Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Garden Update

2011 has been a lackluster year in the garden. Things are growing, but only doing okay, not great.

First the good (of course).

The green beans have made a good showing. We have had more than enough for dinner and to share, and I have also put up about a quart into the freezer. As of June 14th, the plants are looking wilted and tired and I think the harvest is tapering off.

My potatoes did well, but I did not buy enough seed potatoes. I planted 2.5 pounds and harvested 12.5 pounds. It is a decent yield for me ~6x and right on par with my best potato harvest ever (planted 7 pounds, harvested 35 pounds in 2009). I had zero bug problems in my main potato patch this year, not so much as a bug nibbled potato in the whole harvest. This is great news, and much better than a friend of mine who reported that his potatoes got blight and he does not expect any harvest at all this year. I think one big factor was that I rotated the location of my plantings this year. One volunteer potato plant came up in the 'old' location and that plant suffered from pests and some sort of wilting disease so I pulled it early.

Sweet Potatoes. Well, I can't count this as a harvest yet, but I am so happy that this year I was able to plant over 35 sweet potato slips grown from sweet potatoes that we had bought to eat. Each time I found an eye on a sweet potato I was about to cook, I would cut off a small section of the potato containing the eye and stick it in a pan with water. After about 6 weeks of this, I had a huge crop of sweet potato slips in my kitchen window. I planted 9 plants prior to June and then planted the remaining 25 slips after I harvested the white potatoes. There are about 10 more slips that are still forming roots in the window. This was a great learning experience and very successful way to get lots of sweet potato plants (even before the harvest).

Also doing well (without photos) are: Swiss Chard, mint, oregano, basil, also pumpkins and winter squash (all very healthy and producing volunteers).

I had okay luck this year with my spinach, garden peas, summer squash. These are producing okay, but just not thriving.

And now the bads... my poor tomatoes look awful, the plants are small and anemic, there is very low fruit set (no fruit at all on most of the plants), and there is some sort of disease or pest causing a yellowing of the leaves. The "Little Porter" tomato is the only one that seems to be thriving. Brandywine has a strong plant, but no fruit. All the others look awful. Considering that Hubby judges the success of my garden by the weight of tomatoes produced... this is a dismal year.

Eggplant, cucumbers: both fell victim to the hail and never recovered.

Corn. I guess since this is the first year I have planted corn, and it got the shady side of the garden, I can't call this a true failure. I have about a dozen corn plants, waist high, and they are starting to flower (tassel?, ear?, fruit?, produce?). I am not sure what they are doing, but they are starting to form something that I hope will turn into corn. Since I have such a small patch, I am counting on having to pollinate these things by hand (with a brush) since corn is wind pollinated and you need a strong stand of corn to get good pollination.

Peppers: the seeds I planted did not germinate, so on June 10th I bought two pepper plants from the store.

Mulberries: these are not in my garden (or even in my yard) but the trees down the street had a very light harvest this year. I kept watching and waiting for the fruit fall to really kick in (last year, it stained the sidewalk and street purple from all the fruit), but this year... not much. We did not even walk down to try to harvest any, I figured with such a light harvest the birds needed them more than I did. Hubby points this out to me as proof that we should take advantage of the good years when they happen (for example, we are still eating last year mulberry jam with about 8 pints left to go). Good lesson.

Peaches: similar story to the mulberries, not my tree, but my friend's and he has reported a very small harvest this year. We do NOT have any peaches left over, so I will have to buy them to can this year.

Other milestones in the garden this year: compost! Hubby has taken over the compost area and expanded it to 4x what I had. He is diligent about turning it and even brings home other people's veggie scraps and coffee grounds from work to add to his compost bins. We have already gotten a 55 gallon drum full of finished compost which we added to the garden when we planted the sweet potatoes. It is some very pretty stuff.
Rain water: the water totes are hooked up and working great... now if we can just get some rain.
Bees: the girls are working hard and as of May we had more supers on the bee boxes than we had at harvest time last year. Hooray bees.

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