21 Jan 2019

ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
It's always a good thing to go over what worked and what didn't. Also to identify what can be improved and drool over seed catalogs, especially since tonight will be the coldest night of the year. Our low will be -1°F. We're in Zone 6. So far, it was a mild winter, more rain than snow. Then, that polar vortex split three ways so we are in for a bit of a cold snap. It will be a while before the ground is thawed enough to work again.

We've gone over what we'd like to eat more of and what we can live without. Allergies play a big role in this. Right now, none of us seem to be able to digest broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards or any dried legumes. It sucks because we love our brassicas and bean soup. Hubby's allergic to beets. I suspect the GMO beet sugar is behind his allergy but he is still having issues with organic as well. I may still grow some to exchange with other people or to use as dyestuffs. I definitely want to try the black beans as a dye.

There never seems to be enough onions, carrots or celery. So these are things I'd like to grow more of. Another thing I'd like is lettuce and assorted salad fixings. We decided that our most prolific tomatoes had very little flavor so perhaps a different variety should be tried. Our black plum tomatoes ripen so very late in the season that frost is a real threat to production. So next year we will still grow them but perhaps add some other varieties as well. We use tomatoes for sandwiches, paste, and sun-dried for winter pizzas. So we'll look at a few different varieties. I picked up sun gold and some amish paste tomato seed from the MI Gardener.

Pests took their toll in 2018. Deer slept on top of the zuchini bush one night, totally destroying it. They ate most of the strawberry plants, crowns and all. My solution to this is to plant a bed with whatever remains and keep it covered at night until the dill gets big enough to deter the deer. The ground hog chewed quite a few of the bigger tomatoes. The raccoon took out all the corn. Slugs ate the lettuce. Onions were a favorite of one of the critters. I got 3 onions out of 50 but they left the potato onions alone. There was also a skunk behind the garage as well as a huge rabbit up the hill. We hired a trapper. The raccoon chased off the ground hog once the corn was ripe. He pooped right at the mouth of the burrow. The trapper didn't get any animals so the ground hog and skunk are gone. Raccoon lives up a tree nearby. Birds ate the goumi berries. Ants farmed aphids on the elderberries. The lacinato kale did spectacular as did the collards. My neighbor was gifted those when she brought us radishes. And ground wasps moved in to the front yard garden as well as the red raspberry patch in the back. We'll have to watch to see where they move this year. Apparently they moved every year, not far, but a few yards away, traveling eastward.

Tallying up the totals all over again (because the computer died), I've learned a lot. 276 pounds of food and herbs! This does not include dye stuffs. The first real harvest took place the week ending April 21st. It was just a pound of food, consisting of rhubarb and asparagus.

The total amount collected by the end of June was only 36 pounds, by the end of July - 71 pounds cumulative, August - 110 pounds. So, summer crops yielded around 36 pounds a month. The largest harvest occurred the week ending Sept 15th with tomatoes, pumpkins and squash coming ripe all at once. In that one week alone, 47 pounds of food was harvested. I grew at least 90 varieties of plants. I lumped my small, assorted surviving lettuces as just one category even though there was three or more varieties.

The top ten producers

10. Purple Queen Beans 4 lbs.
9. Carrots 6 lbs.
8. Cucumbers 8 lbs.
7. Mulberries 9 lbs.
6. Rhubarb 10 lbs.
5. Zucchini 10 lbs.
4. Assoted Potatoes 19 lbs.
3. Butternut Squash 27 lbs.
2. Assorted Tomatoes 41 lbs.
1. Long Island Cheese Pumpkins 80 lbs.

In a normal year, these numbers would be much higher. The red currents did not produce at all. The year started out very wet. Come August, the weather switched quickly to very dry. Since I was at Pennsic, the garden took a hit. The Pennsic ground crew were very worried that cars would not be able to drive in some areas due to mud. Some were even cordoned off. That was July. August was another story entirely. It rained everywhere in PA except Canonsburg. I kid you not. Every rain system stopped at the edge of our town. Not a drop inside. It was spooky. Rain returned mid-September but it was too late for fall crops. I lost my peas. Malabar spinach started to thrive after the rain returned but cold temperatures cut it short. So that's the recap.

To increase next year's yield, I'm trying a different kind of potato, one that matures earlier. Adding space by using smart pots for the potatoes, and adding two new beds, both 2' x 12' long should do the trick. If the berry bushes thrive a little better, I hope to hit 350 pounds of food. Keep in mind, for a family of 3 adults, we would need to grow 2000 pounds to cover all our vegetable and fruit needs. We are nowhere near that. At this point in the year, we are out of almost all the cans of food we put up as well as frozen food. But we still have four pumpkins! Think there will be more pumpkin galetes in our future. (And pumpkin soup)

Christmas Dinner


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