WHAT THE GARDEN HAS TAUGHT ME THIS YEAR - 2011

Each year has brought it's own unique learning experience in the garden. Everything we have learned about gardening has been trial and error...with lots of errors.  One of the biggest learning curves, is understanding how we are at the mercy of the weather and mother nature.  Here it is, early September, and we have been in a heat wave!  It is hotter now than it has been all summer.  The nights are colder, leaves are turning brown, and during the day we have sweltering heat.  Strange.
In seven years, we have had one year that produced really, really well.  Not a good ratio.  This year the weather was all over the map, so the garden grew, died down, got cold, got hot, then grew some more...as did the ever growing fur and cedar trees that surround our neighborhood.  As a result, we now have less sun in the gardens than in previous years.
Next year, I will give up trying to grow tomatoes.  Our weather is just too cool, damp and often foggy.  Not a good combination for tomatoes.  When you plant 12 tomato plants, and only get a couple of bowls of tomatoes - the cost and effort is just not worth it.  Our Local Organic Farmer's Market sells beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes - which is the way I will go from now on.
I am debating  whether or not to continue to plant winter squashes.  If our warmish weather holds out, till the end of October, we might get a couple of squashes.  This year, our summer started too late for the squashes to really develop.
Even the zucchini, which are normally abundant, were challenged.
Things I can grow?
Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Beets, Lettuce Greens, Lambsquarter, Collard Greens, Kale, Broccoli, sometimes carrots, Green Beans, and some Zucchini.  All herbs seem to grow well too.
Next year, I have to re-think the garden plans, and plant accordingly.
I did discover:
- To heavily "Lime" the raised beds in the fall, and add another layer in February.  With all the firs and cedars, the soil easily becomes too acidic.
- Combining our own Compost, with Composted Steer Manure really fed the raised beds well.
- How to grow beets, - plant lots, thin them out adding the pulled baby ones to salads.
- Water the soil, not the plant.  I know, probably common sense, but this was a learning curve for me.
- Plant extra green and yellow beans - in raised beds.  I learned the hard way that beans do not produce well grown in pots.
- The beans can be directly sown into the soil, however, most other veggies I will need to start in the mini green house.
- Next year, I will plant extra basil, to freeze for pesto.  Dang!  We did not plant nearly enough this year.
Although, the garden was a lot of work this year, for not the greatest yield, I still appreciate everything we can grow ourselves.  Next year.....some better planning will hopefully give better results.
Does anyone have any growing tips to offer for our ever changing weather?

Ina Gawne
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2 comments on “WHAT THE GARDEN HAS TAUGHT ME THIS YEAR - 2011”

  1. Great lessons, Ina, but sorry you had to learn them. From our perspective, your vegetables have been prolific and gorgeous. 😉 There are so many variables. No garden for us as we live in the woods. What folks seem to do around here is do two plantings. So they will have "early" and "late" versions of things. It's sort of a way of balancing the odds better it seems. So usually if the early planting is not successful, the late one is and vice versa. Sounds like a lot of work, but if only planting a few plants, it's not any more work ... just work that's split into two phases. But I'm not a gardener, so I can't speak from personal experience. Anyway, I'm sure your post has helped some newbie gardeners and hope you get some more suggestions! 🙂
    Shirley

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September 11, 2011
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