Saturday, November 30, 2013

Garden Post Mortem

Ofcourse with all the leaves off my neighbors trees the garden is getting all sorts of light. grrr...

 Winter, despite my lack of hospitality and warm feelings toward it, has settled in for the long haul here in central Iowa.  We've had snow that has stayed on the ground for over a week and 4 degree temperatures. The bastard is here to stay at least for the next few months.   All this means that I am very late in wrapping up this year's garden.  I think I have been avoiding reflecting on the past growing year because it was, once again, frustrating.  Apparently, I do not tire of complaining about my yard's lack of sun so... grumble grumble sucks.  I will ignore all implications that I just don't know how to grow things:)

But for all my negativity it wasn't a complete failure especially considering the continuing atypical weather patterns.  We had an extremely cold and wet spring (snow on May 5!) followed by a dry summer that took awhile to get hot.  Here's the low down:

Green Beans:  I am really digging this Empress variety and got nice continuous and yummy production out of my small patch.  I would have been pretty content with my lot if I hadn't been invited to come pick out of the garden of the friend who introduced me to the variety.  Her patch was not much bigger than mine but in full sun and her plants had about 4x the production of mine.  sigh...

Garlic and shallots:  Pretty good haul of medium size heads of garlic. The Music variety did the best.  The shallots were all pretty small. I've planted next years crop and it has been cold enough that there has not been any early sprouting this year.

Cucumbers: I got maybe 4-5 cucumbers total off of 4 plants.  I ran into a problem I don't think I had encountered before.  The plants were producing all female flowers and no males.  Female cucumbers require fertilization to grow into big cucumbers.  I watched perhaps 50 tiny baby cucumbers rot and die on the vine because there were no male flowers around for fertilization purposes. Damn cucumber sex.

Carrots: I had a decent crop of Dragon carrots (for me) though none of them got huge.  They were a tad more bitter than I remembered from last year which probably was a result of me not watering enough at a critical juncture.

Peppers:  These were perhaps the biggest heartbreakers.  The plants for most of the pepper varieties hardly topped 1' in height - my sweet peppers were especially pathetic.  I planted Tolli's sweet and Tomato-shaped Pimento and got maybe 2 Tolli's off of 5 plants and 5 pimento's off of 5 plants.  My hot peppers did a little bit better with the main variety being Fish peppers.  I though they were producing really great but in the end the haul was pretty small.
The Sum Total of my Fish Pepper Harvest.  Not so vast after all.

Tomatoes:  The big ones sucked but my yellow pear tomatoes (Beam's Pear) produced reliably as always.  They ripened a little early as well and were ripe enough for me to enter in the county fair (mid-July) which was a first. They got a blue ribbon despite the fact that they weren't quite fully ripe.

I think that is the outcome for all the major players - I did plant some potatoes that were given to me and the harvest as usual was lackluster.  The greens (Spinach, chard, lettuce, and kale) all did okay though the spinach practically bolted before it got big enough to be worthwhile to cut.

My resolution for next year is that I am going to try more hybrids.  I tend to plant predominantly heirloom (actually everything this year except the cukes)  but they can be less hardy and a little more moderate on production.  With my other challenges I think I might need to give the frankensteins a try even though I do love the taste of heirlooms.  One variety I am definitely going to try is a cherry/pear sized paste tomato called Juliet which was recommended on A Way to Garden.

I did some last clean up today and I guess it is now time to hibernate with my books and seed catalogs until spring when I will forget all about the disappointment from this year and hope will spring eternal once again:)

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