Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Reflections on last years garden

By the end of the gardening season I was so tired of gardening that I couldn't write about what I was proud and what I wanted to do differently. This weekend we spent a morning in a dark basement transplanting tomato seedlings grown from seeds we saved from last year. Tim, my cousin who never does anything in a small way, planted every seed we saved, which added up to something close to 250 heirloom tomato seedlings and 75 heirloom pepper seedlings, not to mention all of the seeds which haven't been started yet. He won't thin them either, arguing that we can sell the extra ones (like 225 tomato seedlings and 65 pepper seedlings?)

It is still fun to start the process again for this year, but I think we did learn a lot last year which I want to write down for the sake of reflection. So in no particular order, tidbits of learned knowledge or things I'm proud of.
  • Llama poop makes things grow.
  • Spinach does not grow well in our soil.
  • You don't need to plant a whole lot of kale, swiss chard, radished, cucumbers, yellow squash or zucchini, since we got more than we could have ever needed of these. One thing I'm proud of though is that I froze a lot of greens and still have two baggies left in the freezer. Last year, I bought a bunch of greens every week and I didn't buy store-bought greens once this year!
  • I don't need to can anywhere near as much jam as I did last year (even after I gave a ton of it away).
  • Tomatoes are glorious, but growing them is hard work (staking, getting rid of horn worms, etc.) canning them is really hard work, and we didn't even dent our tomato stores this winter. I still have jars of salsa and stewed tomatoes. (So why 250 tomato seedlings? Good question.)
  • I want to freeze more berries for smoothies.
  • I want to use my dehydrator more for more things - more peaches, blueberries, etc. The tomatoes sort of took over the dehydrator last year.
  • I didn't get any mature watermelons or canteloupe, though I wanted them terribly. I have to try them in another location in the garden.
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes did great for our half-assed start - we want to do more. (I ordered seed potatoes this year instead of sprouted potatoes out of one of Raph's coworkers' work closets.)
  • The corn was somewhat successful, but I need to let it get a better head start over the beans, since they created a matted mess of corn stalks that was hard to figure out. Also, we need to pick it all when it is ripe and freeze what we can't eat instead of letting it get overripe.
  • Pumpkins did well, especially for no poop, but they need to get an earlier start. (This may also apply to melons.)
  • My favorites from last year's garden were beets, which I couldn't get enough of, eggplants, which were awesome roasted and frozen, carrots - especially the purple ones which were delicious roasted, and cabbage, which was easy and beautiful. I want more of each of these.
  • Don't plant peas against the house again - it was too hard to get to them.
  • Brussel sprouts were a bust - have to be started indoors. Try again.
  • I might have overharvested my rhubarb last year (since my freezer is still full of it).
  • Peppers did pretty well (especially for no poop), but we bought started plants. Those that met the deer never recovered. They did great frozen too!
  • Grow cilantro in phases instead of having it all come at once.
  • We saved so many seeds - cilantro, peppers, melons, tomatoes, radishes, arugula, squash, etc.
Our first crop is already up and growing this year - GARLIC! We planted a whole bunch and are excited for the garlic scapes this spring and for garlic later in the fall. And we've added onto the garden. One more big ston bed and this month we're putting in at least one more raised bed, maybe two. Also we're putting in strawberries, and hopefully asparagus this year...

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