Friday, March 25, 2011

Reflections on 2011 Season

Before planning this year's garden, it is critical to review what went well and what did not last year.

We seem to have a lot of disease issues with tomatoes and cukes, so we intend to be quite careful about the tomato and cuke varieties we plant. Right now, I don't have cukes planned, but have chosen a few short season disease resistant tomato varieties. We will also be planting a few sunsugar (yellow cherry) tomato plants, as they are, quite possibly, the best cherry tomato ever.;)

We have very limited garden space for the, as I didn't plan very well for rotation last year. It's going to be best not to plant tomatoes, cukes, or melons anywhere where any of these were planted before (which pretty much accounts for all of our garden beds).

Also to be addressed: massive rodent problem (voles? ground squirrels? ground hog? All of the above or some combination thereof?) Two plantings of green beans, half a dozen runner bean plants, numerous cucumbers, most of our melons, every bit of lettuce planted[,] and even a few tomatoes[,] all shared with a well-fed rodent population in our backyard last summer (all without us even catching a glimpse of them for the most part).

Failed Attempts/Good stuff:
The potatoes in a barrel produced about half a dozen potatoes. The plants did not send out roots as I filled the barrel with soil and compost, just kept growing up. I don't know if I did something wrong.

Our tomatoes managed to produce fairly well, despite the blight. The end of the season was dry, so it didn't spread. We ran out of our stash of frozen tomatoes in early March.

Our lipstick strawberries appear to be spreading nicely out front.

We harvested some Jerusalem Artichokes last weekend and roasted them in olive oil. They were quite good.

The peonies I planted last spring never came up. I'm hoping by some miracle they'll show themselves this spring.

The astible I planted out front turned to dust by the end of the season, so I'm curious to see whether it will return.

The Mexican Gherkins were fun and resistant to whatever took hold of the cukes.

We had some major labeling issues, LOL. Things got shuffled about, and thereby, mislabeled, as seedlings. I thought our brandywine tomatoes were Chinese Lanterns. The brandywines grew nicely, as they were off in areas away from the rest of the tomatoes, but also not in the sunniest areas, so they didn't produce until the very, very end of the season. I also thought the Chinese lanterns were peppers. Peppers were mislabeled, as well, and, as a result, I still am not sure what was what. A couple of varieties did very well, and the rest did not. I didn't even get jalepenos in the ground, as they were the smallest of the seedlings, and what I thought were the strongest of the jalepeno seedlings were actually another variety. We will definitely be sure to avoid repeating this error as we start seeds this weekend.

Not much did very well in containers, except some peppers and basil. I presume this is due to soil quality.

Planning on another wheelbarrow of composted cow manure from the farm where we own a cow share (I am entitled to it as part of the cow's production) and composted/fresh rabbit manure from the neighbors' rabbits.

Considering another raised bed with fresh soil, probably digging up another small bed along the fence on the top of our hill, and possibly digging up some beds along the fence on the outside.

Add to our herb garden with a few medicinal and cooking herbs (perennials). Split and move some flowers (day lilies, daisies) from back yard to front. Encourage starts from lavender. Get ahold of a hardy rosemary, as my efforts to overwinter plants indoors have had limited success.

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