10.27.2008

Garden lessons

As I mentioned, the garden's been put to bed for the year.

I learned a lot this year. Last year my garden consisted of a few tomato plants and herbs in pots, with a half-hearted attempt and peas & beans in containers as well. This year, I had a huge (to me) space, and wasn't sure how to tackle it, but did my best. Not everything succeeded, but I do believe my experimenting paid off. I'm writing my evaluations down so I don't forget them months from now when I'm trying to get things started next spring.

  • Peas: They were delicious and fairly successful. I should have planted more for preserving (freezing), though we definitely had plenty to eat during their season- the real problem was, I got burnt out on harvesting them so often.  If I kept up on the harvesting, I think I would have had even more. Also, I need to plant these in the fall as well- I would have loved a second crop.
  • Lettuce- because I can't preserve lettuce, I need to plant way less this year, or find a few more friends that will help me eat it. Even with eating salads for lunch for days and days on end, I didn't even dent the harvest. I did love being able to go out & pick my lunch before work every day. So, action points: Plant fewer plants. Perhaps plant spinach, which can be harvested for salads or cooked & frozen.
  • Beans: Actually, I think I planted a good amount of these- We had plenty to eat while they were in season, and plenty preserved. I got burnt out on harvesting these, too, but that was after we had plenty put away.
  • Herbs: This year the herb garden consisted of thyme, chives, cilantro, parsley, dill & sage. The basil didn't make it, and that's the herb I would have used the most. I used chives & dill a decent amount, thyme, parsley & cilantro only periodically, and almost no sage. Next year, my herbs will not be in the vegetable garden- I've moved them to the flower garden instead. I don't need to allocate space when I use them so sparingly. I may change my mind some day. I will make space for basil, and make sure it succeeds next year.
  • Corn: The corn stalks grew happily, and as soon as I was ready to harvest the ears, I found half of them husked & strewn about the yard, presumably by raccoons. Awesome. Lesson: plant more corn to offset the raccoon losses.
  • Potatoes: My Yukon Golds did great- I was very pleased. Harvesting was hard work, for sure. I could stand to plant more next year, perhaps, but was happy with the yield this year. We'll see how long they last- we're still eating through them, with plenty to go.
  • Carrots: These were moderately successful, although not pretty. I'll probably plant these again, but plant more, and prepare the soil better beforehand,.
  • Squash: My (winter) squash harvest was an Epic Fail . The squash spread and took over every other crop's space and made me mad at it, and just when I was hopeful I would get something out of the most irritating plants in the garden, squash bugs descended and killed all the vines. I got one pumpkin-sized squash, that's it. Next year: Plant a summer squash like zucchini that ripens earlier, plant a bush variety rather than vining, and maybe try pumpkins- if I do, I'll find a spot away from the rest of the garden.
  • Tomatoes: These just were OK this year. Next year: More plants, and more attention to them. Also, no yellow tomatoes. I had a hard time giving those away or making anything that looked appetizing with them.
  • Berries: I love my raspberry vines. They are awesome. The mulberry tree was a nice experiment- don't know if I'll bother picking any in the future. I'm seriously considering a strawberry bed.
  • Weeds: Flourished like crazy. Next year, I'll make a schedule to stay more on top of them. I did learn about edible weeds, which was fun. That doesn't mean they belong in my garden.
  • Square-foot gardening: Like I said, I was experimenting this year. I decided to make wide rows consisting of a few rows of plants between walkways, similar to the square foot gardening method. This worked for some crops and not for others. I think a single- or double-row planting will be simpler next year, especially since I'll have a little more space.
  • Succession planting: I NEED to have a plan when one plant is done producing for another to take it's place. This is where my major weed problems appeared this year- when the peas were done, I just left them and neglected the plot, creating a mess. Sames goes for the garlic and the sunflowers.

For those of you who live close, any veggie requests for next year? For those of you who live further, any crops that succeeded for you that you think I should try?

Pictures of the uprooted-and-newly-edged-by-stone garden to come

5 comments:

Anonymous Cogitations said...

We my family first moved into our house about 14 years ago, there was a strawberry bed from the previous owner. We tried to maintain it but it was REALLY hard to keep the birds away. We had netting over it and everything. I would talk to people about it before you decide to do it.

Anonymous Cogitations said...

When, not we (for the first word).

Kacie said...

I was just thinking about your garden, and wondering how it did.

Someday, maybe I'll try to grow some stuff myself!

Stephanie said...

Sounds like a great first year. Seems I learn something new every year....or have to rethink what I thought I knew. Spinach will bolt when it gets hot Swiss Chard has a similar taste but will grow all season. I'm trying strawberries next year, not that we will get any the first year, but I'm still excited! :) Oh and it may have been crows that got your corn too. We lost a lot to them this year! Grrrr!

Alisse Goldsmith said...

I'm so impressed. One note: Matt and I just ran out of dill, and we use it pretty regularly. You should be so happy that you grew your own and didn't have to use store bought. That stuff is $20 an OUNCE!!! I was shocked. I am for sure growing herbs next year, when we are a bit more settled.

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