Our Garden 2013

“Neglected” has to be the word that would best describe my garden this year, but that being said; we had some successes, some failures, and the results of some experiments to share.

I hadn’t grown broccoli before, and I made the mistake of waiting too long to cut the little heads off in the summer. When I finally got around to it, they had flowered. Hoping to see if we would get any usable side shoots, I cut the heads off and let them start over. I am so glad that I did, because we were rewarded with some small-medium sized heads this fall. They probably would have done even better had I watered them more, as they were in a raised bed. The cauliflower was no good, but I’ll probably try again next year. *UPDATE* The heads turned into LARGE heads of broccoli by the end of the season!

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I got the potatoes planted quite late in the season. I think if I had planted in EARLY spring, and waited until the tops had died before digging, I would have had a larger crop of bigger potatoes. As it was though, I am just happy we got anything! I planted Yukon Golds, Purple Vikings and Norland Reds(I think).

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Kale was a superstar in our garden this year! I planted in the spring, and it survived the summer. By fall it looked glorious! Dark blue-green with lovely crinkled leaves. And it was delicious in our Zuppa Toscana soup!

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Look how pretty the Brassica beds look! Just ignore the weeds please.

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And while we are on the subject of Brassica, the brussel sprouts were a little bit of a disappointment I’m afraid.  I planted them in late spring with kale, broccoli, cauliflower. The leaves are large and lovely to look at, but the buds…They seemed to go straight from small and tight, to small, loose, and leafy. I didn’t find any of the hard, tightly packed balls that I expected. This was my first attempt at growing them, and I’ll definitely do more research and try them again because we love brussel sprouts! They weren’t a complete waste anyway, because the large leathery leaves are apparently a favorite of our chickens, and the loose sprouts were still delicious steamed with other vegetables and served over brown rice. I read online that you can eat the leaves in various ways as well, so we’ll try that next year!

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The tomatoes did not do well this year, and there are a handful of reasons why I think that was the case. I should have dug wider, deeper holes, with a small embankment around the hole to keep water in. And I should have filled the holes with compost with just a little bit of our native soil mixed in, instead of the opposite. I think because our soil needs some work (It seems pretty clay-ey), the water just couldn’t penetrate deep enough. And I didn’t water often enough. To make matters worse, many of the tomatoes had to be dug up and replanted so that we could have a tractor come in to prep the backyard for sod. So all that being said, of the few tomatoes that we did grow, I’ll plant Superfantastics, Cherokee Purple and the Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes again next year, along with a few new varieties.

Oh, and I will NOT be using the weak tomato and peony cages for my tomatoes again next year. As pathetically small as my tomatoes were, they STILL managed to weigh the cages down to the point of leaning over. My Dad and Grandpa both use heavy duty wire fencing that they wire together into large, round, sturdy cages. I hope to build some of my own next year.

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The jerusalem artichokes = SUCCESS!  Planted these late last fall and have already harvested some of the lovely tubers (In fact, I have some in my crockpot with a beef roast as I type). I’ll go into more detail in another post, because I think more people should be growing these. They are a great source of food, and they give another boon of flowers!

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If you happen to notice the way the jerusalem artichoke patch slants…I tried an experiment, and that is the result. If I remember correctly, I only planted the very small round tubers on the right side, and medium-large tubers on the left side. As you can tell, the size of the starting tuber does seem to make a difference in the size of the plant. I wonder if seed potatoes work the same way?

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My two Poorman gooseberry bushes had blossoms, but no fruit. I may not have watered them enough, and perhaps that is the reason they didn’t produce, but I have high hopes for next year. They were planted in the last last year or so, so they may just be getting settled.

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Our garden wasn’t great this year, but we tried some experiments and learned a few things. More time weeding couldn’t hurt. *smile* Our soil is less than perfect, and would benefit from a lot of organic matter. We added some horse manure last year, and a little bit of grass clippings and compost in some areas, but not nearly enough. So this fall I hope to till in all of our sycamore leaves and more grass clippings. Our vegetable garden is partially located over what used to be gravel RV parking…so, yeah. Buried gravel. Thankfully, last fall we put in a few raised beds using cedar fence slats. So I’ll add some compost to the beds as well as work on sifting out more of the gravel. I’m already excited to start planning next years garden! Hopefully we’ll have even more success, and fewer failures!

 

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