Garden Update

120722 EggplantThis year gardening has been a challenge.  We’ve had weeks and weeks of rain, followed by high heat and humidity.  The weeds are loving it since I simply cannot pull them when it’s 100 degrees in the shade.

I planted my beets twice this year and have two that survived.  The same thing went for the lettuce.  My carrots are spread all over the garden because Chester took a romp through it before I put up my makeshift fence.  Fortunately they are a very recognizable plant and they are growing where they landed.  The potatoes are insanely huge, but they too are growing all over the garden in odd places as well as the hilled rows.  The only squash I planted this year was the Long Pie Pumpkin.  They love my garden every year so I knew I would not have to worry too much about them.

My tomatoes may or may not have blight, I’ll have a better idea when I get up there today.  It’s too bad because they are loaded with fruit.  The most exciting thing happening is the eggplant.  I have never grown them (not sure why not) and they are doing quite well.  I like getting to know a new plant.  I thought I would see fruit before now because it seems like it blossomed some time ago.  Each plant has at least one eggplant on it now so I’m dreaming about ratatouille or moussaka.

Canning season should begin in earnest this weekend.  I used to do jams with spring fruit but have found that we don’t eat it – at least not as much as I can.  Strawberries are frozen for desserts in the winter.  Tomatoes are the big item for me to put up.  I always like to plan on 40 or more pints done various ways at the very least.  I will also be making bloody mary mix as well, hopefully we will manage to keep a couple of quarts until Christmas once again this year.  We always seem to drink it as we make it – it’s so good you can’t help yourself.

I have a few cucumbers – I’ve planted enough to eat fresh but not enough to can.  I always think they are going to yield more than they do.  If I was to grow enough to make pickles I think half the garden would have to be reserved just for them.

I will be picking yellow beans this week.  I didn’t plant as many as last year and I have to say they didn’t come up as well either.  Just as well, I canned quart after quart of them last year and it seems like that was the only vegetable we ate all winter.  I’ve had my fill.  The scarlet runner beans never ran.  They too had some issues with the leaves curling up and turning yellow.  I did notice a couple of flowers on them last weekend but they are bushy and only a foot high – quite the disappointment there, was hoping for some hummingbird action.  The new beans I planted this year, Organic Blue Cocoa Beans, I thought were bush beans but it turns out they are pole so I have rigged a trellis of sorts for them to climb.  Had I been on top of my game and actually reread the specs on this bean I might have laid out my garden in a whole different way.  Live and learn – that has to be every gardeners mantra.

After a very slow start my asparagus bed is looking awesome!  Another two years til harvest, isn’t gardening fun?

The garlic looks fantastic and I will be digging that up this weekend.  The onions not so much.  They are small and just don’t seem like they are doing much (probably too many weeds around them).

Last but not least are the rutabagas, my favorite vegetable.  They are doing great.  I should have enough to get me through the winter and share with everyone I know to convince them just how delicious they are.

I picked a few quarts of blueberries last weekend, I will be picking more today.  I like to have some in the freezer for winter muffins or pancakes.  The wild ones have a tartness that isn’t found in the large domestic ones.  There are a number of bushes all over the back forty, I cover only one of them and share the rest with the birds.

All in all the garden is more successful than I had originally thought although the yield is not what I expected.  I will be visiting farm stands for canning this year and rethink how things were planted and dream about next years garden – always thinking ahead.  I keep thinking that one of these years I will hit upon the magic formula that make everything grow to its potential.  Of course, mother nature will have other plans I’m sure.


It’s That Time of the Year

End of year garden 2012

Many people are getting their seed catalogs out and pouring through them this time of year.  It’s good to do a little planning and have your seeds ready to go whether you need to start your tomatoes in the house, are sowing some seed in your hot or cold frame or are just thinking about what will go where in the garden this year.

I’m a planner, it’s one of my favorite parts.  I plan what I’m going to plant and where it’s going to go in the garden this year.  I plan what plants will be next to the others keeping companion planting in mind.  I plan different designs because I hate how boring it is to look at a garden with plants in rows. I pour over the charts I’ve kept in past years to make sure I don’t plant the tomatoes and potatoes in the same place year after year.

I work on an order with High Mowing Organic Seeds that I continue to change week after week from October on, waiting until the last minute to place it.  I read their website for all the info I can gather about the new seeds I want to try growing.  There are always the tried and true to grow like last year’s Gold Rush yellow snap bean.  I cannot say enough about this bean, it was prolific.  I started picking beans in July and picked them until frost.  They weren’t those tough, tasteless beans either.  They were tender and tasty until the very end.  I lost count of how many pints I canned but I know Sue and I complained towards the end of the season every time we picked enough beans to can once more.  Of course now I’m glad I did.

The other plant I grew this year and introduced to everyone I knew was Joan Rutabagas.  I grow them every year and was a little in awe at how few people had never tried rutabagas (probably because they are my favorite vegetable).  They require a fairly long growing season but are very cold hardy so they weren’t dug until well into October.  I fed them to everyone.

Every year I pick one or two new plants to try. Some work out very well like the Gold Rush beans. Some don’t
but I feel like I haven’t given it a real chance unless I plant it a couple of years in a row. Each growing season is so different.  Here’s the problem, every year there are more and more things I want to plant but I don’t have the space to plant them all.  I have to cut down my list of seeds.

Sad, sad.

There are currently 27 items in my cart.  I probably should get rid of half.

What it really makes me do is plan a new garden in another spot on the property.  It’s always some nice piece of lawn that Bill has worked on for years.  He’s not going to like this.