By the end of the summer I’m always more than ready for the pace to ease to a little as we head into the Autumn. It’s part of the seasonal rhythm of the job and the nature of growing in this part of the world where the main growing season is relatively short meaning that a lot needs to happen in a short space of time when growing vegetables.
No year is typical weather-wise but this year the spring was almost worryingly dry and the summer much wetter than I usually expect here. Consequently from June we had much less watering to do and whilst there are rather too many big weeds there are thankfully some big crops too. This of course bodes well for hearty veg shares during the Winter months – phew!! Notably we’ve had a great harvest of potatoes, the beetroot are huge and plentiful and we just picked 1300 lovely squash which will add a splash of colour to Winter meals.
There no crop as yet which I am overly worried about – most yields look set to be average to good. Of course it’s not just down to the weather. The fertility of the soil improves year on year and I like to think we get better at what we do observing the successes and failures and making adjustments to our plans. That said I was very glad of the rain when it came!
Recently we’ve had great harvests of sweetcorn which does well in this part of the country and always goes down a treat with our members. Cucumber have cropped for 4 months from the same plants and are only just starting to tail off. We’re also loving the peppers which are at their best a the end of September when they’ve had long enough to ripen from green to either orange, yellow or red (each colour a different variety).
The polytunnels have recently been planted with spinach chard, spring cabbage and winter salads. We’ve a last few bits and pieces to go in – some overwintered onions and more cabbages and we’ll be planting broad beans in the field in the next couple of weeks after which planting will be well and truly done for this year.
Out in the field the final harvests are of beetroot and celeriac in November and the rest of the crops remain in the ground for the Winter. They’ll withstand the cold apart from the carrots which we tuck up in a bed of straw. Then the pace changes completely with the shorter days as we start planning the next season and bring out the list of ‘Winter jobs’ . . .