GIY Weekly Column December 23rd 2017

Mick reflects on his growing year and his growing successes and failures...

I used to dread school reports when I was a child.  Pretty much every report I ever got had the immortal words “Could Do Better” scrawled on it somewhere. It’s such a loaded phrase isn’t it?  In just three words it manages to convey a complex mix of mild satisfaction, irritation, disappointment and anticipation.  I always resented the patronizing tone of teacher’s comments, and how they’d always end with ‘Happy Christmas’ after sticking the boot in..!  So, I suppose this is an exercise in self-flagellation if ever there was one but here’s my report for this year’s GIYing:

Aubergines – F, Great plants, no fruit.  Say no more.  Must do better.

Bean, Broad – B. An early crop in the polytunnel did well and a later crop outside meant they were abundant for months on end.  He still can’t seem to work out if he actually likes to eat them.

Bean, French – A.  Halved the number he grew last year to reduce the glut, but was still overwhelmed. Bag loads in the freezer. Amazing crop.

Beetroot – A.  Remains his fave veg to grow.  Was a little lazy when it came to harvesting the late season crop which is still in the ground and struggling against the frosts.

Broccoli, Calabrese – F. Didn’t get around to planting any...must try harder.

Brussels Spouts – F.  Slugs had a good go at the transplants and then caterpillars killed the plants off.  He’ll be buying sprouts this Christmas.  A shambles.

Carrots – B.  Good year for carrots, but didn’t grow enough of them and has run out already.  That’s just not good enough.  A little planning would go a long way.

Celeriac – A.  Still has them in the ground, and got really decent sized celeriac.  Great effort. A fantastic crop.

Celery – B.  Still has celery in the ground in the garden.  Lots in the freezer.  Solid effort.

ChilliPeppers – A.  Seemed to thrive this year.  Dare I say, he’s cracked it?

Courgette – B+.  Prolific as always.  Made a promise to himself to not let them grow any longer than pencil length before harvesting.  Did not keep that promise. 

Cucumber – A.  Brilliant year.  Had way too many, but made some great chutneys and pickles. 

Garlic – C. Considering how much he waffles on about garlic, his were underwhelming this year. Could do better.

Kale – B+.  Great crop of Cavalo Nero.  Playing a blinder in winter garden.

Kohlrabi – F.  Started off well but didn’t stick to succession sowing regime. Slugs had a field day.  Desultory.

Leeks – B.  Has a great crop of about 30 leeks in the ground still.  Sturdy performance.

Onions – C.  Decent onions but, as with the carrots, just not enough of them.

Parsnip – B.  Solid performer.  Still has a good thirty of them in the ground.

Potatoes – C. Got blight on everything but the blight-resistant Sarpo Mira and wireworm was a significant problem.  Much cursing in the kitchen when peeling was the result.

Pumpkin/Squash – C.  A little late planting them and this resulted in a poor return – only harvested about 10 in total.

Salad Leaves – C.  Good year with oriental greens and lettuce but didn’t sow any in August and September which made the season short. 

Spinach – B.  Annual spinach remains a big pain, tending to bolt at the earliest opportunity.  Perpetual spinach is a safer bet, if not quite as tasty.  Still churning out leaves.

Sweetcorn – C.  Grew them in the tunnel and they did brilliantly but timed holidays badly and they had gone over by the time he got back.  Unforgivable.

Tomatoes – A. Great year.  80 fine plants in the tunnel gave delicious toms from July to November, and a freezer full of sauces.  Fine work.

Comment: Michael remains committed and enthusiastic, if a little sloppy and lazy at times. Though troubled by pests and inclement conditions, he soldiered on and is showing progress.  Output was a little lower than we hoped. We have high hopes for him for next year.

If you'd like to up your growing grades in 2018 join me on a Beginners Guide to Growing class in GROW HQ  this spring!