No two years the same – managing the unpredictable

If only we could be guaranteed great harvests like this every year!

As gardeners, we often think we can avoid the mistakes and replicate the successes we had in the previous year, but is it just me or does nature seems to rarely play ball by such logical reasoning?  Every year seems to bring new challenges, new sights, new joys and also a few new disappointments.

Take for instance, growing tomatoes: for two years I happily grew ‘Gardeners Delight’ – that well known and usually reliable variety – both in my polytunnel and outdoors, only for them to get struck down with blight in the third and fourth years – so bad that I had to rip the whole plants up both times. I’ve since swapped to a blight resistant variety, and touch wood, haven’t had any problems since.

Tomato ‘Mountain Magic’ – reliable croppers and more importantly, blight-free!

Similarly, the grapes on my vine all of a sudden developed botrytis (mould) one year and pretty much all rotted off. The next year, thinking I’d learn from it, I stripped off all the leaves away from around the bunches to increase air circulation, only for the vines to develop mildew, which again spread to the grapes making them inedible!

Even growing the simplest of plants, strawberries, has proved temperamental. I remember my first two years on the plot when I had gluts of lush, delicious fruit from my plants. Although, the plants inevitably grew weaker over time, the runners I took and replanted around the plot have never been nearly as productive, even though I’ve prepared the beds with compost and been feeding them through the season. It got to the point this year that the plants would rather die than yield any fruit!

And how about wildlife? Disappointingly, dragon and mayflies don’t seem to be nearly as common a sight on the allotment as they used to be and although I still get slow worms in my compost heap they’re a lot smaller than the ‘serpents’ I remember seeing several years back.  Foxes on the other hand are definitely on the ascendency…  

Strangely perhaps, weeds are another thing I’ve noticed changing. Ten years ago, I was forever pulling up ‘scarlet pimpernel’, yet I hardly see it now. Instead, field bindweed has appeared from nowhere, as has cow parsley, which has gradually marched its way down the plot!

2018: A good year for Purple Toadflax (Linaria purpurea)

I guess what all this teaches us is that nature is predictably unpredictable, with a million different factors influencing what has the upper hand in any given year.  It certainly makes gardening interesting!

Have you noticed changes in your plot over the years?
Tell us more by commenting in the ‘Leave your reply’ box below.

Published by Nick

A plotholder on Craven Vale Allotment since 2010. I'm particularly proud of my expanding vineyard, which in a good year creates litres and litres of red and white wine! I love our site for the fabulous views over the sea and Downs, as well as the wealth of wildlife that can be found here. It really is a bit of countryside in the heart of the city. I feel very lucky to have my plot.

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