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
ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
I had a lot of old seed. I planted it all. I don't have a record of when it went into the ground. Frost happened late this year so they may have been planted mid-may or possibly after Memorial Day. The soil had no improvements made at all. That section has been fallow for a while, hosting calendula mostly.



The beefsteak got bugs in the fruit. The black plum were prolific. The Amish Paste tomatoes were in pots and didn't give a big yield. Tons of volunteer cherry tomatoes everywhere, including growing in the fire pit. They got planted indoors at the end of March. I liked the Amish Paste but the best tomatoes came from Dave. They were Roma and amazing.

seeds that work


I have been looking for old receipts from seed savers. The only potato that has survived year after year is a fingerling variety. I think we only had three plants but they gave quite a yield.

fingerling potatoes

I bought cranberry potatoes from an heirloom seed company in Indiana. They were very slow to get eyes and grow. Once they did get going, they gave a good yield. They are similar to some blue varieties we've grown in that frying isn't their strong suit. They are excellent in soups and stews and bake well. We ran out of space to put all the cranberries. So we will have plenty of seedlings for next year. The cranberry potatoes are red on the inside. They grew just as well in regular dirt as soil that had manure added.

cranberry potatoes

In spring, we bought organic potatoes from the food co-op. They started to sprout like crazy in our pantry. We relegated them to the garden before they started to rot. I think they are basic russet potatoes, red skins, white centers. Not too bad for an unplanned planting. Side note: Some were in the raised bed garden in the backyard. It suffered bindweed, dry, hard soil, an overhang of mulberry tree and a rabbit. They still didn't do bad up there but the yield wasn't great.

russet potatoes

I had to plant a couple of times as nothing came up or if it did, something got it. Again, I emptied a stash of old seeds into the ground. Last year, we had a surprise butternut in that spot, growing out of the compost. This year, a Long Island Cheese pumpkin came up from 2010 seed I think. We got five pumpkins off two vines. It needs both male and female flowers open at the same time for polination to occur. One vine produced more female flowers. But two vines were necessary I think. There were house flies in the flowers. Honey bees, and many other bugs loved the flowers so hard to say what actually did the polinating.

pumpkin patch

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

Sunflowers: We had a mix of seeds. They managed to bloom but the deer found them eventually and ate the flowers.
Inspirational Color Palette

I planted indoors. I got three plants. I transplanted them to the front garden. The cabbage moths ate fabulously. They are still growing but have no flowers at all. Think I needed to plant them sooner.

Peas were planted early. They did fine despite the rabbit. They liked the twine I put out for them to climb. The seed was old. I replant almost every year. Beets: I planted indoors. I transfered them into the garden. One survived. May try direct planting next year if the rabbit can be kept out. The beet greens were tasty in salad. They were Detroit Reds.

I have June bearing strawberries growing in the raised bed garden. The rabbit just loved the strawberries. I didn't get any. The tiny Alpines did okay despite the Mourning Dove nesting on top of them. We had those on salads.
Garden Guardian

Another Companion


ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)

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