Friday, October 23, 2009

Garden Wrap-up 2009

Today's "official" blog post turned out to be a lot less meaty than I'd expected when I started it. Usually I just ramble on and on, but occasionally I run out of things to say on a topic sooner rather than later. Eh, it happens. Anyway, a bit later I got to reflecting on my garden and this seems like as good a time as any to give some thought to what worked and what didn't this year.

Peas - I was really happy with the peas. They were abundant and juicy and we were able to harvest repeatedly so they spread out over a month or more. Main change for next year: plant low plants around them, since they're vine-like and they leave a lot of free space down on the ground. Not too much (we don't want to bind the roots of either plant), but something to put the extra space to work. Also, we might to plant a second (or third) crop to spread out the harvest even more, but peas aren't supposed to like warm weather so I'm not sure that would work too well.

Beets - I was really, really happy with my crop of beets. I'd like to spread them out a bit more, and I might need to plant them earlier as the crop wasn't really ready until September. If I'm planting from seeds and they take that long to grow, I may be able to put them in well before the last frost to get a jump on the growing season. I also need to make sure they stay underground - either by planting them deeper than we did this year or by heaping more dirt on them as they grow. They tended to pop up. Again, staggering planting might help here, too.

Lettuce - other than staggering the crops, I don't know that I'd change much with the lettuce. It came up thick and lush and delicious.

Cabbage - our cabbage was a flop. We got three lowly little heads, and they never closed up tightly like the cabbages you see in the store. I'm not sure what went wrong, but they didn't work.

Yellow squash and zucchini - also a flop. We got one stunted little mutant yellow squash out of all the seeds and live plants we planted. Not sure what went wrong - this was supposed to be really easy. Every single plant floundered and died, and they never looked healthy from the time we put them in the ground. Same dirt as everywhere else, but dead plants.

Pumpkins - also a flop. We got a bunch of big fat yellow flowers, but no pumpkins at all. We had plenty of bees and other bugs flying around so it's hard to imagine they didn't get pollinated. Not sure what went wrong here.

Scallions/Green Onions - grew like crazy in a pot on the deck. We have many many many plastic containers filled with chopped green onions. I don't think I'd change a thing here.

Spinach - we only grew one pot of it, harvested it, ate it, then planted another crop in the same pot. That second crop also grew great, but I'd sort of forgotten about it by then and didn't really eat it. Probably wouldn't change anything with the spinach, it was wonderful.

Tomatoes - we planted two young plants, both from the same pack of plants from the same farm. One grew huge and produced fruit that was blighted with rot 2/3 of the time. The other grew moderately but produced healthy fruit. We then skinned and crushed the fruit because we don't eat tomatoes except in sauce. Not sure we should bother with tomatoes next year - we just don't really need them.

Carrots - took forever to grow and many were stunted because we'd planted them in little cups that were supposed to biodegrade but didn't really. Like the beets, they also tended to pop up out of the ground - we probably either need to plant them deeper or cover them with dirt from time to time. Not sure how to get them to come up sooner - may need to plant earlier?

Onions - also took forever to grow, in fact we haven't picked them yet (and it's starting to get really, really cold and frosty out). These also seem to need an extra dose of dirt during the growing season to keep them from poking out. The ones we've picked so far seemed to have really really fat stalks, but the onion itself wasn't a big fat bulb like you'd expect. Not sure what we'd do differently with them, but I suspect we need to change something to get more substantial onions.

Peppers - my wife didn't really like the tri-color pepper plants I got her, so next year we'll probably go with a straight green bell. Still, the peppers, which we planted in a pot on the deck, shouldn't have been so small and stunted regardless of their color. Something went wrong, not sure what.

Strawberries - we only had basically one plant and it was in a pot. The fruit was tasty but there wasn't much of it. If we're going to do strawberries, we should probably clear a place and do them for real.

Herbs - were a bust. They grew fine, but we failed epically at drying them and had to throw them all out. If we bother with them next year, we need to bring them inside to dry or use a hair dryer on them or something.

All in all, I felt all season that the tremendous effort that went into carving out a garden, planting weeding, watering and harvesting was worthwhile. We enjoyed both the fruits of our labor and, to an extent, the labor itself. It was very satisfying to eat what we'd grown ourselves. With a few changes, I think next year could be even more successful, without the nuisance of having to start from raw turf grass. I have no illusions that we're saving any money by planting a garden, or that we're eating all that much healthier than we otherwise would have (as my boys and even my wife mostly avoided the veggies we grew), but I expect we'll stick with it anyway.


  1. Oh man, the herbs were a bust, oh man, that is the worst. Your herbs. You were busted for your herbs man? Oh man, what a bummer man... man... what are we talking about man?

  2. Heh, nothing that trippy, I'm afraid. More along the lines of basil and oregano. They're not supposed to be that hard, I didn't think, but we failed miserably at preserving them.

  3. Sorry, that was supposed to be "what were we talking about?" -- a joke on temporarily shot short term memory, not an enquiry into the superbness of your herbs.

    But oregeno? Right... :-p