Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Garden 2012--a recap

Oh my, four months with no garden update here. I'm going to try to hit the high points and low points of the last few months just so I have some sort of digital record. The garden started off beautifully in the spring, all neatly spaced and tidy. Then we spent a week at the beach at the beginning of May and it grew into a jungle--a producing jungle, but still a jungle. --New this year was a permanent water solution. A 4 way hose splitter and city water on a timer for 30 minutes every single morning from 6-6:30 am. I could definitely see an improvement in the early garden. --We put up the shade cover in early June. Unfortunately, it got a few tears in it this year from the T-posts I used to support my tomatoes. The fabric did not ravel and I should be able to use it at least one more year. Shade cloth was taken down on Aug 25th. -- bush beans did very well early on, my favorite was still the three bean seed mix. I had a huge harvest of beans the first week in May. It was two of my big mixing bowls full (and the weight is listed in my garden journal) and turned into 6 quarts of frozen beans. Not very long after this photo was taken, the bean leaves started to get spots on them, the spots quickly spread up the row and soon the whole patch was affected. The beans that were on the vine were dry and spotty as well. I ended up pulling the whole row on May 15th. From my internet wanderings it appeared to be a type of rust that affected the plants. --It was a great potato harvest this year. Over 20lbs of nicely sized potatoes with no bug problems. The potatoes have kept very well, we are still eating them from the potato bin and it is August 31st. -- The Swiss Chard was a winner in the spring and early summer, then the pesky chickens discovered it and stripped off the easy to reach leaves. Then the pesky sparrows got in on the party and stripped every single bit of green off of the stalks. By the end of June, I stopped trying to protect it from the birds and just gave up. Next year, I plan to plant the chard inside the garden too and maybe some in the front flower beds. It is so pretty and maybe with lots of it, I will get to eat some too. The leaves got HUGE this year, some were 14 inches across and over 3 feet long. --Herbs. Bumper crop for Purple Basil this year, too bad I don't know how to fix it so it is yummy. It is so pretty, I have to give it a chance each year. It was a bum year for Lemon Balm, I have a few stragglers that did not die out, but only one seedling started that I could see. Usually Lemon Balm is something that comes up everywhere. The regular sweet basil is doing great too. It is planted near the hose divider so I'm sure it gets more water than anything. --What a bizarre year for squash. I planted right on schedule, the plants came up and faltered, got leggy, then just flat out died. I even gave it another try in June after the potatoes were harvested and had the same terrible results. All of my seed is from NHG, just like every other year, but maybe it was a bad seed year? Not sure, but I did not even get to eat any of my own squash this year. How sad. First photo is end of April, second photo is mid May. --Sweet Potatoes, I got over 30 slips from store bought 'eating' sweet potatoes (photo from April). I also was successful at starting some of the wonderfully sweet Korean Purple sweet potatoes (we discovered these at the Korean super market, they have bright purple skin, white flesh and taste like candy). My mom brought about 10 of these slips home and the vines are going nuts at her house too. She has had great luck with sweet potatoes in years past. I never have. Hopefully between the two of us, I can eat some home grown sweet potatoes this year. --Tomatoes were great early on and then just blah this year. Harvested the first tomato of the season on May 15th. First flush of fruit were so thick it looked like clusters of tennis-ball-sized green grapes. After the first round ripened, the fruit set was minimal. They were staked on May 15th, had shade cloth, daily water. I'm going to pull all but the cherry tomato out this weekend. --Eggplant. Nothing but blooms and aphids. Very disappointing. Perhaps they did not like the shade cover. This is the first year I was able to keep the plants alive (cut worms have gotten them every other year, so I suppose that is a victory) --Peppers. GREAT! First big harvest was over 7 pounds and there is another big batch out there waiting for me now. I pickled the first batch, but ended up using the wrong kind of pickling spices and they don't taste the way I wanted. --Grapes?!? We briefly had a few clusters of green grapes which I kept an eye on until they disappeared. I guess the birds knew they were ripe before I could get to them --Children. Not really grown in my garden, but growing so much all the same. This is a drawing from my boy in mid-May. It is my garden, and me--mommy--with a watering system and a red light that shows when the garden needs water. I must be a fanatic if my 5 year old is designing garden watering systems for me. The three year-old is more interested in the animals and the idea of a farm with real live farm animals. For now, all we have are the chickens, and the bees, and the dog and the cat and the fish... okay, so it is like a mini farm here. If it were not for the auto watering system, there would not be much of a garden story for 2012. It has been a busy travel year for us. We spent a week at the beach in May, a week touring Scotland (yes SCOTLAND!) in July, and then a week at the cabin in Canada. More travel in three months than we have done in years. It has been fun, and also a bit overwhelming.
After all of that travel fun, we are home now, school has started and now it is time for fall planning! This fall I'd like to get in another crop of bush beans, turnips, radishes, more swiss chard, and I'm going to give the summer squash another attempt. I love my garden.

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