An Extraordinary Year!
By James Smith, 19 August 2012 –
2012 has been unlike any of our previous growing years. If Spring is chilly then growth is slow but usually plants catch up with themselves during the Summer. This year has been different. This summer has offered a mix of torrential down pours, cold winds, followed by the recent scorching sun and high temperatures. Usual Summer fare includes courgettes, squash, aubergines, peppers and chillies. We will be lucky to just get a glimpse of these before the September frost puts an end to their chances for this year.
Thankfully our cucumbers and tomatoes in the tunnels are doing well, we just need to see some sunnier outbursts to help ripening. The sun in the last week has raised my spirits, providing perfect conditions to dry out this year's Garlic crop. It is now safely under cover on drying racks, and will be making it's way into the Crop Share bags next week.
We pride ourselves on producing very little waste. This year is different. Blight always hits Growing Well in late July and early August. Our response is to mow the infected tops of the potatoes, leaving the tubers in the ground to form a skin ready to lift in a few weeks. As we dig the potatoes they are usually blemish free and delicious and very few are wasted. On Tuesday we lifted 80 kgs of potatoes, twenty kgs of which we had to put in the compost. The torrential rain had washed the sides of the ridges away exposing the potatoes to light. The exposed tubers prepare to sprout, turning green with chlorophyll, making them inedible. Our other problem is slugs, thousands of them. Rootcrops are usually safe to store in the ground, being cool and dark, but not this year as the large holes in some potatoes prove.
On a more positive note growing is seasonal. We are positively looking forward to Autumn and Winter, busily sowing and planting cabbages, kales, spring onions and salads for the months ahead. Although the variety of crops this summer has been limited, we always have the rest of the year to make amends and next year to look forward to.