A few lessons learned in 2021

Although overall we were really pleased with how our little garden grew for us last year, but this post is focused on some of our learnings from the 2021 growing season. We’ll come on to celebrate some of our favourite bits in a future post.

Our first one relates to peppers. Although we’ve just about come to terms with how long peppers take to grow now – absolutely ages in case you’d missed it – it doesn’t make the loss of one of the slow growing fruits any easier.

We grew D’Asti Giallo yellow bell peppers again last year, and everything was growing to plan. This pepper plant had been sown in mid-January 2021, and we had some lovely bell peppers coming along just waiting to finish growing and ripen to their lovely yellow colour.

However much to my surprise one morning in September, one of our peppers had completely deflated and detached itself from its stalk. I couldn’t believe it! I’m sure it didn’t actually happen overnight, I’m sure some little beastie had got into it somewhere round the back out of sight and it had gradually been disintegrating, but it was still disappointing to find a deflated pepper hanging off the edge of the pot that morning.

Luckily, we had two more peppers that grew on to maturity. They didn’t turn yellow before the weather got too cold, but we enjoyed them as green peppers in any event.

Our other big surprises last year related to our tomatoes. As always, we grew far too many different varieties, but we really enjoyed seeing them all grow, form fruits and then ripen. After this, we rather enjoyed eating them all too – raw or cooked! We even froze some that were going spare which we’re now enjoying in soups and sauces throughout the winter.

Last year, we learned that slugs and snails are rather partial to ripening tomatoes. In fact, a common garden snail can literally decimate a salad sized tomato overnight. The below photos show one of (unfortunately many) tomatoes we lost to slugs and snails in 2021. The most frustrating thing was that they never finished one tomato before they started on the next! And like birds with fruit, they always get there just before you consider its fully ripened, and so just before you’re about to pick them.

It wasn’t just our slimy garden fiends that were after a bit of our tomatoes though. It turns out that stag beetles rather like them too. This was another little pest that I found in one of the tomatoes one morning. It’s not clear whether the beetle made this hole, or whether it was an opportunistic beetle that came in after a snail had started the job. However, the type of hole seemed different to us, so we think there is a possibility that it was the stag beetle! I suppose we’ll never know unless we catch one red-handed next year!

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