patch from scratch mid summer crop review

Patch from Scratch Mid Summer Crop Review

Is the second week of August mid-summer? Can I call it that?

Anyway, I thought the time right to put together a Patch from Scratch crop update. So far, the patch has been a little hit and miss, but I had to expect that. The soil hadn’t been used for growing in many years, and adapting to a small area was always going to be a challenge after the allotment.

The Good – Beetroot, Celeriac, Pink Fir Apple Potatoes and Squashes
I’ve grown these Cylindra beets for the first time, which have made a nice change from the normal round varieties. At first, I wasn’t sure, but now I rather like the long, spherical, and easy to slice beet.

mid summer crop review

I started celeriac off in the greenhouse in February, in seed trays. They took weeks to germinate, but they eventually reached a few centimetres high and I planted them out. They’ve asked for a lot of water, but the roots are swelling and I’m really happy with how this crop is looking.

The pink fir apple potatoes have taken up more room than I’d have liked, but once again they appear to be a potato that provides true bang for the buck. I can’t wait to harvest them and see just how many of the beautifully nobbly tatties are hiding in the soil.

I have vertically growing butternut squashes!

crop review

I haven’t been able to train all of the plants up my old football net structure, but I have succeeded with some. There are lots of good size squashes forming around the plot, and this is a relief to me. Squashes are one of the most important vegetables I grow, as they save me a lot of money and will keep through the winter months.

Honourable Mentions: Strawberries, lettuces, cucumbers, courgettes, carrots.

The Bad – French Beans, Perpetual Spinach and Spring Onions
Oddly, two of the most reliable crops I grow have given me grief this year. My French beans began to crop, but after a couple of weeks the beans went very floppy and the leaves turned a browny colour. I think these plants went in too early, and although yet to crop, the second sowing is looking much healthier.

My perpetual spinach went to seed really early too. I can only blame the weather here. I pulled the plants up and resowed, and hopefully, the new crop will be ready for the winter.

One day, I will succeed with spring onion. All I want is one. I’m told spring onions are one of the easiest veg to grow, so if anyone out there can shed some light for me, it’d be very much appreciated!

Other Baddies: gooseberries and blackcurrants weren’t as productive as usual, but this is their first year after a move.

The Ugly – Brassicas, Peas and Broad Beans
The pests have been the instigators of my uglies this year. My brassicas – PSB, cavolo nero, sprouts, and beloved curly kale have been absolutely decimated by the cabbage white butterflies. This has really got me down! I was in a genuine grump yesterday, which led my wife to say ‘you’re in a mood because of your veg patch, aren’t you?’.

To cheer myself up, here’s a picture of the kale and cavolo nero, looking beautifully healthy before the butterflies came.

mid summer patch review

For the first time, I suffered from pea moth. I harvested a couple of kilos of mangetout, and a bowlful of peas before the moths took hold. After this, all my pods were filled with little maggots.

There seemed a lot of blackflies around during spring and early summer as well. They quickly took hold of my broad beans, and I had a running battle to keep the little critters off my courgette and French bean plants too. Hot water mixed with a squirt of washing up liquid helped defeat the small outbreaks.

So, an interesting year to date. I’ve had more good than bad, but somehow those uglies have overshadowed everything!

What is doing well for you? What are your good, bad, and uglies?

16 thoughts on “Patch from Scratch Mid Summer Crop Review”

  1. Hi Jono,
    I didn’t like beetroot until I grew Cylindra last year.Great halved longways and roasted with some Balsamic vinegar. Have also had success with yellow/orange varieties as well this year.
    The trombone squashes that found their way up the boundary fence have been the best as the fruits are kept off the ground.So next year I’ll plant them all next to the fence.A great space saver.
    My Golden Sweet mangetout peas were a bit too good and produced vast numbers.A passing dog walker criticised me for not harvesting all of them!
    The small yellow Minidor beans are also going full belt and are lurking underneath the foliage in fast numbers.The Amethyst purple beans are less good though and two other varieties complete failures despite later resowings.
    The chards have all been good producing thick stems.

    Having similar problems as you with brassicas.Cabbage Whites seem to have no problems infiltrating the netting.I think that my planting has been too close as everything has surged upwards and even pulled up the netting leaving gaps for more butterfly attack. Next year I’m going to try to restrict the number of plants and be much more careful with my netting.

    So far mixed fortunes with potatoes.The early Orlas were an excellent cropper with a fantastic new potato flavour,whereas the Belle de Fontenay have been disappointing flavourwise and have suffered from eelworm.Stilll five more varieties to wade through!

    Gave up with spring onions after last year but now a convert to shallots from sets.Have also grown some “Continental” onions from seeds bought on Madeira.Effectively these are large spring onions so maybe this year’s weather has suited alliums up here.The onions on some of my neighbours plots are huge.

    1. Hi David, thanks for your comment.

      The only thing I did wonder with the cylindra is if I needed to plant the seeds a little deeper because of the longer root. Some seedlings almost fell over because the root stuck up out of the ground quite far.

      Agree on the shape though, they’re really useful.

      My Golden Sweet was prolific until the pea moth too.

      I think I’ve also planted too close together. Before when I’ve had problems with cabbage white they’ve stuck to one veg, but where I’ve planted close the PSB, kale, cavolo nero and sprouts could have been one plant.

      I’m going to cut back on my number of plants too next year. Courgettes are the same. I don’t need three plants taking up loads of space. Two is ample.

  2. Hi, I’ve grown spring onions – sow seeds in a pot and then plant out in clumps when they’re a couple of inches tall. Then completely ignore them until you suddenly realise you have loads of spring onions all ready at the same time! But what are even easier are Japanese bunching onions – I always find that spring onions form a little tiny round onion at the bottom, but Japanese bunching onions grow perfectly straight like shop-bought scallions. This is where I got my seeds:

    1. Thanks Orlaith, I wish I found spring onions as easy as you say haha.

      Will check out the bunching onions.

  3. I planted Nasturtium all over the plot this year and they were very successful at attracting both black and greenfly . My veg has been fly free but the flowers were covered. I shall be using them again.

    I also have Squash growing upright but unfortunately have inadvertently planted a pumpkin which is now football size and hanging in a hammock 5 feet above the ground oops!!

  4. Hiya
    We got spring onions as plug plants from a garden centre. They looked ‘okay’ but quite spindly and I wasn’t sure when I was planting them out that they would amount to much. That was mid May. Fast forward to now and they are big, green and gorgeous. We’ve had not much dry/sunny weather. Not sure if the rain is good for them? Conversely, husband sowed seeds in the polytunnel and the raised beds and they amounted to nothing…next year I am not direct sowing, I will sow into some large containers and then when they are like plug plants, plant them out. It’s worked this year so I’m going to try that method again. Also, nasturtioums are in the beds with the spring onions so maybe that helped with pests?

    1. Hey Lorraine and Lynne, funny you should say that about nasturtiums. I planted some down the other end of the garden and noticed that they were full of blackfly. I did wonder about whether they’d make a good sacrificial plant.

      Lorraine, loved your blogpost about the squash. 🙂

  5. Hi Jono

    For me the winter squash is going great guns despite me planting them out late. Particularly good pumpkin to note is the Hokkaido (I bought the seed because it said it would be good in a poor summer). It setting plenty of fruit on our sunny allotment plot and on the patio at home growing well in a tomato planter.

    Peas were going well at first but like you I keep finding grubs in the pods. Very frustrating. The peas have set a lot more flowers (probably thanks to weekly comfrey feed) so I’m still hoping. My direct sowing of french beans look like they will have more promise than the windowsill germinated ones.

    On the whole though, can’t say alot is cropping. I was late with a lot of things and gave others a miss due to my wedding preparations. The tomatoes are still green and the achocha has set teeny tiny fruit but I have yet to see them grow into anything.

    Oh another good thing of note is the oca. I have such prolific quantity of shoots that I’m contemplating making pesto out of it for its lemony flavour. Would be lovely spread on meat.

    But on the whole I can’t really say our plot is feeding us this year. More nice occasional garnishes!

    1. Hey Claire,

      I will try Hokkaido next year. Have been using up old seeds this year, but as I’ll need to buy plenty for 2014 I think I might try a few different variations.

      How do you make your comfrey feed? I’ve never done anything like this before, but really should.

      Hope you had an amazing wedding day. 🙂

  6. I like the look of your squashes and beetroot. I can’t seem to get any beetroot going but am persevering. My peppers and tomatoes have done well and lots of stuff still happening. Blackfly has been a bit of a curse and I’ve lost beans and broad beans. I can sympathise with you over you PBS and kale, this year I’ve gone netting crazy to make sure.

  7. My worst crop has been chard and perpetual spinach – all went to seed very quickly and the romanesco caulis too – no two years are the same are they.

  8. Hey Jono,

    Yep the wedding was amazing and its nice to now return to all my projects and start up new ones. The wedding took over completely over the last few months!

    Forgot to mention – I have never really had any success with spring onions so you’re not alone. I’m experimenting with other types to see if you can use the shoots in the same way – possibly as cut and come again. Egyptian walking onion’s one where you can do this. I’m also trying welsh onions.

    My comfrey feed – this is not from a book, just what I’ve been doing. Literally an open bucket at the top of the garden with comfrey leaves and rain water. I would leave it for 2 weeks and then start using it but keep topping up with more leaves so you have a non stop supply. I forage for mine on the canal path but keep an eye out for where it grows wild.

  9. I have tried growing onions in the garden also, never works, slugs like them! But I DO grow them on the porch in bins successfully, shallow dirt. Am too cheap to buy seeds, just use cut off roots from store bought onions and stick them in when I have used the top for whatever in the kitchen. More convenient for me right by the back door, too, as I use them so much.

    Am focusing on squash this year. I am worried about the butternut squash (if they mature) as to how long to leave them in the ground before picking, etc. Planted willy nilly, so am unsure what some of the squash are, unfortunately.

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