Sunday, September 28, 2008

Garden Ups and Downs: a Season in Review

For the second weekend in a row, my gardening efforts have been thwarted. I really need to do some preparations for winter, but it's been too rainy. So today I find myself ruminating on my first year of gardening which, as expected, had its ups and downs:

The Ups:
  • Strawberries: This is where it all started, as last year I had really let the strawberries go and vowed that 2008 would be different. This year I stayed on top of the weeds, and at their peak I was harvesting 2-3 quarts a day. Much of this went into the freezer, and I've really enjoyed using those berries to make jam and ice cream, not to mention the occasional strawberry shortcake.
  • Potatoes: all things considered, these did well. I think we had some beginner's luck here, and I'm not sure we mastered the art of hilling but we did make an effort. The spuds turned out a bit smaller than expected, and I don't really know why, but we did manage to put a nice quantity away in our "new" root cellar.
  • Green Beans: I was thrilled with the yield and the duration of my little harvest. We enjoyed them fresh, and froze about 5 lbs to use throughout the winter.
  • Zucchini: Like the green beans, these were plentiful and we planted just about the right number of plants.
  • Tomatoes: the Brandywines were delicious fresh, so much better than store-bought. The Marianas had excellent yield and I enjoyed trying my hand at canning.

The Downs:

  • Tomatoes: Yes, there was a downside, too. We planted too many Brandywines, which don't preserve well. So I had to sacrifice an awful lot of them. And our trellises didn't hold them well enough either.
  • Raspberries: I don't know what happened, but I only saw about 3 berries this year.
  • Peas: They were delicious, but we didn't plant enough of these and the harvest was used up far too quickly.
  • Lettuce & Spinach: I planted these too late in the season. The spinach didn't germinate at all, and the lettuce "bolted" early so only saw a few measly leaves.
  • Carrots, Parsnips, and Leeks: we never got around to planting these. Oops.

There's Always Next Year ...

I've learned so much from gardening that I can channel into the next season. It's probably always that way, isn't it? Now I can spend the off season thinking about what I'll do differently next year. I have a few ideas already:

  • Plant lettuce earlier, and try a different variety. The Amish markets near here all carry buttercrunch, which was deliciously sweet. Maybe I'll try it, too.
  • Look into potato varieties and see if there are others more suited to our climate. Consider trying something new, but probably only two varieties, not three as we did this year.
  • Plant root vegetables!
  • Try onions.
  • Try a different variety of plum tomato, just to compare flavors.
  • Improve trellises and other supports.
  • Be more diligent with compost.
  • Keep on having fun!

1 comment:

Terri said...

Great lessons learned and so much success for a first time gardener! I like your goals too. I always say 'next year will be better.' Usually, it's at least different!