Currently Harvesting... Not Too Much
In the last few weeks, I've slowly been harvesting green beans, broccoli, summer squash and peppers.
Though the garden is twice as big as it was last year, 25% of it is flowers, and 25% is pumpkins/squash/sweet corn. The pumpkins and squash are not ready yet, and the sweet corn was a total bummer. I didn't water it enough earlier this summer, and then the raccoons got what was left.
My bed of carrots produced exactly two carrots, and the lettuce bed has gone to seed.
In the next month or so, I'll start harvesting tomatoes and peppers, which are two of my major crops. I would like to get another crop of carrots in, but we'll see if that happens.
Out of my one row of kale, two or three plants spouted. Those that did sprout are doing well.
Out of the three lavender plants I started this spring, one has survived and is doing well. It took FOREVER to get established, though. I've come to realize that lavender plants started from seed will require a year to just get started. Right now my home-grown lavender plant is about 2/3 the size of the lavender plant that I bought.
In addition to lavender, my rosemary plant is holding steady and there is a very small patch of thyme out there, as well. The mints I transplanted this spring absolutely took off in growth. Next year I will plant an entire bed of mints instead of just a few square feet. That will be my "tea garden".
Flowers: A Big Disappointment
As I mentioned before, I planted 1/4th of my garden in flowers: sweet peas, delphiniums, glads, freesias, pumpkin-on-a-stick, sunflowers, and many others. The "many others" did not even come up, probably because weeds choked them out. The sunflowers and glads did decently well. However, between the frost and bugs, only a small percentage of the pumpkin-on-a-stick and delphinium plants survived to maturity. None of the freesias even came up, which was a disappointment because they were rather expensive. After babying them for months, the sweet peas are finally starting to flower and they are beautiful. But like the other flowers, only a few plants are left.
It looks like my pumpkin-on-a-stick plants have overcome the bugs at last. I was wondering if I'd have more than a few stems to use, but it looks like most of my row will produce some stalks. I look forward to to using them in flower arrangements (or selling at the farmers market!) this fall.
Mistakes & Changes for Next Year
1. Planted too early. I planted many things in mid-late April. Most of them did not actually GROW until May, when it warmed up. I decided that next year I'll wait until May 1st to plant anything. This means that I'll start my transplants a month later.
2. Tomato & pepper transplants died. Something happened to almost all of my tomato seedlings, to where I planted them in the raised and then they withered and died. About 3/4 of my pepper plants froze. So I ended up purchasing tomato plants. They were not all that expensive, and have done very well. Next year I am going to buy at least tomato plants, possibly pepper plants as well, and focus my seed starting efforts on flowers and herbs, which are more expensive to buy.
3. Not enough watering. In June we experienced a small drought, which permanently stunted my corn. I didn't start watering the entire garden (I was just using a watering can on certain plants) until after that, because I had procrastinated putting a splitter on the hose and hooking up my own sprinkler. Next year the sprinkler/watering system will be all ready to go.
4. Too many weeds in the row garden. I knew that would happen, because... row garden. The tiller and I don't get along. I did have Hubs till once or twice, but the tiller tilled under all of my mulch (primary weed defense) and I did not have enough mulch to put any more on. So tilling is really not an option if I want a weed-free garden. Next year if I do a row garden, I will put mulch between the plants and plastic between the rows.
5. Bug infestations. I had major problems with striped cucumber beetles, blister beetles, rose beetles and grasshoppers. I'm not sure how to take care of the grasshoppers, except perhaps fencing in the garden and throwing a duck or chicken in there. However, I found some traps and did some hand-picking of the bugs (much easier when there are no weeds, which was problem number 1) and for the most part we pulled through.
6. Raccoon infestations. So the coons got my corn... or whatever there was of it. Only thing I can think of to stop that is fencing in the garden or trapping the coons.
7. Low germination rate for herbs. I mistakenly transplanted individual thyme and oregano seedlings, and later realized that the thyme plants you buy are actually clumps of plants, not one plant like lavender or rosemary. Speaking of those two herbs, I probably had three or four of each germinate, but only a single plant (lavender) survived to maturity. Next year I will do some research on germinating those two herbs (especially lavender) and also basil (only one plant survived to maturity).
8. Mulched the strawberries with straw. That was a disaster. Weeds all over the place! Next year I am just going to use grass like I do for everything else.
Some things I think we did right this year were 1) utilizing more raised beds. They were half of the garden, but only 10% of the work. 2) Weed whacked between the raised beds. It took 15 minutes every 3-4 weeks, and looked great compared to bare dirt or even mulch. 3) Adding flowers. Even though the flowers don't feed us and I didn't have enough to sell at the farmer's market, they kept me interested in the garden and were beautiful to look at. I think growing flowers (especially from seed) for vase arrangements can stretch your home decorating budget a long way.
Til next time,