So the end of August is upon us, and with it comes the smell of fall in the air. As with every other year I have raised a garden, I have learned a lot. One of the best lessons from this year was that prepared soil makes all the difference. I planted dozens of different items, but only about half of them did much thanks to the crappy soil. I figure with the end of the growing season upon us, I should go through and make some notes for myself and anyone else who is interested.
Potatoes – I planted 5 pounds and got 27 pounds in return. Not too shabby. Next year I’ll try larger varieties because these tiny ones were a pain in the ass to process. I will plant more next year. We are already halfway through them.
Radishes – I planted these between the onions, and they grew really well. Unfortunately, we aren’t big fans of radishes. The chickens got most of them – they seemed to enjoy it.
Onions – First year starting from seed. Next time I will only do 5-6 per cell and start them earlier. They are finally bulbing up, but I expect to only have 1-3″ diameter bulbs. The whites did a lot better than the reds, despite similar conditions. They aren’t yet soft in the neck, so I’ll let them keep growing until they’re done or it frosts. I should have a couple hundred.
Eggplants – Tried and true Ping Tung gave me about a dozen fruits for the four plants I put in. There are still several forming. The Casper gave me five total fruits, all of which were malformed/diseased. Not a big fan – won’t plant those again.
Cabbage – I planted four different kinds. They have all done especially well. The heads are rounding out and should be ready to be picked in the next few days. I plan on making slaw and kraut, and hanging some long-storing ones in the basement for winter use.
Beets – Only a few seeds took. Those few sprouted magnificent greens and puny roots. Pretty sure it was the poor soil and uneven watering that caused this.
Carrots – Same as the beets. First time I’ve never had any carrots to show. How embarrassing!
Cucumbers – The plants all came up, then flowered at only 6″ high. They are flowering like crazy, but not fruiting. The flowers are falling off, although we have lots of pollinators flying around.
Beans – Despite the rough start thanks to the local deer population, they came back. But they were weak. Put out a few thin little beans that I will try to dry to save seeds, but nothing like I had hoped.
Peas – Only grew to about 6″ high and put out a few scrawny peas. From beets to peas were all planted in the very back section of the garden. I’m pretty sure that’s where the soil was the worst. Nothing did well back there.
Watermelons – They put out vines a couple feet long, but were planted too late to set fruit. They are just now flowering, so I’m fairly sure we won’t see any fruit before a frost. Next year, we’ll plant earlier.
Corn – Row plantings grew a couple feet high. Have yet to tassle. Three sisters plantings are around 4′ tall and more robust. There’s something to that. They were planted over a month later than they should have been, though, so I might still not harvest anything.
Squash – Vigorous growth recently due to all of the rain and mild temperatures. Multiple flowers showing. There might be enough time to get a harvest or two of the summer squash, and I’ll cross my fingers for the winter squash.
Asparagus – Died back when I transplanted it. I thought I killed it. That shit is tough. It popped back up even more vigorous than before. I’ll wait a few years before I harvest.
Artichokes – Holy cool summer, Batman! Artichokes are a heat loving plant, and they didn’t appreciate that all through July our night time temperatures never seemed to go above the 40’s. It was a strange season, that’s for sure. The plants didn’t make it, and I won’t try them again.
Tomatoes – Doing FABULOUS! I ended up putting in about 80 plants, and only a few have had trouble setting fruit. My biggest mistake with tomatoes was not labeling them well. My permanent marker washed right off of the wood labels I had made, so I had no idea what kind of plants I had until the fruit was mature. They have just started turning red this past week, but there are hundreds of fruits. Even if the frosts come, I know I’ll be able to pick the greenies to ripen in storage. Principe Borghese was a pleasant surprise – set a lot of fruit and ripened quicker than the rest. Roman Candle wasn’t very productive compared to the others. Paul Robeson and Big Rainbow are still my favorites for flavor.
Peppers – Doing FABULOUS! I’m pleased as punch that they started producing the moment I got them in the ground, although it got to be a bit of a pain having them so big in here. Next year I might plant them a few weeks later. I won’t do Hungarian Hot Wax – they made my dear husband cry they were so hot. I could barely handle them. Cubanelles were the most prolific, followed by the Marconi sweets. I won’t raise California Wonder again. They didn’t produce a ton, and what they did produce was pretty runty. The Purple Beauty peppers produced well and gave a beautiful splash of color. The Albino Bullnose were very small sweet bells that needed a lot of extra calcium to prevent blossom end rot – twice as much as the others.
Rice – I’m going to try this again next year, but a little different. I would like to expand the cavernous hole at the bottom of our hill where we took soil to fill the raised strawberry beds. Then I will line it with pond liner. I need a deeper “paddy” than the kiddie pool. I would like to mess around with aeration, too, perhaps finding a small solar set-up. When I transplanted the rice, much of it died. It was very root bound, and I had to tear it apart a lot to get it out of the buckets. Next year I might just start it like regular plants in individual cells to decrease transplanting stress.
Flowers – I had mixed results with flowers. I planted most of them too late into the summer to set flowers. My marigolds are still all green. Next year I would like to start them earlier, so I hope the weather cooperates. One can hope. The sunflowers just yesterday started showing heads. I may or may not harvest before the frosts.
As far as the soft fruit patch goes, I let the strawberries run wild after picking the flowers off for nearly a month. We ended up getting a bowl of berries a day until a few weeks ago. The June-bearing have far outgrown the everbearing, setting out more runners and bigger leaves. I look forward to a large harvest next year. The elderberries took off, and are setting fruit as we speak. Their large, white flower heads are turning into heads of berries. It won’t be a lot, but something is better than nothing. Everything else is still growing and only time will tell when they flower. We checked on the blueberries in the south field. The ones that survived our harsh winter are doing alright. I want to transplant them back over here this fall.
And now… some pictures of what I’ve been harvesting the last few weeks.
Tomorrow I will share an awesome meal idea that I tried out last night to rave reviews from everyone in our family – including our picky 6 year old. Have a great weekend!