Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Growing lessons learned 2014

We've been growing our own veg since 1979, sort-of growing to sell on and off for 22 years, growing seriously for selling for 3 years. Each year is different and there are always new things to try, changes to plan and the weather to cope with.

Here is the post I did about growing to make a small profit back in June and this is what actually happened in the growing season of 2014

Daffs and Alstromeria
We may well stop bothering with Daffodils to sell, they take up a whole bed for little return, although I'm not sure we will get round to digging them up this Autumn. I sold several bunches of Alstromeria  early on then they stopped growing. Must remember to cut back and feed them this autumn.

Early potatoes
We had 4 beds of early and second early potatoes in the garden and had plenty to sell and to eat. We are still eating the last of the Charlotte.

A wonderful crop to sell as usual, our biggest income.

Again these were good, we sold lots of punnets from the summer rows and we are still eating the Autumn variety, picking a basin full every other day.

Tomatoes,cucumbers, peppers and Aubergines
75 Tomato plants gave us plenty to sell for 2 and a half months, anything from 2 to 8 bags a day. The giant Andine variety  have been skinned and put in the freezer for winter. They have now slowed down to only a couple of bags a week to sell. Shirley were the best quality this year. There are still some green tomatoes which may not ripen before a hard frost in which case we will bring them in and put in a tray indoors.
Cucumbers were poor, I grew 8 plants, only 6 survived so we bought 2 from a boot sale. They should have been watered more - 2 or 3 times a day might have helped keep the disease/whatever it was away.
I didn't grow enough sweet pepper plants this year, normally they are still going well into September but there are only a few left to ripen. I've put enough in the freezer to last us all winter - hopefully and sold all the rest. Chili peppers sell slowly, about 2 bags a week, but that is enough to pay for their space. Aubergines looked good but a lot of the early flowers didn't set. We had enough to have some for our aubergine and pasta bake and more to sell. They do make something different to go out on the stall.

We had a dozen plants but should have watered them more, they were very prolific for a while but slowed down quickly.They ought to be still producing but have gone mildewy and more or less died.

Runner and Climbing French beans
The climbing french beans were a great success we sold many, many bags  for £1 bag. Because I had some gaps in the bed I bought another packet of seeds and these were actually better than the originals ( Isabella from DT Browns) The new sort grew longer rather than fatter, and as they are best when they are thin, were ideal. Annoyingly I have no record of what the new ones were, so have left some on the later sown tripod to dry off and use next year.
Runner beans were slow to get going but we have been selling between 2 and 8 bags full every day now for several weeks.
Today's picking of runners
Despite buying heat treated sets we still had some problems with rust, so sold a lot straight away rather than trying to keep them. However there were still enough decent quality to hang 3 big nets of onions in the shed, they'll need checking for rot now and again but hopefully we may not need to buy any until next spring.

Squash and Pumpkins
We were beaten by the weeds as the squash were slow to get going. It looks a real mess out on the field and I'm not sure how many squash we will find later. There does look to be a good crop of pumpkins, but slow to turn orange. This time last year we had already started selling them. We do know we have 1 HUGE pumpkin and 4 more nearly as big, I have no idea what I'm going to do with these monsters. We were given the plants, so they were not planned, as I know from experience that extra large don't sell well, people like them football size for Halloween and smaller for eating.

Successional sowing means they are a regular part of our lunch. We sold some early on, many got too big for selling, we now have a new sowing in the poly tunnel and some in the garden to be put in a sand box for winter.
As well as growing some from seed I sent for some starter plants and we were able to sell lots of cauliflowers as well as having enough for us. Most crops are still to come of course. Plenty for us and maybe a few green and red cabbage to sell.

No Cooking apples to sell this year, but plenty of eating apples and pears. Plums and apricots have gone in the freezer.

Other crops
We have had lettuce or salad leaves available almost every day. Broad beans were not much good again, we may not grow them next year. Sweetcorn is another thing we may not bother with, simply because it's possible to buy frozen sweetcorn for next to nothing and I would probably spend less than 2 packets of seeds. We have carrots just for us and chard.

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