Autumn is a good time to reflect on your gardening year, either the joy and satisfaction from what worked well or the disappointment of what didn’t. We find that this reflection now is really helpful for planning next year and creating a bed plan, planning how much space we allocate to different crops, understanding where we plan to grow with our crop rotation scheme and whether we stop growing certain varieties to make more space for others.
Autumn seems to be here quickly in 2020, I guess because like many of you, we’ve also spent so much more time in the garden this year.
Brassicas - A successful brassica year, with swede, cabbage, kale, and Brussel sprouts all still being harvested. Cabbages are too big for just two of us and with no family visits for Sunday lunch, we’re filling the freezer with the last harvests.
Legumes - Beans and peas have all been good, especially broad beans and French bean varieties. We only sowed broad beans in spring this year (last Autumn was just too soggy), but this year Aquadulce are going in now. We’ll also be Autumn sowing Pea Douce.
We’ve still not learnt to plant fewer runner beans though; the flowers are just too beautiful, and the bees deserve them.
Carrots - We have avoided pesky carrot fly this year, growing in deeper beds and sowing thinly to avoid any thinning out, and have had lots of harvests of all varieties of our carrots. I have to say, the mixed heritage carrots remain my favourite, they look fantastic and taste beautiful and sweet.
Squash - All of our Courgette varieties had a good year, but we were late planting squash and pumpkins due to being so busy in spring. We’ll certainly be rectifying that this year as the Crown Prince squash soup is my favourite!
Salad/Catch crops - We dedicated a raised bed to salads and spring onions this year (with a wall of sweet peas on one side) so this was our summer delight. We still have spinach, rocket, little gem, spring onions and red salad bowl growing, and whilst leaves taste a bit bitter compared with summer sweetness, they remain productive. We also have celery still in this bed.
Tomatoes and Chillies - Other than Tumbling Toms, we grew all our other tomatoes outside this year (after starting them indoors from seed). Other than a few ‘windy day’ incidents that toppled them over, the crops were all really good, and we found that ripening was staggered compared with those grown in a greenhouse. Chillies have been amazing this year, in abundance, with some kept in the greenhouse and others in our conservatory. Favourites have been, Jalapeno, Cayenne, Chocolate Habanero and Bolivian (we are struggling to source new Bolivian seeds now!) We’re going to try over-wintering some Jalapenos this year. Carolina reaper took a long time to get to fruit stage this year for some reason, but we might just get a handful of these before the plant goes over.
Other vegetables - We never fail to have decent parsnips and beetroot, and this is the same this year. Leeks are also good this year, some grown in with the carrots (fending off any carrot fly). Celeriac has already been into tasty soups and we just have a few left out to harvest.
There is always room for “could do better” but this is what provides the motivation to improve next year. What is so great about growing your own food is that every year there are different challenges, and you learn something new each season. This reflection proves that you have far more successes than failures, and the joys and satisfaction of growing your own vegetables by far outweigh the disappointments.
So what are you waiting for? Get your seed orders in for next year!