Well what a year it has been. Officially the wettest ever in the UK! However, even though I am relatively new to this gardening lark I have a sneaky feeling that it would not matter what the year brought, gardeners are a fickle breed and there will always be something to complain about…..too dry, too wet, wrong kind of sunshine etc etc.
As regards my own experience, this is how I would sum it up…..
The low points
- Most recent has to be Christmas dinner. Brussel sprout seeds were planted on 24 February and the plants produced barely enough for me, Mr Mac and little sis for our Christmas dinner. As for the parsnips, the seeds never even germinated due to the rain.
- The crazy weather in the spring resulted in me losing all my tomato plants and set me back 7 weeks.
- Okra was something new I decided to try this year, along with aubergines. It was too cold for the okra and although the aubergine plants did eventually produce two fruits, it was not until October and the cold killed them before they had the chance to mature.
- Other than the Earlies grown in tubs in the greenhouse, the potatoes were a total disaster – if the slugs did not get them, the blight did!
- The early frost got the blossom and so there were virtually no plums, pears or apples. Only one apple crumble has been made and NO cider at all!
- Losing all the tulips in one night. This was particularly upsetting as we had planted up loads of pots and protected them all winter. Then one night, just as they were all about to flower, something came along and ate them. The jury is still out on whether it was the deer, pigeons, pheasants or squirrels.
- Slugs – they just ate everything.
- I am going to be predictable here….the weather! It was just pants.
The high points
- Some of the flowers were exceptional this year, especially the acquilegia, echinacea, alliums, lillies and sunflowers.
- Growing things in pots – early peas, carrots, butternut squash, spring onions and sunflowers.
- The start of the hard landscaping at the bottom of the garden and the beautiful new paths Mr Mac started to build.
- The greenhouse made from a conservatory rescued from a skip in Edinburgh.
- Mr Mac’s portable fruit cage (although the netting needs some fine tuning!).
- Having tried for 3 years, finally getting a bumper crop of chillies.
- It was a brilliant year for soft fruits which obviously loved the rain.
- Free seeds courtesy of Amateur Gardening magazine. I grew things I would not have thought of growing before…so thank you AG!
- Starting my Blog….and thank you for reading and keeping me company!
Ten Lessons learned
- Label, label, label! Even though when you plant something in the ground it is obvious where it is (and what it is) YOU WON’T REMEMBER! Stick a label in the ground.
- Don’t be in a hurry to get all seeds sown as early as you can. Seeds sown later will catch up and there is less risk of losing them to frost.
- Keep a note of what is annual, perennial, bi-annual etc. To my cost I discovered I had pulled out a whole load of plants I thought were annuals when they finished flowering and it turns out they were perennials…oops!
- A lesson learned from 2011 was to put lots of drainage in the bottom of tomatoes. I filled my specially made troughs with lots of stones but now we can’t move the troughs to get rid of the spent soil as they are too heavy. All the soil will have to be scooped out by hand!
- Take out subscriptions to gardening magazines. Look out for deals like 5 issues for £5 (to see you over the summer) or my best find was half price Amateur Gardening magazine with free seeds every week from March to September.
- Bubble wrap is excellent to stop pots cracking from frost.
- Use Freecycle to get rid of plants or gardening items you no longer want or to acquire things you need.
- There is no point being a control freak and fighting mother nature…you will only lose!
- Don’t be lazy. If it is dry and you have weeds to hoe or plants to get in the ground DO IT NOW. You don’t know when you will get another chance.
- Plant little and often. I am constantly tormented by the thought that nothing will germinate and then it will be too late to start again. I end up with gluts of everything that have to be used within a short period of time. There are only so many vegetables you can force upon your neighbours!
For 2013 I am creating a sister blog….ayearinmygarden2013…where I plan to photograph the garden transforming over the year. I’ll still be here though and hope you will join me for another gardening year.
For now though I would like to wish you all a very happy, dry, sunny new year!