Wednesday 23 September 2009

Cut Flowers

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.


  1. A year's review is always good. As I don't grow ad many veggies as you, I make mine throughout the year or at the change of the seasons. I'm making such a review now.

  2. Your year sounds great to me especially since you only started back in march. Don't give up on the cabbages it's always disheartening when something fails, but I found sometimes it works the next time. I grew 'Wheelers Imperial' and 'Greyhound' and can recommend these two cabbages. The outer leaves all got munched by slugs, but the hearts are so firm and large that there was still a tasty cabbage for us even after composting the outer leaves.
    Roasted beetroot is excellent isn't it, we love it.
    I think I need to do a review as well.

  3. You sound like you had a smashing year considering the short time you've had your plot.

    I also need to write my review.

  4. Considering the short time you've had your plot Jo, and despite the failures, which I always think come with the 'territory', you seem to have done well on the whole.

    I thinks brassicas are difficult to grow and at the allotment we seem to have more success with potatoes, carrots, beetroot, courgettes, spinach, onions and runner beans. The strawberries this year were phenomenal and just kept coming! In my modest raised beds at home I had little gem lettuces, cucumbers and rocket coming out of my ears!!

    Like you, we are going to dig in some good old manure at the allotment - that should be a fun day!


  5. I love roasted beetroot too - with white sauce.

  6. I think you've had a great should be very proud of yourself!! Keep up the hard's all worth it in the end!!!

  7. A review like this, will put perspective into gardening; the chores and the art. The artistry element in gardening is most intriguing.... To do better or worse on certain plants are just normal.., the little ups and downs. We always get better each time Jo!..... Cheers and Blog On!! ~bangchik

  8. I'd love to have a cutting garden so that there were always fresh flowers in the vases (that I didn't have to pay exhorbitant amounts for at the market ;-) You've made some nice selections, I love zinnia and sunflowers are perfect for simple arrangements. Cheers!

  9. Hey Jo, appreciate the encouragement re three year target.

    Almost had my leeks pulled out by Princess Paige yesterday... they're about the only things on the allotment that look worth pulling out now & she was taking a fancy to them. Fortunately got to her in time!

    Regards, John

  10. A review is good to look back on, Mary Delle. I'm sure it will help when I'm planning next year.

    Thanks for the recommendations, Maureen. Yes, I love roasted beetroot. I'll make sure that I sow more seeds next year.

    I don't think I've done too bad, Kella. I suppose there are always some failures.

    I've got my manure at the ready, Jeanne. It won't be long until it's dug into the beds now.

    I haven't tried roasted beetroot with white sauce, Re. I'll have to give that a try.

    Thanks, Tanya. Yes, it is worth all the hard work.

    Yes, I suppose there's always ups and downs in gardening, Bangchik. It's all been fun though, and that's what matters.

    I'm hoping for a nice selection of flowers for the cutting patch, Avis. I'm still looking for some more varieties.

    Phew, glad you managed to catch her, John. My leeks are still looking a little feeble, but I'm hoping they put on some more growth.


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