Friday, October 9, 2009

Garden Goals - Looking Back

At the beginning of the garden season, I made some goals. Now it is time to look back and see how I did at achieving those goals.

  1. Don't buy nursery stock. Start everything from seed this year. - Well I achieved this goal, but the results weren't perfect. As I reflect, there were two seed starting screw-ups this year. The first was with the peppers and eggplants. I had a lot of trouble getting them started and by the time they sprouted it was later than I wanted. That late start and the cool summer made for a much later and smaller pepper crop than last year. The other seed starting do-over was with some of my fall succession plantings. I tried to get spinach, beets and green beans started many times in July to no avail. I either need to start those fall plantings indoors in a controlled environment or try some outdoor planting tricks (board over row). Those fall planting mistakes are going hurt our four season harvest and early spring spinach production.
  2. Better variety - Last year was marked by too many romas, and hot peppers and not enough of everything else. I want Mellons, rhubarb, beans, zukes, onions, potatoes, brussel sprouts - and much much more this year. - This goal was partially achieved. We had a much larger variety this year than last, but as I revisit this list, there were several vegetables on it that we didn't harvest (zukes, mellons, brussel sprouts). The groundhog took the mellons. A fungus took both zuke plantings. And I planted the brussel sprouts too late and in the wrong spot. We won't be harvesting a single sprout this year. All that being said, I am pleased with our variety this year. We harvested 18 non-leafy, non-herb veggies this year. Add to that the lettuce varieties (approx 5), and you have quite the variety. The best proof of our variety was the fact that we really never go tired of eating any single vegetable. Each night was a different tast. Last year I didn't want to see another darn tomatoe.
  3. Extend the season - I hope to look back on this season and be able to point to some tangible evidence that I successfully extended the season. - Success. We had our first garden salad on a 20 degree day on March 22nd. That is early. Also - my cold frame was not fully functional until early in March, so it didn't have the benefit of a fall planting of spinach, carrots, and winter tolerant kales and lettuces. As of today, our cold frame is filled with just such veggies. I expect that we will be harvesting these for little salads and soup add-ins all winter long. Season extension was not just a modest success - it was a huge success.
  4. Crop rotation/succession planting - Success. The succession planting worked very well, but not in the way I envisioned. I pictured a steady, regular supply of beats all season long because of succession planting. And boy did I try. But once I got past the first spring crop of early veggies (beats, spinach, carrots), I had a hard time getting the second and third plantings to take. Where succession planting really thrived was planting different veggies in the vacated spot of an earlier veggie. The whole garden was producing something the entire year. And green beans and peppers are the perfect veggies for late planting. I'll defer a crop rotation discussion till next year. I need to see if I am able to stick to my rotation plan.
  5. Enough Compost - Super-Success. I can't say enough about compost. If you don't beleive me go back and look at the 17 posts where I mention the stuff. My compost operationg is darn near perfect. The stuff heats up, it doesn't smell, it looks good, and it breaks down fast. To top it all off, we have had enough.
  6. No Hose Watering - Success. Seven rain barrels did the trick. We only watered with the hose for a two week period in the midst of a big drought.
  7. Compost Tea - Not so good. I tried it, but didn't love the results. I didn't get fancy making my compost tea. All I did was put a burlap sack of finished compost in one of my rain barrels. Most experts recommend some sort of aeration technology. Well you know I wasn't going to do that! My tea got smelly and nasty looking after a couple of weeks. The compost worked its way out of the sack and gummed up the watering cans. After one barrel of tea, I abandoned this goal.
  8. Family - The whole family was certainly involved in the garden and in the yard, but a new infant and a flower/veggie segregation of duties meant that Sarah and I were rarely working side by side. This can always be better.

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