Forward planning for bumper crops

Stuffed marrow.
Stuffed marrow.
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It’s been a reasonable year weather-wise for vegetable-growing thus far.

Most types sown or planted onto fertile soil have done quite well given the degree of warmth and moisture around.

Surplus of marrows.

Surplus of marrows.

As the remainder of summer crops are harvested and stored, my thoughts turn to fresh pickings over the next six months.

We began this year with a determination to have the vegetable beds well prepared for the needs of various crops and a resolve to keep ahead of the game in sowing and planting everything on time.

Land where onions, leeks, peas, beans, potatoes and courgettes would grow, received a generous helping of mature organic manure in winter. Then, prior to spring planting, a top dressing of blood, fish and bone was forked lightly into the soil.

A final ingredient came by chance in the form of decent growing weather.

Sweetcorn, peas, beans, onion sets and shallots were all started in small pots under glass in the cold greenhouse while frost still persisted outdoors.

As each batch of plants transferred from greenhouse to open garden, they had a head start with good root systems and sturdy top growth.

No wonder they were straight into their stride and grew so well.

Sweetcorn was the biggest success, with plump cobs ready for the kitchen in early August. And even when a few shallots started bolting (developing premature flowering stems) in the heat of July, they had already made enough growth for storage.

So we eased the clusters up with a fork and left them to dry off on the surface.

Recent failure to keep abreast of courgette production has led to surplus monsters. Stuffed marrow anyone?

But gauging success at a personal level is only part of the story.

To gain a true perspective of how well vegetable crops have grown generally in this area, it requires discussion with other growers and visits to gardens.

I am fortunate in receiving lots of gardening questions and given information about other people’s plant performances.

This helps keep me up to date. Other favourite spots for information being Roots & Shoots at The Alnwick Garden and local flower shows.