Goodbye & Good Riddance


Rain, rain, mud, slug, rain… let's wring (dry) in the New Year
Rain, rain, mud, slug, rain… let’s wring (dry) in the New Year

Well, there goes my second year here; and I’m so glad that I had 2011 as my first growing year on my own – I think if I’d started this year, I would have given up. There have been quite a large number of times this year when I’d felt like giving up, and that I was literally drowning: the inevitable, persistent and depressing rain seemed to make an appearance every day in the last six months. Plus the cloying, sapping and unworkable silty mud which made even walking from one patch to another exhausting; let alone the endless slugs, scheming pigeons and other pests who were keen to steal hard-won veg away.

So thanks for nothing (although cheers for the leeks and tomatoes) and now bugger off 2012: I’m sure 2013 will be better. Apart from anything else, since the world didn’t come to an end last week, it’ll be a bonus eh? I just can’t wait for the feeling in spring, when you are actually properly dry, and start to warm up with the sun on your face. Bliss…


Psst! PSB!

IMG-20121207-00091I’ve had an early Christmas present: some of the early purple sprouting broccoli has started coming through, yippee! It’s actually quite late for the early stuff, which in theory should have started producing lovely foliage-rich purple spears of budding flowers back in November; but this has been such a disasterous season, it’s a miracle there’s any at all. The later plants are also looking ok (only lost some sections of four rows planted in summer to slugs and pigeons); so fingers crossed that this smattering of PSB is only a taste of things to come early next year…

Boozy Raspberries

Hops spread round the base of Autumn Bliss plants, before the canes are cut back
Hops spread round the base of Autumn Bliss plants, before the canes are cut back

Apart from some picking (a little kale, rainbow chard, mixed salad leaves and lots of leeks still around) and a little seed sowing for micro leaves this week, there’s not a lot going on. Things have shut down for the winter now growing-wise; although I’m hoping that the sunny spell over the weekend might have encouaged the leafy things to grow a little bigger, ready for Christmas week. So it’s just a matter of pottering around, tidying up, and sorting things out ready for next year; plus working out my rotations for tunnels and field next year, and starting to order seeds – I’ll need to sow chillies and more lettuces in February, which I’m sure will creep up quickly on me like last year.

One thing I’m trying out now is mulching the raspberries with spent hops from my chums at Willy Good Ale at Hartley Farm; I like to mulch the raspberries canes with something, and tried green waste compost last year, to help block out the weeds a bit, and give them a feed (and the worms a treat). I think the hops will break down quicker, which will give them more of a nitrogen boost; but will probably need an extra mulch in spring/early summer to keep the weeds at bay. It’d be great to think the hops also give the raspberries a nice beery flavour, but somehow I don’t think that’ll happen…