Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2009 Season Summary

Despite the bad growing weather that wiped out virtually all of the tomatoes, we had some successes this summer.
Onions: about 200, some as big as half a pound
Garlic: about 30 heads of German Extra-hearty (and we saved 10 as seed for the 2010 season)
Herbs: all the oregano, sage, dill, chives and dill we could use. The basil was less prolific, but we don't use much of it, so it was sufficient. The thyme and rosemary were okay, but we should buy an extra plant of each next year.
Green beans: I'm the only one who eats them, and I only eat them fresh (not canned or frozen). We picked 4 to 6 cups, and probably could have had more if we'd picked them more frequently.
Asparagus: We were over-cautious in deciding when to stop harvesting, so we only got somewhere in the 2 to 4 cup range. We could easily have doubled that if we hadn't stopped picking so early. We could have eaten four times as much as we had!
Summer Squash: A mediocre year, probably due to the weather. Probably 15 or 20 yellow squash harvested. Many of the female flowers failed to set. The zucchini (which we like less, of course) was more productive. The same number of fruits, but on fewer plants.
Winter squash: These did reasonably well. About a dozen each of spaghetti squash and butternuts, despite both varieties getting a late start (again, due to the cold, wet weather).
Cucumbers: The early crop did okay (less than a dozen cukes, total) but petered out quickly, and the late crop produced only a couple mis-shapen fruits.
Peppers: These did great, which is surprising, since they're in the same family as tomatoes (and therefore at risk of catching the late blight that killed the tomatoes), and they also prefer hot, sunny, dry-ish weather. Before I stopped counting, we'd harvested at least 100 banana peppers from just six plants, and I'm guessing we had twice that many fruits by the end of the season, many of them made into pickles. The green peppers (18 plants, I believe) were equally productive and larger than usual, probably because of the extra water available to them. At the end of the season, after we'd already been harvesting a couple a day, on average, we picked at least enough to fill a five-gallon pail. And then after the frost, we picked another gallon or two.
The absolute best things to come out of the garden, though, were Jazz (calico in picture), Todd (orange in picture), Sophia (calico), Olivia (orange) and Moses (tiger with double paws). Yeah, I know they're not really garden-related, but they've lifted our spirits in a dismal growing year. Plus, if you look closely, there's celery printed on the quilt they're lying on.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Garlic weekend

This is garlic weekend. A little later than I'd hoped, but the weather has been dismal. And, as noted a couple days ago, the peppers keep hanging on, and they're in the bed that will be garlic and onions next year.

For the main garlic crop, we have ten heads of the German extra-hardy garlic that we've grown in the past (which should produce about 50 cloves, and thus 50 heads next year). We also have a new-to-us variety, Chinese pink, which should produce about 30 heads next year.

We've already planted the scapes, in about a 4' x 6' plot, followed by five closely-spaced 4'-long rows of transplanted first-year cloves from previous scapes, and then three progressively closer and more chaotic patches of the first-year cloves.

My fellow gardener did the first five neat rows, with the cloves spaced 3" to 4" apart, and I got to toss the rest randomly. Our excuse is that it's an experiment: will the neatly planted rows produce sufficiently bigger or otherwise better cloves that it's worth the effort to plant them that way?

Really, it's just that I'm a lazy gardener. And it's fun to throw things without getting arrested for it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First frost

We had several days with frost last week, and not just frost but a freeze too, with overnight temperatures in the twenties.

I went out afterwards to pull up what I was sure would be shriveled-up pepper plants (we'd harvested most of the fruit before the frost, and covered them with light plastic in case the frost was minor), and was stunned to find that most of the plants were thriving. Sure, there was some damage along the edges of the bed, where some branches had been fully exposed to the cold, but most of the plants were in great shape.

And there were several good-sized peppers that we'd missed during the rushed pre-frost harvest!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Busy, busy

The first frost is late this year, but I expect it to happen in the coming week.

We harvested the last of the banana peppers a couple days ago and made four quarts of pickles with them. The spaghetti squash will come indoors this weekend, along with the basil and zucchini. That just leaves the bell pepper plants, which have a lot of small-ish fruit on them, so we're trying to give them every possible remaining moment in the garden.

Bell peppers are perennials in the right climate -- not here! Someday, I'd like to try to transplant one or two of them into huge pots to overwinter indoors. They wouldn't produce much, if anything, in the way of fruit during the short days and minimal sunshine, but in theory they'd be big and sturdy and ready to produce heavily when they're returned to the outdoors in the late spring.