(I forgot to publish this before the end of August but it still makes sense even two weeks later)
We’re now at the end of August and the Polytunnel has continued to produce reasonable quantities of various things.But first the bad. The tomatoes are well behind normal August last year saw over 15kg of fruit. This year its under 3kg. Obviously its depends upon the cultivars being grown but this year the plants have grown too much green and not enough flowers. Its largely my fault, I have tended them as well as I should and I’ve got too many different varieties. So next year (as ever) more attention to the plants and fewer unknown varieties. I think I should focus more on those that I know I like and less upon extending the number of varieties in my collection.
Whether its part of the too much greenery or just the varieties, I’ve found that many of those which have ripened are pretty tasteless and won’t be grown again. Definite no growers are Micro Tom and Giallo D’Iverno. Micro Tom has absolutely no flavour and Giallo D’Iverno is almost bitter. On the other hand Petit Moineau are full of flavour and Angelle is early, tastes reasonable and comes in quantity.
I’m hoping that the next few weeks will see the tomatoes fruiting well and we’ll end up with a reasonable crop.
At the other end of the spectrum, the French Beans have done really well. Last year August produced less than half a kilo of beans, this year we’ve had four and a half out of the same space. I grow French Beans in the Polytunnel, 14 poles of climbing and 2/3rd of a bed of dwarf. If I’ve leaned anything this year, its to pick the flat beans when they’re smaller than you think they should be. As soon as they grow large (by which I mean over six inches long) they get stringy. The pencil beans don’t seem to have this problem. My favourite remains Blue Lake. A heavy cropper of tasty beans so I grow those up seven of the poles and then mix different varieties on the others.
Similarly, this year has been a good one for Courgettes (8.5kg vs 1.7kg last year), Cucumbers (5kg vs 2kg).
Lettuce has also done well although some of the seed is getting a bit old and its hard to work out which are going to germinate.
New this year were cabbages which have done well the problem being the space that they take up.
Failures (as ever) have been radishes, whatever I do they don’t grow sensibly; swiss chard & beetroot, both of which were badly affected by leaf miner and I’m hoping that whilst it will have affected the size of the crop I’ll still have some to pick and (in the case of beetroot) pickle. The last sowing of swiss chard seem to avoided leaf miner and so hopefully, there will be leaves to come in the spring.
The battle with the squirrels continues and the magpies have joined in. A significant percentage of the crop of eating apples has been had by one or the other although there are still lots more than last year and the eaters (Discovery) are now ripe and almost ready to pick. I’m hoping that we’ll pick them in the next fortnight or so and they’ll be enough to last us to the beginning of winter. The cookers seem to have been left alone and we have a lot more than last year.
Finally the Raspberries and Alpine Strawberries are fruiting enough to give us each a handful to go with our cereal each day.
All in all, a good August, productive and a lot less annoying that the allotment.