Real Men Sow

A Difficult Winter Ahead?

It’s going to be a tough winter on my plot.

I’ve gone from my best ever winter in 2010, where I was virtually self sufficient all the way through, to wondering if I’ll have anything decent to harvest this year.

I posted last week about my leek rust loss. Three whole rows of my most valuable winter crop all taken by the disease was bad enough, but there’s lots more problems a foot. Plot 105 is not a happy ship…

My ever-reliable curly kale is besieged by whitefly, to the point where getting the eggs off before I eat it is near on impossible. Kale has been a mainstay of my winter diet ever since I took my plot on, and we tend to eat it at least once a week. I’m hoping a cold snap might kill the bugs off, but at the mo the temperature seems keen to stay warm.

Barring a minor miracle, I’m not going to get fat on my sprouts:

My PSB has gone to seed. That’ll be two years without one of our favourite veg. I won’t be repeating last year’s cauliflower achievements either. From Cauli-power to Cauli-wally.

I planted two rows of Autumn King carrots, but they’re struggling too. Not very big yet, and the foliage is dieing on the earlier row already.

I’ve put my King Edward potatoes and various squashes in store, and although the harvests were okay, they didn’t get close to previous year’s quantities. I reckon these might last until Christmas, but I’m already a squash down as I’m bartering one for leeks with my friend Sarah.

On the plus side, there is half a row of perpetual spinach doing okay, and the freezer is looking after a few bags of broad and French beans. My florist bucket parsnips are probably the most encouraging veg, but the ones in the ground have succumbed to my stony soil and are growing out in all sorts of strange ways.

Tough times, and a not conducive to a good end for my Veg Savings experiment.

Guess I’ll have to put my hand in my pocket.

Internet unsmiley face.

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  1. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLifeOctober 13, 2011 at 7:03 pmReply

    My whole running-out-of-steam thing mid-year has really reduced our winter crops – no summer sowing – but we’ve still got some leeks outside (I feel almost guilty that mine are still growing fine :) ) and in the store/freezer, some squash, potatoes, soft fruit, tomatoes and things that are jam/chutneyified. Not a whole lot of stuff – glad it’s not our entire winter sustenance! :)

    • Jono

      JonoOctober 14, 2011 at 3:41 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Louisa,

      Its been a funny year, can’t quite put my finger on what’s happened, but quite a few GYOers I’ve spoken to have had the running-out-of-steam thing.

      I’ve got some stewed fruit too, and a big bag of quince now, so musn’t grumble too much.

      And I have had fun. :)

  2. MaryOctober 14, 2011 at 8:14 pmReply

    Keeping my fingers crossed for winter crops. Brussels, cabbage, cauliflowers and EPS broccoli looking good. Have lost some early leeks to a grub of some sort but hoping later, smaller ones are ok. Got some really small spring cabbage seedlings growing but not large enough to prick out yet. If all else fails we’ll live off the runner beans and tomatoes from the freezer!

  3. Sarah HarperOctober 14, 2011 at 8:33 pmReply

    Our garden went in late and no time to make extra beds for winter veg, I have managed to get a crop of parnsips, decent onions and potatoes and a fair few pumpkins. The chard is ok in the green house and lots of runner beans. I am topping up the freezer with the local Estates surplus which they sell off fairly cheaply and learning more about foraging so I can utilise the wild greens we have in abundance her. Funny old Summer!

  4. Jono

    JonoOctober 14, 2011 at 8:51 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Mary and Sarah,

    Glad you’re doing well!

    ‘Funny old summer’ seems to be a phrase I’m uttering a lot.

    Onions are another one that has done poorly this summer, although I’ve still got a big bag of my earlies in store.

    Oh well, good opportunity to concentrate on a proper winter tidy up and manure…

  5. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » A Weekend Workout – Just What I Needed to Cheer Myself UpOctober 17, 2011 at 9:25 pmReply

    [...] A Difficult Winter Ahead? [...]

  6. Naomi/OutofmyshedOctober 17, 2011 at 9:25 pmReply

    Hi Jono,Have had leeks problems too, but mostly due to not keeping some rampaging nasturtiums in check. On the good side though, dug up my first load of Jerusalem artichokes for dinner tonight-delicious and lots more to come . V.impressed with your squashes. Thinking of growing these for our community project next year-any recommendations for best/easiest to grow varieties. Naomi

    • Jono

      JonoOctober 18, 2011 at 6:31 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Naomi.

      I’ve never grown Jerusalem artichokes, one to try next year.

      Would definitely recommend growing squashes for your project. They’re brilliant – they look great, are expensive to buy and keep for ages.

      I grow a lot of Crown Prince. They store all through winter, and have a really bright orange flesh that contrasts with the turquoisey skin. They’ve got the wow factor.

      Some of the summer squashes are good fun too. They’re juicier than the later ones, but you pick them when they’re a bit bigger than a tennis ball during the summer. Sweet Lightening and Summer Buttons are good.

      I use this method to plant them:

  7. Naomi/OutofmyshedOctober 18, 2011 at 7:36 amReply

    Thanks Jono-they sound perfect. Will definitely use your growing method at my allotment, but thinking of growing in growbags for our community project-think they’ll be as successful ?
    Would highly recommend Jerusalem artichokes. This is the second year I’ve grown them. Almost impossible to buy and very (very) expensive if you do find them, can harvest from October through ’til March, need no looking after and so far, seem pest free-oh, and they taste fantastic and be cooked in loads of different ways.

    • Jono

      JonoOctober 18, 2011 at 10:59 amReplyAuthor

      They do like to spread their roots around, so not sure how they’d do in a grow bag. I reckon if you did try it, then maybe stick to one plant per bag.

      Any particular varieties you’d recommend for the artichokes?

  8. Naomi/OutofmyshedOctober 19, 2011 at 8:14 amReply

    Fuseau seems to be the only variety available (and recommended by Joy Larkcom) as it’s smoother and less knobbly than other varieties. I was given a more knobbly variety by a friend (who doesn’t know what variety it is), but might try both next year to see if there’s a difference in taste. Happy to send you some knobbly artichokes for planting later in the year if you want.

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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