5 October 2008

Gardening notes

I thought I'd recap on what food we tried growing this year and how I'd rate each one and which ones we'll try next year.

Dwarf beans - YES
Super quick and easy to grow from seed (actually from bean), happy in container, decent crops, good taste. Will definitely grow these again next year, in successional sowings for even longer cropping.

Butternut squash - NO
The seedling we bought only really took off in September, WAY too late. I don't think it was happy in the small pot. I've read up more about growing butternuts and don't think I'll bother next year. Too much time, effort and space needed for relatively little reward.

Lettuce - YES
Grown from seed, the mixed lettuce was quick, easy and quite happy in a container, with good yield. The lettuce went absolutely mad and produced loads of salad all through the summer, no matter now fast we picked it. A good money saver.

Cucumbers - YES
Grown from seedling that we bought. There were six growing and more flowers but only one turned into a cucumber. I don't think it was happy in the small container we had it in. The single cucumber was delicious, however, and I think we'll try cucumbers again next year, planted in the ground and possibly from seed.

Tomatoes - NO
The patio tomatoes (bought as small plant) weren't very good tasting and took ages to produce. The other tomato plant we bought finally started producing / ripening in September. We don't particularly prefer the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes (it's still covered in green ones) so we probably won't bother with these next year.

Spring onions - MAYBE
Planted from seed, they took forever to come up and stayed very skinny for ages and didn't grow very fast. They are still quite skinny. I might try them again next year if I have a spare container as we still have seeds. We have eaten some in salads but they are more like chives.

- YES!!!
These are my star pick of the year. So easy to grow and they were AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS! Honestly, I'm on a high when I think of how much they produced and how delicious they were. I've already bought a different type of seed that you can sow in autumn and harvest in spring - I need to get them into the ground soon so that we can eat carrots the whole way through the spring, summer and autumn next year. I will sow them more thinly next time.

Green peppers - NO
Grown from seedlings. We picked the first one too soon and it was disgusting - so bitter. There are another couple on the plant that are ripening but we don't know how long to leave them and so ... we've just left them. I won't bother next year.

Basil - YES
This grew beautifully on my kitchen windowsill, from seed. Even though I did use it quite a bit, I don't think I trimmed it often enough or correctly and it eventually went leggy and kind of died. I pulled it all out and planted some more. It was lovely while it lasted, definitely worth it even though it's not still thriving. Let's see if I can tend the next batch better - the seedlings are coming up nicely although not as fast due to the cooler weather (it's not as warm on the windowsill as it was in summer).

Peas - YES
Grown from seed (well, pea) in containers - they didn't seem at all happy in the containers but did produce a few pods of peas. They were absolutely delicious so I'm willing to try more next year, in the ground.

Strawberries - YES
Grown from a small plant we bought. A few appeared at a time but with only one small plant it didn't produce crops exactly, just one or two ripe berries every couple of weeks. However, come September it went mad with blossoms and berries! I keep picking off the blossoms so that it can put all its energy into the berries that it's produced. It's already produced a child plant which I've seperated from the parent so next year we'll start with a bigger plant plus a second one and continue to propagate them that way. If it overwinters well I think it will be the start of a lovely strawberry patch in the back garden (which we're having fenced in). The strawberries are divinely delicious so worth another shot.

Next year we'll definitely start planting much earlier! I think we only began in June or something - we should have started in April. I'll also be armed with a better plan, more information, a proper garden bed (that we've already dug, I never posted pics), more variety and greater commitment.

I'm a convert!

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