2017 was the first year I gardened no-dig with good compost. As a result,some crop yields improved spectacularly, meaning a glut of over-production occurred. Equally some crops are proving difficult for reasons I am not clear about.
1) Radish yields in good compost were spectacular, suggesting one 1.5m row sown each two weeks from the spring equinox to the end of April is more than sufficient for a family.
2) Carrot yields have also risen hugely, both in the soil and in bags. Indeed, four 18 litre polypot bags would last all winter on the yields achieved in 2017. Yields of carrots sown in early May were higher than sown in early April.
3) Maincrop potatoes mulched with plenty of cut comfrey yielded very well, perhaps due to plenty of rain from mid July to mid September. Early crops were very poor in the arid spring. Pot-grown first earlies yielded very well.
4) Successful late sowings were:
i) Pick and Come Again lettuce sown early June and harvested August and September;
ii) Cavalo Nero Kale sown early June, harvesting from October onwards;
iii) Leaf Chicory, sown early July and harvested from mid October;
iv) Florence Fennel, sown late June and harvested late October and November;
v)Winter radish, sown early August to be harvested through winter
Spinach, chard, rocket and cabbage have established successfully for spring harvest, however Augusta Onions did not.
Ongoing challenges remain with:
i) Autumn turnips – plants which established yielded roots, however pest damage is still too high;
ii) Winter cabbage suffering from leaf damage and only small hearts, barely worth five months in the ground;
iii) Pak Choi continues to be eaten within 3 weeks of transplantation.
iv) Allium leaf miner continues to devastate winter leek stands, such that only growing early crops is now the reluctant conclusion.
As a result, the following changes are envisaged in 2018:
1) 75% reduction in rows of carrots sown, expanding onions instead;
2) Growing Red Kuri squash instead of Musselburgh leeks;
3) Reducing beetroot sowing by 33%;
4) Adding three brussels sprouts plants in the sunniest location;
5) Attempting Borlotti beans for the first time;
6) Replacing leaf chicory with chicory hearts.
I will expand the growth of roots in bags/35 liter pots to include parsnips as well as carrots.
2017 was a big step forward.
2018 will tell me whether this was by luck or by design….