for climbing plants.
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kenneal - lagger
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

You can also use a polytunnel frame to support shade material over beds in very hot climes. The material is generally either a woven dark coloured material or the same with holes in.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by Catweazle »

Re polytunnels: The avian flu lockdown forced me to put our ducks and chickens into the tunnel, because I didn't want to put back the huge netted area like last time. The birds obviously miss all the foraged slugs and worms they would normally get, but for some reason they're laying like champions - especially the ducks.

Given the choice between keeping the Warren hens or Campbell ducks it will be the ducks every time, they are amazing, their eggs are huge, tasty and they lay them in large numbers.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by Stumuz2 »

kenneal - lagger wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:30 pm The other polytunnel had tomatoes in which did really well so we have enough pots of passata and ratatouille to last until next summer. We were eating fresh toms ripened on the window cill until the middle of December although they weren't as good as freshly picked ones off the vines: they were fine cooked though.
Well done on the food producing Ken.

I know what you're saying about the tomatoes. I tried this year growing a long storage tomato ' de colgar' from real seeds. https://www.realseeds.co.uk/tomatoes_vines_big.html

They have performed exactly as advertised, they are still in good shape in the pantry. However, they do lose a bit of flavour over the winter, nothing tastes like a warm fruit off the vine.

But, I have found that when the tomatoes are in full swing in addition bottling, dehydrating, there is one method that brings back a warm summers day in the greenhouse eating a fresh tom off the vine.

I get some of the larger beef toms (Amish, wetzells) and pop them in the oven to lose 30-40% of their moisture and then freeze them.

For breakfast this morning; bacon, egg, mushroom, and a fat plumb beef tom. The flavour is immense and a little reminder that spring will soon be here.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

I'll have to try that next year with the toms, Stu.

I've just realised that the toms and cues that my wife has been buying are coming from Morocco so I've told her to stop buying then and I'll go over to the extensive collection of pickles and chutneys that she made last summer instead. The toms weren't that good anyway.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

Just dug up some spuds for dinner and they are rooting. The buds on our willow trees are breaking and we have some leaves, albeit very small ones.

Spring is here!!!
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adam2
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by adam2 »

A neighbour who rears beef cattle states that despite a few very cold days, the last 12 months have been generally mild with good grass growth and less demand for prepared feed.

Another neighbour has a had good year on a mixed arable farm, with a sideline of pigs.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

It wasn't that good a year last year where we are in West Berkshire because the very dry spring stunted new growth of both grass and cereals. The grass never recovered and it is estimated that the grain harvest was reduced by as much as 50% when the previous wet autumn is taken into account as well. I had quite a good year in the garden because I had a large store of rain water from the winter to water my crops. Otherwise I wouldn't have had much at all.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

I had covered my spuds with a six inch layer of straw before the frost to protect them and stop the ground from freezing. They were very easy to dig once the straw was removed with no frost in the ground at all. The carrot bed, on the other hand, was frozen to about two inches deep as it was not covered. I did manage to get enough carrots out for a couple of meals and they were undamaged. Everything has thawed out now though.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by Catweazle »

adam2 wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:19 pm A neighbour who rears beef cattle states that despite a few very cold days, the last 12 months have been generally mild with good grass growth and less demand for prepared feed.

Another neighbour has a had good year on a mixed arable farm, with a sideline of pigs.
Same here Adam, my Kunekune pigs eat grass and have been doing well all Winter. They've also been enjoying boiled eggs because we've had such a surplus.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by kenneal - lagger »

My daughter bought home a pack of roasted, salted broad beans on Saturday to be eaten as a snack. They were very good to eat so I will try some of them as a way of preserving broad beans for the winter. Next is to try using them in a broad bean recipe. I do a bean, onion and tomato stew quite often so I will try them in that. I will cook the onion and tomato up first and the add the beans late on as they are already cooked.
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Re: A Good Year in the Garden

Post by BritDownUnder »

The cover is now back on the greenhouse as I noticed a general slowing down in growth and things coming to ripeness. The daytime temperatures are still reasonable, 20 - 25 degC but nights are getting colder. I doubt the cover will last a third year as holes are beginning to appear.
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