LOOKING FORWARD TO 2015
Last week we had a look back over the 2014 gardening year reviewing the successes and failures. Armed with this knowledge we can now plan our gardening calendar for 2015 in the hope that our unpredictable weather doesn’t have too many shocks in store for us. Looking at weather trends to try and assess what could be ahead for 2015, the only half reliable factor appears to be that every year is different from the previous year. So if last winter was very mild, following the devastating December gales, this winter is likely to be colder with snow and severe frost. Last year we got a long cool spring so maybe this spring will be short but warm, then summer will be the Scottish normal (you don’t need me to remind you that means three consecutive dry sunny days and up to five in an exceptional summer) since last year it was excellent. Since August last year was cold and wet it just has to be a total heatwave this year so I will not be on holiday abroad as I don’t want to miss it. Anyway time will be needed on the allotment for watering the crops in this dry spell. Autumn 2014 lacked warmth and sunshine resulting in a poor harvest of grapes and apples,
Now we’ve got the weather sorted out what does this mean for our plans for the garden.
We will still persevere with peaches, pears, cherries and apples in the hope that the bees will return on time in spring to pollinate the flowers which are bound to be numerous as there was no heavy crop last year to weaken the trees.
Clubroot was a major problem last year as the soil was too wet too often so this year I will be concentrating on resistant varieties of cabbage (Kilaton) cauliflower (Clapton) sprouts (Crispus) and Swedes (Gowrie, Invitation or Marian)
I will continue with my outdoor grape experiments, but will have to find a warm spot free from phytophthora root rot. The variety Phoenix seems to have survived, produced several small bunches and put on ample growth, even though it is on land known to have had root rot.
This year should give me my first decent crop of Big Ben blackcurrants when I can judge their size and increased sweetness for the fresh fruit market rather than just for jam, compote and wine.
New raspberry plants of Autumn Treasure and Polka should fruit this year so I can see if they really are so much better than Autumn Bliss.
A new planting of Bramble Reuben will extend my bramble picking season into autumn as my six year old bramble Helen fruits in August.
Green manure experiments have favoured clover as the superior crop. It does not grow as tall as mustard, but more vigorous than tares, so I will use it at every opportunity in 2015.
I will again plant tomatoes direct into border soil in my new greenhouse, after adding fresh compost and fertiliser, as I feel it should be good for two years before I go back to growbags.
New landscape works are planned after the removal of three huge conifers and a massive eucalyptus which has been threatening to drop branches on my new greenhouse, as it reaches into the sky and spreads wider. This will be permanent planting to maintain an attractive area but be easy to maintain. More on this later after I peruse the plant brochures and select a few special plants.
Most of the branches will be chipped on site and added and mixed into my compost heap.
Some chippings will be used to surface my paths on the allotment. This should last a couple of years before it rots down and needs replacing.
Painting plans for 2015
The short gardening days in winter allows me more time at the easel to concentrate on my latest art project. This will be a series of about twenty paintings in oil and acrylic showing ladies in white sun hats, sarongs and other holiday fashions enjoying our Scottish beaches including Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, the Coral Beach and Talisker Beach in Skye. Other beaches include Otters Wick Bay and Cata Sands in Orkney, Silver Sands of Morar and of course Broughty Ferry Beach in Dundee.