All gardeners whether intentional or not will evaluate the garden year and determine if it was a success or failure. Most times it's a bit of both. For me there's no logic behind what does well one year and not the next. Nature has a way of determining what's going to happen in a garden. Yes, the gardener can help things along but ultimately weather, critters, disease, bugs, and what ever else is dead set on destroying a garden will decide a good year from a bad one. Most of the articles and books that I've read say to plan on food storage for at least two years because what is a bumper crop one year may be a total failure the next. I really don't store up a lot of food. I grow it to savor when it's in season and to give away to those that have lost the memory of what real food should taste like. Most of what I grow is for family, friends, and neighbors. Unfortunately, they have been so programmed that produce must be perfect in every way, it's sometimes difficult to give it away. It's sad to think that consumers have come to put looks and long lasting storage above taste and nutrition. So let's get to it.
Sadly I said goodbye to the Poor Man's Living Patio for this year. It was a spectacular year for all the plants on the patio. After this picture was taken, all the plants were removed and sent out in the yard waste bags. It's always a sad day when the end of the plant season comes. The Spring is always a better season for me. Also after this picture was taken a new addition to the patio was donated to me from my cousin. I've always wanted cast iron patio furniture. My cousin was getting rid of a small round table and two chairs made from heavy cast iron and wooden features. It was just what I've been wanting. Nice!!
Well how about the great potato experiment with multiple layers. How well did they do?
I'd say that I harvested about 25 pounds of potatoes from a four by eight foot bed. It looked to me like two layers is about all that's worth trying to plant. The third layer just didn't have enough time to produce but still small new potatoes are tasty too. The different layers could definitely be identified by the size of the potatoes.
The experimental tomatoes in five gallon buckets did ok but I learned some things.
The tomatoes in the buckets with self watering did ok but next year there will be some improvements. The soil needs to be even closer to potting mix with more Perlite than what I used to help with the wicking action. The shorter buckets would be better than the taller ones so the water has less distance to travel to reach the plant. Since the plants have limited space, fertilizing weekly would probably give a better production. Bucket growing is a whole different science than in the ground growing.
What about the cucumbers. They are always a good give away vegetable.
The cucumbers were awesome this year. The weather was cooler than normal with lots of rain. It must have been perfect for growing cucumbers. My issue with them is they were at Terra Nova Gardens and not in my back yard. Terra Nova Gardens is about 20 minutes away from where I live. This year my neighbor and family responsibilities increased and only allowed me to get to Terra Nova Gardens every two or three days. Cucumbers being what they are will grow from as small as my little finger to the size of a squash in that time. As a result, yes, the cucumbers were a great success but I didn't get many to eat. I expect the compost pile will be growing a lot of cucumber plants next year.
The sweet corn is truly a test of wills between the gardener and the rascals of the neighborhood. The raccoons seem to know just when the corn is ready.
Yeah, you can't really see it too well but the corn is toast. Every single ear has been stripped off the stalk. The kernels weren't even sweet corn mature yet. It was a total loss in just one night. Next year I'm building a sweet corn fortress.
This is the beginning of the sweet corn fortress. You can see that there is a six foot wooden fence around the garden. There will be three rock lined raised beds with four feet wide and twenty eight feet long growing space. Total width of the bed is five feet. The area is totally covered with old carpet face down. The rocks are then spaced properly to make the beds. The growing area is removed with a carpet knife after the rocks are in position. The bed on the right is filled with fall grass/leaf mixture to compost down over the Winter. Some would say, isn't that old carpet leaching chemicals into the soil? All I know is that I've had some carpet in this garden suppressing the weeds for four years and it still shows no sign of deterioration. So if it is it's very minimal. Carpet has been around for years and I've not heard anything about the chemicals in carpet being bad for people. The pathways around the beds will be covered with loads of hardwood mulch. I don't ever say that I'm growing veggies organically. I just don't apply and chemicals to kill weeds, bugs, or diseases but I'm hardly organic. The fortress will have the beds surrounded by four feet of chicken wire with no gates. Surrounding the chicken wire will be four electrical wires powered by a portable battery powered electric fence. Outside of the fence will be two live traps baited with marshmallows. The question becomes what if I do trap a raccoon, then what? My first thought is just shoot them and bury them in the woods but then I remember that I did invade their territory. Maybe I'll just tag them and turn them loose and give them a couple chances to rethink invading my corn fortress. I'm taking this invasion to the next level.
Garden as though you will live forever. William Kent