Friday, 18 September 2009

Potager update

It would appear that, with all of the ongoing house renovation work, I have been sadly neglecting the potager. Fortunately, it is now the end of the main season so no produce has been spoiled by my lack of attention. It feels like an appropriate time for me to reflect on the successes and failures and what I have learnt from my first attempts at growing my own produce.

Overall, the potager has been a massive success -the variety and the quantity of vegetables that I have grown has way exceeded my expectations. My only real 'failure' has been with the turnips, but that is due entirely to the vole community who were 100% successful in their destruction of the crop. The cabbage white caterpillar has also made a pretty good job of munching their way through my cauliflower, savoy cabbage and white cabbage leaves, but fortunately they are robust plants and seem to be recovering well.

What would I do differently next year? The main thing would be to put in tall supports for the tomato plants before they start falling over! I would also give them more space than I did this year. I would also weigh the produce that I have had from the potager as, although I know we have had masses of tomatoes and French beans, it would be nice to have a record of how many kgs has been produced.
What would I grow next year that I haven't grown this year? Some beefsteak and plum tomatoes.
What has been the biggest surprise this year? The mystery gourd that appeared from nowhere and produced 5 good sized fruit that taste like a cross between pumpkin and butternut squash.

I am already prepared for the autumn and winter, with the autumn carrots developing well, the parsnips ready for harvesting as soon as we get a good frost, the leeks are swelling nicely, the autumn spinach is making good progress, the spring greens likewise and the lambs lettuce is now coming through. I will be planting the onion sets, shallots and garlic before the end of the month. It will soon be time to dig in some horse manure and some compost in order to replenish the soil ready for next year's growth. What a satisfying passtime this potager business is proving to be!

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