February 2018 I: review of 2017/18 winter crops…

At the beginning of February 2018, the majority of the winter harvests are out of the ground. Still remaining are two of five Cavalo Nero kale plants, four over-wintered chard plants and two bags of Berlicum carrots.

The crops sown for planting in winter were:

1) Parsnips – a reasonable crop of smaller roots than previous years.

Two possible reasons: proximity to roots of large trees in neighbours’ garden (new neighbours have cut the trees down); and initial crowding by radish sown in the row, rather than between rows, which may have inhibited growth (in future, any radishes sown will be between rows).

2) Autumn King Carrots – seeds on a tape. An impressive harvest which started to show mild root fly damage by the final harvest in early February. The balance is between how well harvested roots store vs fly damage in the ground.  The compromise may be initial harvest of smaller roots, then storage just of large ones.

3) Cavalo Nero Kale: a good first crop allowing harvesting from late October and likely to finish in early to mid March. The crop grows fine in shaded areas and is a prime candidate for those spots where other plants do less well.

4) Over-wintered chard: 4 large plants grew well in semi shaded spot with plenty of harvest in late autumn and some through winter. Likely to crop until early May.

5) Musselburgh leeks: a complete failure due to allium leaf miner attack in October. This has happened two years running so sadly, leeks must be sacrificed as a winter crop from now on.

6) Spanish Round Radish (seeds from Real Seeds Ltd) – this new discovery gave an excellent harvest from late November to the end of January and can in effect be a winter turnip replacement.

7) Perennial Spinach/Tree Cabbage: this crop was established during 2017 but was not harvested this winter to allow the plants to become well established. The image at the top of the article shows the plants.

8) Mulatka Beetroot: the roots remain in the ground and will be utilised in soups in February and early March, along with Berlicum carrots. These were sown early May 2017 and placed in semi shade next to runner beans. The 28 roots are a reasonable size.

9) Berlicum Carrots in bags: these were sown as an experimental late crop on June 30th and have grown superbly. They are ready for harvesting and a detailed article will follow when I harvest the first bag this month.

10) Lamb’s lettuce. For some reason two separate sowings in late August/early September failed to germinate.

Obviously, onions and potatoes have also been eaten during winter….

So overall, attempts to create a reasonable winter harvest are improving, although a replacement for leeks is sought. 

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *