I have been working the plot for 8 years and the weather over the last 3 years has been testing, but I’m still there, so I must be resilient – or mad!
This is what I’ve learnt, let’s start with what didn’t go quite to plan….
OK, I confess: I was seduced by the Harrod Horticultural catalogue and there is nothing wrong with the product but only grow on both sides if you have weed free ground. This year, I’ll run the netting along the middle to make weeding easier.
I’ll also leave more space between the stands to make it easier to manoeuvre with two watering cans.
It would be easy to make something similar and just as robust using bamboo canes.
So what else? Well, the last 3 years in particular have felt like a battle with water and mostly too much of it. I have gravel trays on the rickety looking table made from a pallet, where I harden off and grow on a variety of plants but the trays are solid, so fill up with water. The longest the plants sit in water is a week but there has to be a solution (other than drilling holes in the trays – answers on a post card please.
I have to tell you about my greenhouse; I have taken on a quarter plot that had a 8×6 frame but no glazing. I bought some cheap 4mm polycarb glazing from Ebay (my favourite shop!) clipped it in and off I went BUT at every strong gust of wind, a sheet of polycarb would fly out of the greenhouse. The gales at Christmas and earlier this year have totalled it but my lovely neighbours have rounded up the sheets and secured them behind the compost bins. So now I have a dilemma, do I re-glaze with thicker and heavier (and more expensive) polycarb or give up? I’ve not decided yet.
Enough of the gloom, let’s talk about what has worked well…
I grew peaches last year and it was my proudest plot moment but my family all thought I was bonkers, showing them peaches and asking them to admire the shape, size and fragrance. The peaches also involved one of the funniest plot moments; we have a black labrador called Billy who isn’t really sure what it means to be canine. He loves fresh fruit and veg and is particularly fond of asparagus and raspberries – he has been known to help himself! I shared a peach with him
and at first he was unsure how to tackle it but watched me eat mine. He sat down with the peach between his paws and nibbled the flesh away, leaving the stone clean. I had expected him to scoff the lot – clearly he knows what it means to be a pedigree..
The peach trees are both dwarf varieties and are in pots, so I can move them in and out of the greenhouse. This year they are in the polytunnel and one is already in flower, and I’ve hand pollinated those flowers already opened but it’s a task likely to keep me busy most weekends this month.
And they tasted just as good as they looked, the trick was to leave them on the tree until just the gentlest of turns had the fruit fall into the palm of my hand.