Last February I had ambitious dreams for my 2014 vegetable and fruit garden, and for the most part I was able to grow everything I set out to grow with success.
So pour yourself a cup of coffee and get comfortable. Let’s review how things went, shall we? My original seed growing list was this:
- Tigger Melons
- Red Malabar Spinach
- Bush Beans
- Mammoth Melting Sugar Snow Peas
- Giant from Italy Parsley
- Butterhead Lettuce
- White Stemmed Pak Choi
- Paris Market Carrots
- Supersauce Tomato
- Buttercrunch Lettuce
- Sugarloaf Endive
- Catalogna Chicory
- Black from Tula Tomato
- Brandywine Tomato (Suddeth's Strain)
- Atkinson Tomato
- Druzba Tomato
- Cossack Pineapple Ground Cherry
- Corvair Smooth Leaf Spinach
- Win-Win Pak Choi
- Detroit Dark Red Beet
- Chioggia Beet
And I actually was able to grow everything I put in the ground. Now, granted I didn’t actually grow everything on this list; here’s what didn’t make the cut:
- Sugarloaf Endive
- Catalogna Chicory
- Either Butterhead or Buttercrunch Lettuce…I did grow one, but just don’t remember.
Not bad, huh? So let’s review how things went:
Spring brought direct sow plantings of greens and peas. The Corvair Smooth Leaf Spinach is a favorite from last year and I made a point to grow more this year. What was new this year was the Pak Choi and lettuce. We LOVED the Win-Win Choi, but the White Stemmed Pak Choi got too big and leggy for my taste. The Win-Win Choi stayed small and compact and was wonderful chopped up and added to soups and stir-fry. Next year I will grow Pak Choi again, but just not as much. The lettuces were a nice treat too; and I threw in a packet of Wild Garden Lettuce Mix from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, which was lovely. I did find; however, that we really enjoyed the baby Romaine lettuce that sprouted from this mix, so I think I will grow some Romaine lettuce next year. We also had lettuce coming out of our ears, so next year, not so much or give more away. BTW, lettuce is a pain in the butt to really clean for eating!
The Mammoth Melting Sugar Snap Peas were delicious; however, they didn’t really start producing and putting out until June-July (maybe because it was a mild year for weather?), so my plan to have Pak Choi and Sugar Snap Peas for stir-fry didn’t exactly work as the Pak Choi was done by the time the peas were ready. I probably would grow them again if nothing else for eating right off the vine!
Late Spring/Early Summer
I planted a very unsuccessful bed of beets in May, which I have not had much luck with overall. I think the problem is they are planted in the back beds which do not get as much sun. I think beets need mild neglect to be successful in my garden. I did manage to get a few for a meal, though. Not sure if I will try again next year.
I ordered horseradish and rhubarb starts over winter and they arrived ready for planting. Of course, I won’t see anything from either for a year or two, but we’ll see.
Paris Market Carrots seeds were planted as well as Winter Sowed seedlings of Giant from Italy Parsley, and a variety of Big Box Store herb seedlings/plants to include basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and lavender. I direct sowed the Red Malabar Spinach and Bush Beans, and I also planted Winter Sowed seedlings of Tigger Melons and Cossack Pineapple Ground Cherries.
Oh! And I was finally able to pick and eat about 2 pints of raspberries from my potted Bristow Black Raspberry bush. The crows were having their way with the ripening fruit, but not before I threw some bird netting over everything. Next year I hope to have more, as I’m planting it in the ground.
This summer was The Summer of The Tomato for sure! I Winter Sowed a lot of tomato seeds, which was mildly successful as I sowed into Styrofoam cups that had a tendency to dry out quickly. The seedlings that made it were Brandywine (Sudduth’s Strain), Black From Tula, Supersauce, Druzba, and Atkinson.
I panicked thinking that my puny seedlings wouldn’t survive to give me fruit, so I went to the Big Box Stores and bought seedlings of Better Bush, Better Boy, Big Boy, etc. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
I planted 24 purchased seedlings and had about 15 more that were my own grown from seed. Well, not only did my puny, Winter Sowed seedlings make it in pots, but they produced the most mind-blowing, flavorful tomatoes I have ever had! So much so, that I am ONLY going to grow tomatoes that we will actually eat (versus can) for next year. All the other tomatoes were very prolific too, which ended up giving me 250 pounds of tomatoes for the season!!! But the truth is, I didn’t think they tasted all that great (compared to Brandywine!) and didn’t make that much a difference in taste from the tomatoes I purchase from the farmer’s market. So, in order to save me valuable garden real estate (and time!), I am going to purchase my canning tomatoes next year and grow only the yummiest, coveted ones for eating.
About the time the tomatoes were coming in, so were the ground cherries. I must admit the verdict is still out on this interesting fruit. They were VERY prolific and I have no doubt that I will have hundreds of ground cherry seedling volunteers next year. I did learn to let them ripen a bit after picking to get that true, mango/pineapple flavor. The cherries freeze wonderfully and that reminds me it’s time to try them out as jam!
Lastly, I was able to harvest the garlic I planted from the previous October in July! They did really well, but again, I think they would do better planted in the front beds that get more sun. I’m set on garlic for quite a while! BTW, you will get blue garlic if you make pickles using fresh garlic!
Late Summer/Early Fall
This time of year is game time in the garden! Everything is coming in like gangbusters and it’s all I can do to keep up. The tomatoes kept me canning almost every week.
The Malabar Spinach was still creeping along, but was showing promise. Truth is this green wasn’t really ready for picking until late September, which didn’t mesh up with the growth chart given on the seed packet at all. I planted it in June and expected spinach in late July early August. I was so busy with everything else that I didn’t even bother to harvest. It did; however, eventually cover my trellis and what I tasted raw was yummy, so I dunno….I might try again next year.
The Paris Market Carrots were cute as could be! I had dreams of canning these cutie patooties as pickled carrots, but failed to realize that each one of these tiny things would need peeling. Sadly, not many were eaten and were left to grow into mutants.
The Bush Beans were another favorite from last year. I planted 2 ½ beds and ended up having so many beans that many were not picked. I did find that I preferred pressure canning these lovelies to blanching and freezing, so they will make the cut again next year. Who doesn’t love green beans?
Lastly, I only managed to grow 4 measly Tigger Melon plants successfully. They really do need a trellis to grow on and I just never got around to it. I eventually got 4-5 Tigger Melons, which were beautifully exotic and somehow never got eaten either. #toomuchfood
I planted a bed of garlic from some of my dried, harvested bulbs and they have sprouted! They’re in a front, sunny bed, so I’m hoping on big bulbs next summer!
The Giant from Italy Parsley has grown like a dream and I still have 8 HUGE, gorgeous plants out there, even after the frost. From what I’ve read, parsley is a biennial, so it will come back (or stay) for another year and then set seed and die. All my other perennial herbs are doing well too.
Other miscellaneous garden-doings included finally planting the rooted runners from my single Bristow Black Raspberry bush. Man, that thing is aggressive. Earlier in the year, I bought 2 potted, fruiting figs (Olympian and Negronne) and they have grown about 3 feet from only being 6 inches high! They are now tucked away for dormancy in the garage.
I don’t typically have a fall/winter garden, as I’m usually spent from earlier in the year. But of course, my past 2 years have been focused on establishing a homestead of sorts, so who knows what will happen next year?
I will definitely give another hand at Winter Sowing and I’ve already started a “dream” list of veggies, fruits, and flowers for next year. That’s part of the winter fun!
All the beds are tucked away, blanketed in compost, shredded leaves, and rabbit poop…dreaming.