Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Shady Harvest

Shady spots are difficult to grow food in, and the problem isn’t made easier when cultivating in pots. The crops recommended for lesser amounts of sunshine are often not suitable for containers. I’ve realised those which are don’t necessarily produce enough to make growing them worthwhile e.g. rocket. I love the stuff, but still had to visit the greengrocers to get my salad’s worth. Must get into the habit of repeat sowing, which might help matters.

The biggest success turned out to be the ‘Whippersnapper’ tomatoes which were sown as an after-thought. They were very productive – I picked 242 fruit before I stopped counting. And with every 10 tomatoes weighing in at approximately 100g, that’s over 2.5kg of harvest. Not bad for a plant that prefers sun. Plenty to eat and save seed from (an important consideration as these are from the Heritage Seed Library). There was even some spare for the wildlife – one day I noticed a squirrel munching on a tomato for breakfast! (see rushed and blurry picture below.) Thankfully, I don’t think the shadow-tail developed a taste for them because no further tomatoes were snaffled.

sharp squirrel

Squirrel nibbling a tomato

I had reasonable success with golden mange-tout. The golden chard, however, proved quite sulky. A similar attitude was demonstrated by the CCA kale that I transplanted to grow on to maturity. I suspect I was a bit remiss about feeding my crops after high summer. Plants in tubs cannot access nutrients in the same way as from the earth, which is a living ecosystem. In a pot, nutrients are quickly depleted, and so feeding container crops is more imperative. In the ground, it’s more a case of “feed the soil, not the plant.” Legumes, such as my mange-tout, fix their own nitrogen using nodules on their roots, and so can feed themselves.

A major disappointment was my chives. They had been doing well until they got afflicted with blackfly. Nobody ever warns that this type of aphid has a liking for chives – it’s always broad beans that are mentioned! I tried the squishing method of control, but this wasn’t particularly effective as it’s difficult to get right into the base of the leaves, where the blackfly can then recolonise from. I decided to try companion planting with Nemophila to disguise the chives, but the companion overwhelmed its mate, and the chives became really spindly.  I have to choose camouflage  that doesn’t sprawl so much..

As for midsummer sowing.. I wasn’t organised enough to do this. It seems my enthusiasm is very much a spring motivation. And as the sun gets lower in the sky towards the end of the year, I decided yesterday I wouldn’t pursue the idea of winter crops as I reckon my shady plot would suffer even less sunlight. It’s something I will observe over the next few months. In the meantime, I’ll start dreaming and scheming for 2015.

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