As the winter chills sets in and the seed catalogues continue to drop through the letter box, now is the time to reflect on the Winners and Losers of the Allotment Year before placing orders for next season’s harvest.
Top of my list of Winners are:Runner Beans - the seeds can be planted straight into the ground making them very easy to grow and they always produce masses of beans. We were still picking up until the end of October. My husband’s favourite!
Salad Leaves – I always start them off in the greenhouse otherwise the slugs never let them see the light of day but other than that they are quite easy and produce masses of leaves. The trick is to always have some seeds on the go for succession planting – something I’m still perfecting the art of! Hoping my winter lettuces might produce something before Christmas.
Raspberries – Produced an abundance of berries this year and so tasty too. But you have to eat them the same day you pick or they go mouldy. No keeping qualities at all. Another easy crop as you only have to cut them down once a year, although birds are a big problem.
French beans – another prolific producer and easy too but not as sweet as runners.
Courgettes – another prolific plant. Great to freeze in ratatouille.Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb and yet more rhubarb! They didn’t like the lack of rain at the start of the spring and went all limp and floppy but soon picked up once the rain came.
Blackberries – big juicy thornless variety, easy to grow and produces masses of fruit.Dahlias – I adore these flowers. They are such good do-ers producing a riot of colour from August right though to the end of November. You can leave them in the ground too in the south if you cover them over with some manure or leaves.
Apples - as many as I want from my neighbour's tree. That's what is so great about allotments it's share and share alike!
Top of my list of LosersTomatoes – tomato blight seems to be rampant on our site so I’m finally going to give up on these.
Round Yellow Cucumbers – I spotted these at Chelsea Flower Show this year and thought they would be something different, but the skin is so tough you need to peel them first. Life’s too short! Next year I'm going to grow more of the coventional variety.
Red gooseberries – despite the fact that we now have them in a cage, we still only get about three or four berries off three plants. I always thought it was the fault of the birds or mice, but the cage is now like fort knox!Strawberries – didn’t get a single berry, but the birds are definitely the culprit. Need to cover with a net next year.
Blueberries – again not a single berry!Sunflowers – planted 10 among the raspberry canes, mistakenly thinking I had the 10 foot varieties and they would soon tower over the fruit. But mixed up the packets and had the miniature versions so they died through lack of sun!
Carrots – the soil is just too heavy and too much faff to grow in containers, especially when they are such good value in the supermarkets.
So all in all a good year and a lot more Winners than Losers. Roll on next season, can't wait to get planting!