Garden Log: End of Summer 2014

This is the second year that I had my very own backyard garden and I have decided that I need to start keeping track of thoughts about it at the end of each year (and probably throughout the summer too, but oops this is my first one) so that I can remember what worked and what didn’t, what I want to change for next year, etc, so that I can continue to make it better and better and not make the same mistakes each year. I have a horrible memory, but for some reason I always tell myself, oh yeah next year I’ll remember to do this, this, and that. Nope. Never happens. I absolutely need to write things down if I am going to remember them ever again. So here goes. Thoughts on the garden this year: by item.

Garden Harvest

The first little harvest from the garden this year

Tomatoes- This year I planted two types of cherry tomatoes and a larger eating tomato. The first type of cherry tomato was the same golden sweet ones that I did last year and that my mom always does because they’re the best. I still love them the best. The other type I did was actually a kind that my mother in law picked out and started in a pot at her house and then brought over to go in our garden here. They were smaller, bright red cherry tomatoes. The plants themselves were really unruly, with branches spread all over the place even when I tried to tie them up. The tomatoes were good and super plentiful- it made tons of tomatoes. But they weren’t as sweet as the other kind and I honestly did not like them quite as much. As the season went on they also tended to split on the vine if I didn’t harvest them in time, making them messy to try to pick and I ended up wasting a lot because they didn’t keep once they split. Next year I think I will just go with the golden cherry tomatoes. The big tomatoes I did are good and I like them. I may try to do more of them next year as I didn’t get that many out of the three of four plants I had. I also would transplant these sooner as they took a while to mature– I still have a lot of green ones out there and only really had a couple ripe ones to eat so far and I’m worried we’ll get a frost before the rest are ready to be picked.

Kale- I got a flat leaf variety this year, because last year my curly leaf kale was the home of choice for bugs. I think they are spider eggs and babies actually, but I’m not sure. All I know is that they are a pain to clean off and it made me not even feel like picking or eating the kale because it would take so long to wash it. This happened just as much with the flat leaf kale, although it was slightly easier to clean because there were less curls for them to hide in. The bugs only came through the second half of the summer, with the earlier leaves being totally fine. The younger leaves also taste better anyway, so next year I think I should plant half as much kale, harvest it before mid-July, and then plant another batch after that, so that I end up with no plants that get too mature or leaves that get too big and tempting to the bugs.

Beans- I planted green beans and black garbanzo beans. The green beans are great. They grow fast and are so easy. This year I only planted half a row because I wanted space for the garbanzos. Last year I had planted a full row. I think next year I want to do a full row again because green beans are so easy and yummy to eat. I feel like I didn’t get that many from my few plants this year. The garbanzos seem really cool. I love garbanzo beans and this was my first time growing them I only did a few plants of these as well, and it turned out that each plant didn’t provide many beans. Each pod only had one bean in it, and I only got maybe a tablespoon of beans out of all of them. I haven’t eaten them yet, so we’ll wait and see how they taste, but if I have enough room next year I would do maybe two rows of them in order to have enough to really bother eating.

Zucchini- I made the mistake of planting multiple plants of these. Bad idea. Next year if I do them at all, I will only do ONE plant. Also, mine were called golden zucchini, so they were yellow, not green. I feel like I didn’t even like them that much. I may not bother doing any plants next year.

Cucumber- I made the mistake of planting these right next to the zucchini. They got totally overwhelmed and blocked by the zucchini which were larger, and I only got a couple good cucumbers off the vine. I would rather do more cucumbers and less zucchini next year.

Peas- These were also next to the zucchini. Same problem. They didn’t get enough sun and started to wither and die when I only had gotten a couple peas off them. It was very sad. I also had not prepared a good enough trellis for them. Next year I will set them up better and allow them more sun. I love peas.

Lettuce- I had bad luck with my lettuce this year. I had a mesclun mix that I used last year as well, and it started out fine, but then we went away for the 4th of July and when we got back most of the plants had bolted already. I also disliked the taste of a couple of the plants in the mix so I only really enjoyed eating about half of it. I ran out of these seeds this year anyway and won’t get the same ones next year. My other lettuces did not grow well so I need to also get new seeds for next year. I will focus on romaine I think. I also liked the spinach I had, but I only got a couple of heads to grow and when I tried planting more they never came up. I also got this winter lettuce mix that said you plant it at the end of the season and it produces through fall. I tried planting it a few weeks ago and nothing came up.. I just tried again today so we’ll see if it comes up or is not worth trying again next year.

Radishes & Carrots- I do one row of these together. I always end up with lots of radishes all at once and let half of them go bad. I can’t honestly eat that many radishes at once, and only really ever use them cut up in salads. Last year I ended up roasting some of them and eating them cooked when I had a bunch at once, which was ok but I still didn’t love it. I don’t know if it’s worth planting them next year. They just always are fun because they’re the first thing to come up which is exciting. Maybe I’ll just plant less. The carrots always take forever and never get very big. I like carrots but can’t decide if they’re worth it.

Onions & Garlic- My onions were a bit of a disaster this year. I planted yellow and red ones and neither of them got larger than a quarter. I don’t know why they are so tiny, but I think it could be partly because their sun was blocked by the kale a bit, but also could be due to the fact that I feel they got a bit stunted when I first planted them. I think I should have kept them wetter and should be more careful about watering when I transplant them next year. They had started to look like they were starting to dry out and wither right after I transplanted them. The garlic did great, but I with I had planted more. I’m not sure if my supply will last us through the winter, which would be my ideal goal. They were ready for harvest by mid to late August, so I think I could plant twice as much next year, and then put something else in their spot once they come up– maybe the winter lettuce if it works, or a new batch of kale.

Eggplant- I did eggplant for the first time this year. The ones I started from seed inside never came up so I bought small plants and transplanted them in, and then I also tried my seeds right in the garden later on. The plants I bought produced one small eggplant each so far. There are still flowers but I can’t tell if they will produce before it gets too cold. The seeds I planted have a couple flowers too but so far have not produced any eggplants. I think these take too long, and I either need to figure out how to germinate them indoors better and have them started sooner or not bother with them next year.

So that’s pretty much it for the garden. I hope that this helps me remember what I want to plant and how to make everything thrive next week when I’m thinking about new seeds to purchase and how to lay out the garden. I don’t have a ton of space, so I always struggle with deciding which veggies will provide the most and be the most ‘worth it’ to actually plant and tend to rather than just buy in the store. I think the third year may be the charm!