Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garden in July - the hits

So yeah, I had some missteps. And that is just the veggie garden! Not touching the flowers and such! Here are some of the more promising developments in the ol' garden.

1) I like the square foot gardening method. The boxes are attractive and orderly, and some day, when I get my act together, the garden will be a little more like a retreat kind of place. I'm a fan.

2) We have about 8 tomato plants, in two boxes. One box is producing a lot more ripe fruit than the other, mostly grape and cherry tomatoes, but now the Black Krims are coming in (as of today) - cannot wait to try them!

3) Broccoli - We are so happy that we grow broccoli. It grew nicely this year, though a couple times we missed our harvest time and they started to get flowers/bolt/whatever you call it before we could get to it. Dang.

4) Lettuce - From May on, we've enjoyed salad after salad after salad. Right now, our romaine is all done, but we're enjoying some soft, loose leaf type lettuce pretty regularly. Yum!

5) Cabbage - First year growing it, and so far so good. Harvested one head, made a slaw, it was good!

6) Sugar Snap Peas - First year, again, and delish!!! Loved picking 'em right off the vine and popping out the peas and noshing on 'em. Mmm.

7) Bush Beans - Just about the only thing we grew from seed that grew well. I have blanched and frozen tons of the beans (and broccoli) for use in the fall/winter. We used a lot for dinners, and they taste so much better when you eat them 10 feet away from where you picked them!

8) Random structures - As my small wire "supports" became epic FAILS, I started hauling through the random pieces of wood in the garage rafters and constructing more stable supports for tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. They are totally hillbilly rigged, with twine and chicken wire accents, but they do the job nicely. I think when fall comes I'll start making more permanent structures for next year. Maybe starting it in the fall will keep my memory fresh as to JUST HOW HUGE tomatoes, zucchini, etc. get! Looking at the pictures, maybe they should be back in the MISSES post! But they are getting it done.

Tomatoes before supports
Tomato support structure 1
Hey, it was all random wood from the rafters, it ain't pretty!
Ahh, the cucumber cage. Someone said it looks like a jail. I guess the chicken wire resembles barbed wire a bit.

The structure I WAS actually proud of was my strawberry pyramid (also from scrap wood in the garage). However, it took a beating from the dog (see misses).

9) Onions - We've had tons. None of them are getting HUGE like the ones you'd buy at the store. I've been picking them for green onion use, and some of the smaller bulbed ones for burgers and cooking. Is it because SFG doesn't go deep enough for them to really settle in and get huge? I really wanted to dry some, too. They are delish, though!

10) Raspberries - OH MY GOSH - they grew out of control in the spring. Canes sprouted up EVERYWHERE and we just kind of ran with it. Cut down a whole bunch of them, let a whole bunch more stay where they were, and have been munching on tasty raspberries all summer, just about. It seems like production is dying down a little, not sure if it is because we just had a huge storm, or just end of season for them. But I've been loving picking it straight from the plant and popping 'em in my mouth - the kids have, too!

Anyway, though I don't think the harvest numbers are anywhere near impressive enough to say "oh, we saved a ton by growing our own veggies this summer" I have still kept somewhat track of what we've yielded. Obviously some stuff didn't get weighed (especially berries, as they were just munched outside!). Here's the rundown (in pounds):

Lettuce: 5.05 (We didn't weigh all of it in the early harvesting days of May)
Strawberries: 1 (that made it into the house for weighing)
Raspberries: 1.05 (ditto to above)
Broccoli: 4.58
Beans: 2.22
Sugar Snap Peas: 1.15 (see strawberry and raspberry thing)
Tomatoes (Grape): 1.38
Tomatoes (Cherry): 1.54
Tomatoes (Black Krim): 1.3
Tomatoes (Yellow): 1.10 (That was just one tomato!)
Onions: 2.14
Cabbage: 1.25
Cucumbers: 2.09
Zucchini: 2.66

I thought I saw, at some point, a counter widget for blogs that you could use to track your harvest...anyone know where I can find that?

How is YOUR garden growing?

Garden in July - the misses

As always, a garden has certain wild card elements. Some in my control, some out of my control. This year is no different.

Here are some of the issues I've faced this season:

1) Compost heap: I had a dream. A dream of compost piles in the back corner of the yard. No tumbler, just heaps. And then the ugly rodent situation reared its ugly little head again, and I ditched that idea. Not ditched it, but put it on hold until I can get a tumbler.

2) Rain barrels: After getting all excited because our water reclamation center was selling them, I didn't buy 'em. A friend said he had old clean barrels I could have, and then we didn't hang out for awhile, kind of forgot, and then each time it rained I just got pissed as I remembered I wanted rain barrels.

3) Cauliflower: There was some mildewy yuk on the heads when they started to come up, and after cutting it back and waiting for new heads to come up, they didn't really co me up. I pulled it up to clear space for peppers (see #6)

4) Broccolini and Broccoli Raab: Neither grew well. Spindly and didn't really look "right" - a real shame as my grocery store no longer carries broccolini and we miss it. Horribly.

5) Supports: So I thought that the metal square cages - you know the ones? They can fold flat, but they can be put like a long fence, or folded into squares around plants? Anyway, thought I was all slick, used those along the back of my boxes to support tomatoes. How do I have the selective memory that allows me to forget HOW DAMN HEAVY tomatoes get??? Every year I forget. Anyway, they were obviously not strong enough to support my plants and I had to modify my plans and rig something up. Ghetto, but functional. See upcoming "HITS" post to see the pics. Maybe it should be in "MISSES" - you be the judge!

6) Zucchini takes up a LOT of space. As does watermelon. And butternut squash. And if you think you can shove a bunch of any of these in a 4x4 box, and try to slip something else in there...just don't. I had peppers planted in the back box with a variety of HUGE things, and ended up transplanting them to other boxes. They weren't really thriving where they were (I had them in a couple boxes) and they seem to have perked up a bit since being transplanted.

7) I guess my strawberries were mostly June-bearing. What a gyp. Great for those few weeks, and now we're strawberry-less. Sigh. Will have to remedy that next year. Also, my beautiful strawberry pyramid that I fashioned out of spare wood in the garage rafters? Yeah. Almost entirely dug into by THAT DANG DOG. In fairness, it was in her fervored pursuit of the rodents mentioned above, so I had a hard time being too angry. But it still sucked.

8) Square foot gardening is both boon and bane. Love it in so many ways. However, was lulled into thinking that with the landscape fabric underneath, there would be minimal weeding. DUH except for the ones that come from airborne sources. Or sneak over from the lawn. DUH, Amy.

9) I need to get things in order. As usual, I let things go, and have great ideas on paper at the beginning of the season, and then...well, life happens and I have half finished projects all over the place and that happened in the garden, too. I put in a brick pathway between two of the front boxes. Um...I am not good at this. I am going to get a pretty wood sign to put over it that reads "Ankle Breaker" in another language. It's a bit uneven, and not super great, but I am still proud of it. Ish.

Stay tuned for the "Hits"...

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