Three growing seasons in Ballyer

2017

Raised bed

We started growing in 2017 with far too much lettuce and leafy greens, along with shallots and garlic. The garden was still a bit of a state but we fashioned a raised bed out of the foundations of an old glasshouse and grew most of our produce in containers.

First crop of mixed oriental salad leaves

Our very first harvest was a selection of container-grown tender mixed leaves.

Feeding timeWe started an ill-fated wormery … we managed to kill off two batches of worms before deciding to give up and spare a third.

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We had a successful early harvest of carrot, beetroot, shallot, kales and parsley.

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And some issues with spacing and bed overcrowding

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Our first shallot harvest was very exciting. But we had issues drying shallots in 2017 and 2018 because of damp in our tumbledown brick-built shed.

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We grew far too much lettuce, more than we could give away. Much of it ended up in the compost bin.

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We grew some beautiful heritage variety carrots.

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And some not so beautiful.

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Then we met our 2017 nemesis: the white cabbage butterfly, who went into an egg-laying frenzy on our leafy greens creating many hungry and highly efficient eating machine caterpillars.

2018

2018 was the year we discovered the immense joy of growing potatoes.

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We also did major work on the garden, getting it into a much more user-friendly shape and putting in a trio of raised beds …

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And a cold frame glass house …

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And then along came 2018’s nemesis: the leaf miner. This time hatched from the egg of a fly.

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This year we grew our first runner beans and peas

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We grew more garlic and shallots.

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And produced some more interestingly shaped carrots.

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We also grew an abundance of tomatoes.

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Some squashes we really didn’t like.

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Some spiny lemon crystal cucumbers (really delicious chilled with a little soy sauce).

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And some broccoli that we left too long before harvesting.

2019

In 2019 it was time to knock down that damp and dangerous old brick shed – and create a new rockery with it.

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In early 2019 the garden reverted to a chaotic space.

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But was soon a green growing haven.

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Strawberries did particularly well in 2019.

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Ditto our courgettes (we cooked ALL the recipes).

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We had a really good garlic harvest too (we’re still eating these ones eight months later).

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We grew our first mange tout and green beans: both really successful.

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And generally had an abundance of food from mid-summer to the end of autumn.

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2019’s nemesis was blossom end rot, and very slow ripening of tomatoes.

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For the first time we overwintered some veg: broad beans, cabbage, onions and garlic. Though kale was the only garden crop available to eat from January.

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We’ll soon be leaving for pastures new.

We’ll pull up the onions and garlic when we’re going. It might still be too early for the cabbage and beans, so they may well be a parting gift to those who take over from us.

We hope they’ll use the glasshouse and the raised beds we leave behind.

Whether they do or don’t, we’ll be busy working on our new garden and growing what we can in the second half of 2020 there.

 

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