Friday, November 6, 2009

Looking back at the garden

Stephanie at Keeper of the Home (a very neat blog by the way) is hosting an Organic Gardening Carnival. The idea is to share how you garden went this year. What worked and what didn't and what we want to do next year.

This is something I have been thinking about anyway so I thought it would be fun to post about it as well.
We have a large garden by most peoples standards (If you compare it to my parents it is quite small!) and we try to fill it up. This year I planted in good time (What is thought to be the correct time for our zone 3 but ended up being a bit early) but then our summer got very busy and the garden was a bit neglected. There were disappointments but all in all God truly blessed and we were able to eat lots of good organic food all summer and we still are from what we have put up.

At one end up our garden (in the fence that keeps the deer from eating everything) we have a couple little apples trees (they aren't producing yet), strawberries, little northern blueberry bushes, perennial herbs the compost bin and this year I added 5 raspberry bushes and a grape vine. We also have a some perennial flowers and some room where we plant other herbs and flowers.

In the main part of the garden I planted this year:

  • Lots of corn! I wanted to a bunch but I planted at the normal time (memorial day) but this year it was a bit early and it got cold again after that and so germination was pretty poor. A couple weeks later I did some replanting but still ended up having some germination problems. We did still get quite a bit of corn. We ate a lot fresh and froze some.
  • Tomatoes (around 40 plants). The plants were all started either by my, my dad or a friend. I wasn't very careful about keeping them labeled (so it was a surprise when each of them produced) I would like to keep a bit better records next year. We had tomatoes earlier than most people I knew (we had an extremely cool summer) but never ended up getting a lot. I only canned a little salsa and one canner full of regular tomatoes. The tomatoes were very weedy, I think next year I might try to use black plastic around them.
  • Lettuce (a wide row about 10 feet long). We were able to eat a lot of lettuce (and I enjoyed all the salads) but couldn't keep up with it. Next year I want to plant less but then plant a little more every few weeks. I liked our leaf lettuce better than the romaine that we tried this year.
  • Carrots. We planted a wide row about 10 ft. long. They did good for the most part even though I was neglectful in the weeding. We enjoyed eating them throughout the summer and then when we dug them up we had a nice amount and we still have some. The kids loved pulling them too, which made them enjoy eating them as well.
  • Beans. These did horribly. Much of the seed never germinated and what did grew super slow! But in the end it didn't really matter. My family is not really enjoying the home canned beans anyway and they don't like frozen beans. We did enjoy a few meals of fresh beans. They also like canned beans from the store and have liked my canned beans in the past just not these last few years. SO... Next year I either just plant enough to eat fresh or I find a variety that will not get wide and stringy or yellow.
  • Cucumbers. These were very slow growers. But I did end up getting a few. Next summer will hopefully be warmer and I will probably plant the same amount again. Maybe more so I can try making pickles.
  • Zucchini. I planted 2 and that seemed just about right.
  • Peppers. (hot and sweet) I planted around 10. They actually did better than normal (peppers do not do well for me- anybody have any advice?) and I was able to have some to cook with and make salsa with. I think that would be a fine amount if I could get them to be more productive. Maybe I will look for a different variety. I would like to have enough that I could freeze a bunch of chopped up green pepper.
  • Broccoli. I planted around 8 plants. We got some but they didn't form very big heads. I need to study up on that. They didn't get worms though so that was nice!
  • Cabbage. I had 3 plants and they produced. This is my first success with cabbage so I was pleased.
  • We also had various herbs (which I didn't use very well- I want to get better at that. ) and lots of flowers.

So that is what we did do, here are some of my dreams for next year:

  • Carefully research and order seeds early. (Does anybody have any suggestions?)
  • I think I will go ahead and plant tomatoes in black plastic. So far I have always used old carpet, newspapers and natural stuff for mulch but I am thinking maybe the black plastic would be better for keeping the weeds at bay and warming the soil.
  • I also plan on planting less tomatoes but caring for them better.
  • Add more Raspberry bushes.
  • Get some BIG loads of manure from my parents farm. I have been hauling some over little by little but I want to really get a bunch!

There are probably other things but I can't think of them right now. I am excited about doing it again however. Even when it is discouraging there is something very neat about growing your own stuff!

Something that always brightens my day is seeing all my perennial flowers blooming. I think they are the way to go and hope to keep adding a few more each year.
What are your gardening plans for next year?


{Abigail Jasmine} said...

So great! Wow! You had a pretty big garden...Yumm!!

I love your next years plan- more raspberry bushes..Those are the best.

I haven't had the chance to settle on a piece of land long enough to start a garden!...Someday though

Hope you & your lovely family had a blessed weekend~

Jackie said...

I love gardening and canning. I loved reading about your garden. It is definitely a learning process, but so rewarding. Definitely a blessing from God to be able to have organic produce you grow yourself. You reminded me that I had wanted to post a final garden post.

Kathryn said...

If cool weather crops like cabbage do well where you are swiss chard will grow for you. There is a packet of chard that comes in multi-colors:red, yellow, white, orange. Also if carrots did good beets and turnips should too.

Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home said...

Abbi, your garden sounds like it still did pretty well this year!

Reading all these garden posts, I'm already excited about next year, lol! I like to order my seeds in early January, and I buy heirloom ones from Baker Creek Seeds ( I really like that company. One thing that I will plan more carefully for next year is to have both early and late varieties of things like tomatoes.

One tip for tomatoes is to definitely mulch them, with the plastic or just with grass clippings, newspaper, hay, etc. I think tomatoes are quite heavy feeders and just really need a whole lot of great fertilizing. I like to give mine a lot of manure, put crushed egg shells under while planting (calcium), as well as offer compost or organic fertilizer as often as I can in the summer. Also, keeping them a little smaller (pinching them back once they get big and leafy) seems to help them focus on producing nice tomatoes rather than just growing bigger.

It was my first year doing broccoli too. Mine didn't have big heads either and I wasn't too impressed. I don't know if it was the variety I planted (DeCicco) or if it was how I cared for them.

Thanks so much for joining in the carnival! Good to have you! :)

Anonymous said...

I think you ought to plant your herbs right next to the house near a door. I use mine all summer, but if I had to run clear to the garden like you do I don't think I would use them as often. I am really missing them now that the frost has competely gotten them. I wonder if you spread grass first, rather thickly, and then put the black plastic down if you wouldn't have a wonderful growth of tomatoes. You couldn't do that in much warmer climates because it might get to hot with all that rotting, but I think it would work there. ~♥Anna

Abbi said...

Thanks everybody for the tips and ideas! I really appreciate them and think I will put at least some of them into action.

Thinking about all this is making me feel even more excited to grow our own food next year. Actually I'm not sure I want to wait until next year. I think maybe I will try growing a few things like lettuce and herbs inside this winter.

Becky R said...

I used the black plastic this year under my garden and everything did incredible. I had about 200 or more tomatoes from Aug.-Oct. I had so many peppers, and eggplant as well. I can't wait for next year.

But I am going to plant a few things spaced out (like a few weeks later) that is a great idea.

Nola said...

I live in a similar zone (2b to 3a). I have a lot of trouble growing things that are "hot" weather plants. I try to give these things the absolute sunniest spot in our garden. Someday I hope to experiment with cold frames. Its just been so wet and cold the past few years here. I buy all my seeds to be the most wet and frost tolerant possible. My kale is still outside. I never thought I would love kale, but I disguise it in smoothies and make them purple with blueberries...and then it works even my 3 year old eats it.
Peppers you asked for advice- I cannot get mine to grow here at all. I think I have given up. Its just too cold and wet. If anything I learned though is to try the fastest maturing variety and the one most cold tolerant since we only have about 90-100 frost free days here.

I love gardening! Thank you for sharing. I have only been gardening really for 3 years by myself so I have lots to learn too.

Betsy said...

I had a similar experience as you with our tomatoes (planted a lot but only yielded enough for a bit of canned tomatoes and salsa) and our lettuce (planted about 8 or 10 feet of it and couldn't keep up with all there was to eat, even when we gave a bunch away). Let me know how your lettuce grows inside this winter.


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