A Review of My 2021 Growing Season…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
At the Start…

2021 was a big experiment year.

Two mini greenhouses to sow seeds and grow the plants on ready for planting out in a north-facing garden. It’s not an ideal situation, but studying which parts of the garden receive the most hours of sunlight across the day led to creating a central growing area, and the raised beds.

I started with one raised bed toward the bottom of the garden, made by my partner in autumn 2020. As I’ve been growing a small selection of vegetables in pots and fabric bags before this, the plan was to use the new bed for salad vegetables once the spring cabbage were cleared.

My first raised bed…

Early February two smaller home-made raised beds were added, allowing me to expand the growing space. Later in the summer, running out of room, I bought two small low level raised beds from B&Q.

Plus an area intended for the canes for the climbing French Beans. And the usual pots and fabric bags for other plants.

I had an assortment of seed packets from gardening magazines, along with the beans and salad leaves seeds remaining from 2020. Added to, on a trip to the Garden Centre, 2nd Early and Maincrop seed potatoes (Maris Peer, and Vivaldi) for growing in bags.

Failures or As Near As…

Let’s get the failures out of the way first…

Without the awful spring weather, my stubby Carrots may have germinated in the large hanging basket. Some of the seedlings appeared 6-8 weeks later, but they didn’t grow.

Maybe the hanging basket wasn’t the best container either…

The spring sowing of Boltardy Beetroot put out a lot of leaves but after four months the majority were not even golf-ball size. I started them in modules in the greenhouse and after planting out they grew reasonably, but weren’t a raving success. They weren’t wasted as the leaves were fabulous as salad leaves.

Celery and Celeriac. I had problems getting the seeds, and when I finally did it was really too late to work. I bought young plants late too. The Celery grew reasonably and I was able to use the thin stalks- froze them for using in casseroles.

Tomatoes, Tumbling Tom and Tiny Tim– they got blight, as many growers experienced in 2021. (Both were bought-in plants.)

Never Grown Before…

Outdoor Cucumber, variety Masterpiece. These were a complete unknown, I’ve never grown Cucumbers before, in or out of a greenhouse. I’m a complete convert and will grow them again this year.

I won’t sow them until mid-April, unless we have a good spring, as the lengthy period of overnight frosts last year meant the seedlings were at risk from the minus temperatures in the greenhouse.

It was Steve from Green Side Up, who uses hot-boxes in his polytunnel to protect his tomato plants, that inspired me to try a make-shift small version.

I bought a sturdy translucent plastic box with a secure fitting lid to hold the pots with the cucumber plants in. Compact enough to sit on the top shelf without blocking the front opening door flap, and allowing me to reach inside to remove the lid during the daytime, then closing it back up at night, before adding a layer of fleece over the shelf. It did protect the Cucumber plants from the minus temperatures.

Mini Corn, variety Snobaby. I love mini corn, but I rarely buy it because of the thousands of miles it travels to reach the supermarket. I’m the only one in the family who eats it, so growing my own was a practical solution. If I’d had the free greenhouse space I would have started the seeds in there, but had to sow direct outside instead. They were sown closer together than they should have been, but I still had a good harvest; enough to eat and more to freeze.

The plants definitely benefitted from the addition of a layer of fresh compost and chicken manure pellets when the tassels emerged at the top of the plants.

The final addition was 45 day Broccoletto. I will be growing this again in 2022.

The Rest…

All sown/grown on in the mini greenhouse except for *

All but the radish in this bed, were sown and grown on in the mini greenhouse, then into the cold frame until ready to plant out.

Lettuce: Lollo Rossa, Valmaine, and Mesclun Mix.

Climbing French Beans: Blue Lake, and *Cobra / Dwarf French Beans: Speedy.

Peas/Mange-Tout: Hurst Greenshaft, and Oregon Sugar Pod.

Spring Onions: Pompeii, and Ishikura.

Runner Beans: Hestia (dwarf type for growing in containers).

Radish: French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe*, and Cherry Belle.

Spring Cabbage: Wheelers Imperial. (Durham Early sown in 2020 for 2021 harvest.)

Herbs: Mint, Parsley, Thyme, and Borage, and Chives.

Flowers: Dwarf Stocks, Rudbeckia, Cosmos, Teasel, Sunflower, Pansy, Swedish Marigold, and Nasturtium.

Blue Lake French Beans still growing in mid-October…
Bought in Plants…

Cauliflower: White Excel. (Six plants from B&Q’s veg range.)

Celery: Green Utah.

Celeriac: Giant Prague.

I’m surprised how much I did grow in 2021. Underplanting and placing a few plants in gaps in the raised beds and fabric bags worked well.

The regular supply of salad leaves for nine months of the year was especially pleasing. I need to plan the winter lettuce for 2022.

2022’s layout will be better planned, and I’ll keep a note of weights/quantities.

As long as I can resist nibbling on the Mange-tout and the French Beans before they reach the kitchen…

(There’s more pictures of my 2021 plantings on my Gallery page.)

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