We're patting ourselves on the back a little and saying what a great year 2018 has been, growing our own vegetables, herbs and chillies. It’s likely it is not entirely down to our expertise and hard work though and just maybe, the weather may have had a lot to do with it!
But, gardening is all about dealing with the conditions you have and adapting to them and we've all had to do that this year. Watering has been a major activity for obvious reasons and we have had to limit our time away from the garden to ensure everything has had a regular water.
Each year we build up more expertise and constantly look to see how we can improve things. For example, this year we have avoided the dreaded carrot root fly completely in all of our carrot varieties by planting them in deep raised beds (50cm off the ground) and this has given us a great harvest, which continues.
Our later sowing of red cabbages, which we planted out in late August have grown much larger than the earlier sowing which had to endure the hot summer.
Successional sowings of radish, spring onions, little gem lettuce and beetroot have been more productive this year with the third sowing currently being harvested. For some areas in the UK, the hot summer may not have made as much difference to the size of their harvest but in West Yorkshire it has been exceptional and our French beans, Butternut Squash, Chillies, Peppers, Tomatoes and Cucumbers have been the best we have ever had. In fact our tomato and cucumbers grown outside did better than those in the greenhouse!
Not everything in the vegetable garden has been fantastic though, our Maris Piper potatoes were very poor (small and worm infested) and we had a lot of salad leaves and lettuces which bolted in mid-summer (no surprise there!).
The perennial flowers we sowed in March are continuing to flower even now, with our 3 Lupin varieties and Verbena all flowering and the Foxgloves and Lavender growing healthy foliage ahead of flowering next year.
Sowing and growing perennial flowers from seed, may seem a bit of hard work, and you need to be patient, but the savings and sense of achievement you will get can be huge especially if like us you have some large flower beds to fill. We have therefore made some late summer sowings of our perennial flower range in the greenhouse which will help to fill the large new mixed border we intend to create next year.
This year we have become, as most people have, a lot more conscious of single use plastic and although previously we did recycle many of the plastics pots and trays we acquired, this year we have taken it to a whole new level. We now recycle many of our friends and families pots and trays (unless broken) which means we have a constant supply to use at any time.
It takes a bit of effort, time and space to clean and store them all but if you could see the mountain of plastic that lay on our lawn drying on a particularly hot August day it makes you realise what a drop in the ocean (pardon the pun) our efforts are in reducing plastic use.
To that end we are going to stop buying plastic pots wherever possible and increase our use of cardboard and paper pots. Obviously, we will continue to use the plastic that already exists until they break but make more use of cardboard and paper pots. We already recycle toilet roll tubes to sow peas and beans in, but intend to also make paper pots from old magazines and newspapers.
To encourage the spread of this anti-plastic revolution we now sell a wooden paper pot maker, so if you know someone who would benefit from less plastic in the garden then this is a perfect gift!