harvest


September saw a few of our crops finishing up for the year. We dug up all the rest of the potatoes, and picked our last courgettes & tomatoes. The carrots were ready to get in but I’m going to finish digging them up and storing them this week. Beetroot and parsnips are about finished growing now as well, I’ll also be getting these in before the end of Oct.

Rather than the graph I did last month, I think it will be clearer to just highlight the main harvests as we get them in, I’ll then give a summary of everything towards the end of the year.

Crop

Sowed area m2

Harvested Total (kg)

Harvest (kg) per m2

Potatoes

60

121

2

Courgette

7.5

14.85

3.16

Tomatoes

20

23.7

1.18

Cucumbers

10

29.3

2.93

Sweetcorn 5 3.5 0.7
Pumpkin 10 47 4.7
I was pretty happy with our potatoes this year, although we learnt a good lesson about watering. I would say 75% of our harvest weight came from the bottom 1/3 of each row, which was as far as our hose went when watering. Next year I will plant a similar area but will work on a better irrigation system so that we can maximise the whole row. Cucumber were a great success, it seems all of the Cucurbitaceae (don’t ask how to pronounce it), which includes, courgettes, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers, all did very well in our soil. Next year I will focus on this family, planting more of everything including the melons, which did surprisingly well considering I didn’t treat them very well. We had a good harvest of Tomatoes, certainly my best effort yet. I think in the end we had about 30 plants outside, which gave us 90% of our harvest, and another 20 odd in a poly tunnel, which didn’t do very well at all. From May-end Aug the weather was hot and sunny with very little rain, I think the polytunel became too hot and we weren’t here enough for watering and airing. Next year I am going to try for 200 plants, with most outside, I’ll use the polytunel for peppers and aubergines.

Autumn is here, and winter isn’t far behind.

Autumn View.

Autumn View.

The last couple of weeks we’ve been researching how to store our potatoes, carrots, beetroot and parsnips over winter. In Poland this is a little more tricky than it sounds as the winter temperature can average -10, and some gloomy weather people over here are predicting lows of -30 this winter. Our storage solutions have to stop things rotting as well as freezing.

It seems potatoes can be stored in all sorts of elaborate ways, most revolving around digging holes and burying a heap of potatoes and then covering with straw.  We settled for just digging them up, bagging them into 5kg sacks and then covering in the cellar. It should stay above freezing down there.

Carrots are a bit more tricky. Most people said to layer them in some sort of container, separating the layers with sand. Apparently you have to make sure the carrots don’t touch. I tried this with my first batch of carrots and found it quite tedious arranging them in an old basket. The next batch I’m just going to layer on top of Styrofoam with sand. We’ll have to see what works best.

We also had our first hard frost a couple of weeks ago, which killed off all the courgette and pumpkin plants. We took in all the pumpkins which turned out to be a nice little batch. They are now organised in a very autumnal fashion around the house. Hopefully we will also get to eat them!

Some other things we’ve been up to:

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what we harvest, when we harvest it and how much of it we get. I struggled a bit to find the best way to display it, this is what I ended up with. All numbers are weights in Kilos.

Some highlights are 29kg of cucumbers, which is a large increase from our last attempt in Cornwall of 130g, and tomatoes, so far at 14.8kg with some more still to harvest in the tunnel and outside. I’m also interested to see what our potato total will be, due to dig them all up next week. We have 21kg from our 1st row, with another 10 rows to harvest.

From June to end of August  we have harvested 117kg of veg from a cultivated area of 330 m2.

 

Harvest 2013_2

 

I’ll add an updated graph each month as I get the info, and start summarising the different veg to try and clearly show how much we sowed and how much we harvested (any suggestions on how to do this welcomed!).

 

Just a quick one to say Marta’s Mum went to the land yesterday. Early this morning she managed to harvest 17Kg of cucumbers (the little gherkin type with knobbly bits on them). Compared to my efforts in Cornwall this is quite an improvement, back then I harvested a massive 150g, which was one rather sorry little gherkin.

The batch was from our first planting of gherkins which totals about 25 plants now, after a few casualties. Our last planting of 45 odd are coming on strong as well, I think we will have quite a few gherkins. We will certainly be able to cater for the Polish tradition of pickled gherkin and Vodka, just need someone to bring the vodka (or maybe beer)!

I had a few days at the land last week, just enough time to work through a few little jobs on the allotment. We had a good bit of rain Wednesday, which was much needed and saved me what would have been a considerable amount of time watering.

First a little experiment: When I planted the sweetcorn I decided to compare a method of preparing the beds that I’d read about in John Seymour. He’s quite enthusiastic about a method called ‘Bastard Trenching’ (honestly). It involves digging a series of deep beds (about 12inch deep). The procedure is as follows:

  • Dig a trench across your bed &  put the soil to one side.
  • Fork the bottom so that it is loose then add a load of manure into the bottom of the hole.
  • Dig the next trench to the right of the 1st one. You put the soil from this trench into the first hole; topsoil in the bottom, then the rest, thus filling the first with the soil from the second (I suppose this is where the bastard bit comes from).
  • Continue for however many rows you want.
  • Fill the last row with the soil from the first.

Also refereed to as the ‘Deep Bed Method’ it is apparently a good way to grow heavier yielding crops in a smaller space. The theory is that the roots more easily penetrate the loose, deep soil and thus go down rather than out. You then sow stuff closer together, which has the added advantage of creating dense foliage that connects when the plant is mature creating a canopy over the soil. This helps to keep the moisture on the ground in dry climates. I have definitely benefited from this with our broadbeans. They are very close, with no gaps between foliage. When the other beds are dry this bed is still moist.

I decided to run a little test with the sweetcorn. Half in the deep bed and half on a normally dug section. The results so far are below. The deep bed section definitely looks healthier.

Sweetcorn experiment. The left section was Bastard trenched (deep dug) with manure, the right just dug over.

Sweetcorn experiment: The left section was sown using the ‘deep bed method’ & the right section was sown in to a regular bed.

Below are the pictures from some of the other potterings I did over the few days:

Ctonka (Potato Beetles), something new to me, you have to pick them all of otherwise they lay eggs and destroy the plants. See next photo.

Stonka; Pronounced Stonka (Potato Beetles), something new to me, you have to pick them all off otherwise they lay eggs and destroy the plants. See next photo.

Ctonka hatched and eating my potatoes! Spent a good few hrs picking these.

Stonka hatched and eating my potatoes! Spent a good few hrs picking these.

Tied up outside Tomatoes.

Tied up outside Tomatoes. These are the ones that suffered early on. Looking OK now.

Tied up and picked suckers off tomatoes.

Tied up and picked suckers off tomatoes in Poly-tunnel.

Basil planted outside amongst the tomatoes. No slugs here something that made this impossible in Cornwall.

Basil planted outside amongst the tomatoes. No slugs here something that made this impossible in Cornwall.

First Tomato

First Tomato

Re-potted strawberries from shoots.

Re-potted strawberries from shoots. Using pots means once the shoot is established you can cut the cord and plant where you like.

Planted out asparagus.

Planted out asparagus. Dug 12 inch deep trench with manure in bottom.

Asparagus in. Just 2 yrs to wait now!

Asparagus in. Just 2 yrs to wait now!

Tied them up ready for training.

Took down broken Mk 1.0 Poly-tunnel & tied up grape vines  ready for training.

We have a few pumpkins like this on the go. They are giant varieties.

We have a few pumpkins like this on the go. They are giant varieties.

Not sure what this is, I can't remember sowing it.

Not sure what this is, I can’t remember sowing it.

Can't remember what this is either. Looks cool though.

Can’t remember what this is either. Looks cool though.

Spring planted broadbeans pronounced boob in Polish (insert your own joke).

Spring planted broadbeans pronounced boob in Polish (insert your own joke).
First small harvest of peas and broad beans.

First small harvest of peas and broad beans. Very tasty! Should have a load by the end of the week.

We have a good supply of radish and cucumber now.

We have a good supply of radish and cucumber now. Makes for a nice Polish breakfast.

Panoramic of the allotment mid June.

We’ve been having trouble with our new, old car, so haven’t been able to get to the land much over the last couple of weeks. This coupled with very dry and hot weather meant that I was a little worried I might find the allotment looking a little withered and sorry for itself. We haven’t had any rain for 4 weeks now and the temperature has been around 30C for a while with no foercast of rain despite a few villagers predicted some soon. We’ve missed the band of storms which have spread through the south of Poland, which I’m glad about, I drove through one on the way to Warsaw and experianced hail stones big enough to make me think my windscreen was going to brake. The wind in these parts had also caused a lot of the crops to collapse, hopefully they will recover. We need rain, but I’d rather not a storm like this if possible.

Anyway the plants are doing ok and we had our first decent harvest of small cucumbers (Ogorki) and yellow courgettes. The ogorgki plants are producing loads, I think we should have plenty for eating fresh during the summer and for pickling.

So I’ve been working on my scything over the last week with three more mowing sessions. I found some videos on youtube about how to peen (bang the blade with a hammer), which I put into practice. Marta’s Dad also gave me an old sharpening stone holding, which had an old sharpening stone inside. This proved to be much better than the one I had, and I think my blade is now sharpish. I also found a scythe handle in a slightly different style which allowed me to mow with a better posture.

Neater Rows

Neater Rows

To go some way in answering Eddy at Winkos, who mentioned how long it would take to cut his meadows using this method, I worked out over the few sessions I’ve done that I’m averaging 150m2 per hour.  I normally do from 4:30am till 8ish. I reckon we have about 10,000 m2 of meadow, which would take around 67hrs at my current pace. Or 8 days worth of 2 four hour sessions.

I am finding the mowing easier as my technique improves. We found out our neighbour used to mow his wheat fields using the scythe back in the day. I’m hoping to pick his brains a bit about technique, sharpening and setting the blade etc with the aim of getting my mowing to 200m2 per hour.

I also managed to have a go at actually doing something with the grass. I made a hay rack, according to what I remember seeing in a youtube video, in my style I made a rustic version. It is the alpha version, I think a few more pegs are needed for the final design, but I’m happy with it as a first attempt.

Next Page »