I am certainly learning the hard way how to grow my own veg. One thing I am learning is to be regular in keeping my allotment going. I am learning through not doing it! In fact I have been very regular until about mid July. I sort of let it go and stopped going 3 to 5 times a week to my allotment.
The results was that slugs came back and forth. And that I lost crucial crops, mainly to slugs but it seems some rats or/and mice have been around as well. I think regular presence was kind of bothering them although not stopping them completely, but today I found out there were a lot of galleries dug during my absence. I sort of gave up going frequently in the evening after dinner time. My IT background is to blame. What happen is that I re-discovered programming, so instead of going for a walk to my allotment I preferred learning some programming stuff like python deep learning, C++ and OpenGL. Things that you may find very boring but on which I can spend many hours.
So I let my allotment down. And I am not really proud of it but I also don’t feel too much guilty.
I am about to evaluate how much work I have done and what is the output, as I am keeping harvest numbers and try to keep expenses like the allotment cost, seeds, compost bags, beer for slug traps, etc…
Next year I will know that I might have a “down time” and I will need to recognise it quickly.
So after coming back from holiday, going back in my allotment, I have to say that I had some moment where I thought that all these efforts were in vain and that I am not really a person able to grow my own food. Then I had to remind me some choices I made that I know were risky:
Doing a mulch on a compacted soil in a region where slugs are in big numbers.
In autumn last year I let cardboards uncover until nearly end of the winter. The cardboard were dried and allowed mice to build very nice galleries underneath!
I also know that I worked essentially on building structures rather than on growing the plant themselves.
And that I am good at seedling but often not prepared for re-potting or transplanting on time. I lost nice crops because of keeping them too long in small pots or in greenhouse.
One bog frustration I have is about courgettes… I seem to be the only one person on this planet not able to grow courgettes!
I blamed the slugs but I knew again the risk and I could have protect the plant better. Also I have let them growing too much in pots in the greenhouse or outside. In fact I spent too much time planning my lines of multi crops and I neglected the plants themselves.
But still coming back from holiday I expected to have some success as they were some nice flowers before I left, but all the plants had been destroyed. On top of that during my holidays my friend who was supposed to come and water the tomatoes in the greenhouse had been kick out of his accommodation and had to leave the village. I only learnt about it about a week after I went on holiday exactly when the weather had been probably at its warmest in North East of England. Hopefully a good friend was able to go quickly and stop the plants drying fast. But the plants had been weaken a lot. So when I went back in my allotment the greenhouse did not look good, my main crop looked poor apart from the runner beans and the massive bush of borage that was beaming with all sort of insects and bees. That cheered me up a bit and let me think that at least I was helping biodiversity and the natural local ecosystem. But still I was thinking to give up indeed thinking that gardening is not a job for me. Until… under a borage, I spotted something. I could not believe my eyes! There at the foot of a runner bean, a beautiful quite big courgette!
The courgette of Hope!
So now I am signing up for another year! And I decided it that I should not give up on growing my own food in the permaculture way. It’s worth it, maybe not yet in term of gross value of the food produced although I may be surprised once I write my reports on the two years of working this allotment. But that will be another story.