I had a trip to Wyvale's again at the weekend, this time concentrating on seeds for the cut flower patch at the allotment. They still had their seed sale on, so I managed to get each packet for 50p each. So far I have chosen Sunflower - Harlequin F1 Hybrid, Cosmos - Purity, Cosmos - Picotee, Aster - Lazy Daisy Mix, Zinnia - Scabious Flowered Mixed, and Gypsophila Elegans - Covent Garden White. I also popped a packet of Sunflower - Giant Yellow in my basket, though obviously these aren't for cutting. I'm hoping to have vases full of fresh flowers next year.
I've been looking back at my successes and failures on the allotment this year. My biggest failure has to be the sweetcorn, which germinated so well, but let me down from the moment it was planted out. It's still in the ground but has only grown to about two foot. A few cobs have formed, but sadly I don't think they're edible. I put this down to the soil not being worked for so long, and no manure or compost was added. This is something I will be rectifying by adding lots of manure to the soil shortly.
Another failure were the brassicas. They were netted, which certainly worked by keeping the Cabbage White butterflies from laying their eggs on them, but the slugs got them instead. I did get a few cauliflowers, and the Brussels sprouts and calabrese look to be doing ok, fingers crossed, but the cabbages were a washout. I definitely won't grow cabbages next year and am still debating the other brassicas. I'll wait and see how the Brussels sprouts turn out.
I have discovered that I love roast beetroot, but didn't grow enough, so more seeds will be sown next year. Very few carrots germinated, and those which did didn't want to grow, again I'm putting this down to the state of the soil. I'll give them another go next year. The potatoes had alot of slug damage so next year I will try different varieties.
Well, reading so far it all sounds doom and gloom, but it isn't so. My strawberries were fantastic. I've taken some runners to add to the bed, so hopefully I should get an even bigger crop next year. I only had one courgette plant at the allotment this year, but it has produced plenty of tasty courgettes. I will have more than one plant next year.
I think my biggest success has been the beans. I've grown a dwarf French bean, a climbing French bean and runner beans. They have all done really well, and I'm still getting basket loads. The tastiest were the dwarf beans, but these had finished before the other two started cropping, so I'll sow more of those next year. I've also got some other beans to try next year, including some yellow and purple varieties.
The leeks are still in the ground but, as shown in an earlier post, are still spindly. I'll have to wait and see if they thicken up at all. I suppose they'll still be edible even if they don't. The parsnips are also still growing, but it's hard to know how they'll turn out without checking underground. Watch this space.
So all in all, I don't think I've had too bad a year to say I've only had the allotment since March, and the soil obviously isn't up to scratch. Now is the time to get some goodness back in the soil and start making my plans to improve next year.