Friday, October 9, 2015

2015 Garden Report Card

Butternut squash ripening in the kitchen window

This post is probably more for myself than anyone else. I mean, really, does anybody care how the garden did besides us?

I had big plans for this first year of the garden. Mostly, I wanted to succeed with the main storage crops-potatoes, carrots, winter squash, and onions, with the one stated goal of growing enough onions to be onion independant. By that, I mean to not need to buy onions until next years harvest.  I didnt make that goal.
All the goals were lofty, starting from scratch here, creating new garden space from untested soil,  in our first months here at the homestead, and experiencing a record breaking winter and late spring.
Not only that, but for the first time, I was starting everything from seed, something I had never done.
A basket of goodness
Overall, I think the garden was a success.  Not everything grew as hoped- there were pest problems, disease problems , and just growth problems. I learned ALOT.    Some things totally surprised me with their abundant harvest -the chile peppers were crazy productive, as were the paste tomatoes.   Romaine lettuce was fantastic. Some crops were sort of, bleh.  Broccoli never made big heads, but did produce small side shoots all summer. Cilantro struggled to grow, then bolted to seed, same with spinach except the first planting.. onions were a mixed bag....beets just failed entirely. Corn got eaten by critters, winter squash was devasted by blight and vine borers. Potatoes were also a big loss.
Tossing out a couple packages of seed produced a lovely, simple flower garden near our porch.

Cant complain about the tomatoes. I am estimating over 200 pounds of them,  no kidding
I wont bore you with all my notes.  But the main successes were greens (kale, lettuce, spinach) tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, green beans, basil, and carrots.
The main disappointments and/or failures  were the storage crops-potatoes, winter squash, onions, corn.  That really is a disappointment.

However, it is a reality  that not everything is going to grow.  Critters, insects, plant diseases.... these are constant threats, and sometimes they win.   And failures are often the best learning experiences.   I will do some things differently next year.

The main garden in August
Almost everyone who comes over seems impressed by the garden.  I see its flaws.  Mostly, really, I am grateful for the abundance it produced, I really am.
It has been a full time job.  Its no joke really trying to grow your own food. I am tired and ready for a winter break.
If the greenhouse gets built before spring, I can stretch the seasons even further .   For now, most of the garden is put to bed for the winter.  We still have abundant kale, carrots, celery, cabbage, and the fall plantings of new lettuce, spinach, turnips, and  beets that have promise of harvest before everything freezes.  That might be very soon.
Next year?  More corn, less cabbages,and choose a later maturing variety,  a different heirloom slicing tomato, stick with one variety of paste tomato, more winter squash, more onions, more sweet peppers and more green chiles, and try to succession plant the lettuce better... have important crops in at least two places, in case of things like deer or turkey again. More beans, and more peas.

Now where am I going to put all the"more" stuff?

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