Some people may think that growing vegetables is a rather dull occupation. This summer has definitely not been dull.
More experienced gardening neighbours have said you never stop learning and every year brings new challenges. Because of the cold spring the start of the season was sluggish. I am not known for my patience and was keen to sow seeds left, right and centre but as mentioned previously heat is not the only factor required for seeds to germinate. Light is critical as well as the correct amount of moisture.
Quite a lot of my early sowings, inside and out, failed and I should have waited. When conditions are right the little plants start romping away so there is no point in trying to rush them. I shall no doubt make the same mistake next year.
The kale was particularly slow and caused concern for some while. The cavolo nero just didn’t want to come to the party and only one plant matured satisfactorily. Eventually the curly kale got going and is now serving us well. I have many more coming along in pots so I am really hoping for kale throughout the winter. The collard, new to us this year, has been amazing, serving us well in our morning smoothies and making wonderful crispy greens.
The chard and spinach started off well but then the glorious weather began and conditions were too hot. They all started bolting and caused a lot of frustration. I had decided to grow some chard in the front garden interspersed with some busy lizzies. Chard is, after all, a very attractive plant.
Some home made compost was added to the ground and the little plants put in. The home made compost was, of course, full of worms so by the following morning the blackbirds had pulled all the little plants out in their enthusiasm to get to the worms.
I had some spare weed control membrane in the garage so I spent a long time replanting and protecting with that. This seemed to be working but then the sparrows decided that young chard plants were really tasty and helped themselves. I am determined to find something to grow that the birds will not destroy. I am now experimenting with mooli, beetroot and spring onions which the birds are currently ignoring.
We had a wonderful spell of lettuce but this fell off the cliff in August. The same thing happened last year so many more seeds were sown but for some reason didn’t germinate. The latest project is winter lettuce – rouge d’hiver and hilde. To have lettuce all year round would be brilliant.
One crop that has enjoyed the hot weather is radish, giving us a very quick turnover at the height of the season. We now have winter radish growing and looking well.
The pak choi is delicious. However, just about every other creature on the planet thinks so too. We are now experimenting with pak choi in pots in the porch. Maybe we can keep some of the beasts at bay.
Now that the weather has cooled down the veggies are much happier and the patch looks tidy and controlled. Everything is either netted or under cloches – those birds cannot be trusted.
We look forward to a winter feast of fresh veggies.
Got any tips or questions of your own about extending the vegetable season into autumn? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.