Sunday, October 11, 2009

October: Looking Back on the Garden Year

It is mid October and we got snow the other night! Certainly earlier than we would expect around here. As a result, I just dug the carrots yesterday and picked the last of the pumpkins. The last produce from our garden this year! I write that with some excitement because, frankly, the one thing I didn't expect was HOW MUCH WORK a garden can be. It was well worth it... definitely a two person job though!

We were up to our ears in fresh produce this year. So, what went well? All the radishes we planted produced more than we knew what to do with. Carrots. We got our share. Lettuce! We had WAY TOO MUCH! It grew very well... which was our downfall. I'm the only one who eats lettuce in our house. Our cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100's) produced TONS of beautiful red fruits. The yellow beans and green beans we planted did great. Of course they would, this IS Iowa after all. Zucchini and Summer Squash, we found ourselves looking online for recipes to use it all up. Peas, the Sugar Snap Peas did just fine. Every cabbage plant we had produced a good sized head. We got some cauliflower and a bit of broccoli. And, along with a bunch of pumpkins and decorative gourds planted on another part of the property, we even got a few watermelons. I can't forget the sunflowers we planted beside the barn.

What didn't work so well in the garden this year? We planted way too many radishes to know what to do with. Next year, we'll do a small first and later second planting. Much less lettuce! And again, like the radishes, we'll do several plantings so we can enjoy it longer. Tomatoes were interesting. First, the ones I started from seed died off. Doing a little research, I failed to "harden them off" before I put them in the ground. We ended up buying plants from a greenhouse. While we got lots of cherry tomatoes from these plants, we didn't get many "regular" sized tomatoes from our other plants... I forget the variety. But, everyone I talk to said that their tomato crop this year was poor. Apparently it was too cold or something. Cucumber. We got a decent first crop, then, they got some sort of disease that made them all look like gourds. I've got to do more research on that. We planted eggplant which never came up. We planted strawberries and not a single plant amounted to anything. I will try again next year and try to stay on top of the weeds better. I think that there was too much competition. Our peppers were marginal. We planted banana, red, green, yellow and purple peppers. The banana peppers did ok, but the others were not so great. I think these needed to get in the ground sooner, because this early frost we had took out some pretty good looking SMALL peppers. We planted basil and cilantro in the garden this year. Next year, we are going to pot it. The weeds took it over. The garlic was a complete failure. Not sure we'll do that again. Some things are just easier purchased from a store. Our beets were devoured by deer (we think). We didn't get a single beet. Next year we'll fence them before the deer get to them. Onions were small. I'll try a different variety next year. The "regular" peas we planted got the blight (can peas get blight?) and we only got a small crop of those to freeze.

All in all, it was a good first effort. We learned a lot this year, and will gladly plant our garden again next year. I promised a garden layout some time ago. I'm still going to do this and post it. For my own records as much as for anyone elses' possible interest. Winter is coming... maybe since I don't have a garden to weed and tend, I can actually get some posting done this winter. Happy Fall!

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