Though it's raining as I write this and though temperatures have been dropping dramatically by night I thoroughly enjoyed the recent spell of dry, sunny, wonderful weather. Let’s say this: we really deserved it. As you know it was a terrible summer of weather and as a result, generally speaking, a frustrating one in the veg patch. Growth was slow and I spent most of the summer wondering whether the abundance of produce that is usually a characteristic of that time of year would ever materialise. The only things that seemed to be abundant, in fact, were the weeds.
By August I was nearly ready to write the year off altogether and prematurely turn my thoughts to 2016’s GIYing. But in September things finally cranked up a gear and we had proper gluts of courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes to join the peas, beans, carrots, spuds, onions and beetroot. It was the first time all year that I was able to walk around the veg patch and feel that the place looked the part. The arrival of the good weather from mid September was a bonus on top of a growing sense of satisfaction that the year was finally coming in to its own.
Undoubtedly I have had some epic fails this year, some of which can be attributed to the weather and some can’t. My celery bolted (too dry?); parsnips never germinated (bad seed or slugs?); French beans never made it beyond seedling stage (eaten by rabbits); I had smaller than normal squashes and pumpkins (lack of sun?). Since all of these are eminently storable vegetables, these growing issues will have a knock on effect in the winter kitchen.
But all in all, it didn’t shape up too badly. As I said, tomatoes recovered and if anything, were in the end a little better than last year (though as much as six weeks slower). I’ve had a great crop of onions, garlic and celeriac and I’m really pleased with my potatoes this year (including the maincrop spud variety Cara which is the best spud I’ve ever grown). I’m particularly proud of some remedial work on the fence around the veg patch which finally managed to keep the rabbits out after weeks of summer carnage!