planting onions

A Tough Year on the Plot?

Next week marks the changing of the clocks, and for me, the time when I tend to do most of my plot reflecting.

I got ahead of myself today, however, whilst harvested my butternut squashes and digging over the bed and began pondering the summer that’s just been.

And do you know what? I think it’s been a tough year on the plot.

Nothing has really clicked this summer. Things started positively with an acceptable strawberry harvest and a few chunky rhubarb stems, but since then, lots of my fruit and veg has been a challenge.

Blackfly on the Broadies and Runners, Low Squash Numbers
The broad beans quickly developed blackfly, despite being overwintered plants and therefore supposedly less susceptible to the sticky pest. Blackfly soon spread to the nearby runners, and although I beat them, the plants definitely seemed less productive than usual.

The squashes only provided 5 from 4 plants, which again is disappointing compared to previous years. Normally I look for at least 2 fruits per plant.

The (not so) Reliables
Even the regular reliables, such as leeks, haven’t played ball this year. I followed my normal leek planting method, but the leeks have grown spindly (pictured) and the fat ones are few and far between. This may have been to do with being crowded out by one of my few successes this summer – the pink fir apple potato row which provided a smashing harvest for the little space it took.

French beans, another dependable, were poor too. I cannot fathom why the harvests on these plants were below par, as they are normally so productive that I end up freezing bags and bags of the beans. The only thing I did differently was plant in a block rather than a row, but I can’t see how that could have had such an effect on the yield.

And my favourite beetroot variety, the lovely and uniform Cylindra, hasn’t been great either. They’ve grown very slowly and I’ve only harvested a fistful so far, although I’m hoping that if I pop a cloche over the remaining beets they’ll grow some more before winter really arrives.

Better Luck Next Year…
I have no idea why the veg has struggled, and it’s not just me, either. Chatting to plot holders at the allotments, and other people on Twitter and this year has not lived up to their expectations either. The weather has been up and down, but maybe I should just take the Buddhist approach and accept that’s just the way it went this year. We can put the plot to bed for a few months, and try again come 2016.

How have you found 2015? Has the allotment proved tricky or you this year, or has it been a roaring success?

10 thoughts on “A Tough Year on the Plot?”

  1. This has been one of the best allotment years I can remember (Warwickshire).

    You may have an infestation of Leek Moth. I got round this by covering the leeks with fleece.

  2. My Leeks are just like yours – they are pathetically thin and just haven’t grown much at all. Some things have been good though, like Runner Beans, Carrots and Tomatoes. You win some, you lose some, every year!

  3. You have summed up the year very well. Like you squashes and leeks were a flop. But, we had a bumper year for blueberries, spuds, onions and runner beans. I try to focus on the successes 🙂

    1. blueberries, they’re my target for next year. Eaten lots from the shops but not many from my bush. Plan to plant it out instead of leaving it in the pot.

  4. Likewise my year has been patchy. Great start with rhubarb and PSB but it went downhill in early summer. Think it was that late frost we had here.
    Disasters have been sweetcorn and tomatoes. Runner beans struggled with that frost and then blackfly
    Pluses? Carrots have been good. Leeks looking good but just getting leek rust. Runners recovered to be very prolific. Waiting with baited breath to see what my sweet potato harvest is going to be…..

  5. I’ve found this year has been fantastic for fruit, bar strawberries. I have gleaming rows of jam jars and a freezer full for winter puddings. Spuds, onions, tomatoes, chillies, sweetcorn, saffron have all been really good this year too. The beans, melons, courgettes, squashes have all been rubbish though. It’s definitely been a bit of a bad year for them. Roll on 2016!

  6. its utterly fantastic to see allotments in this prosaic age and I really admire any gardener taking the time to don wellies and march down with a rake! very inspiring blog, keep posting 🙂

  7. While I only have 2 squashes per plant, my daughter planted a garden for the first time this year and got 60 squashes out of a small plot! I think her secret is manure from the field where they are raising beef. How do you feel about “real” manure as compared to bought compost or fertilizers? I think it has more oomph in it.

    1. Definitely use real manure when I can. I’ve started using my own kitchen compost on some beds over the past two seasons and it is like black gold! Best fertiliser I’ve ever had!

  8. It feels like it’s been a pretty good year with the possible exception of celeriac, which I think I’m going to give up on!

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