Evaluating our gardening

| 8/8/2012 11:06:42 AM

A goal of plenty of tomato sauce  

By August, we can usually see what the results of our gardening efforts will be. Harvest of some crops may be a month or more away while the early spring vegetables are a memory. I like to look at the results and see how the next year may be different. One of my goals is to put up enough of some vegetables to pretty much eliminate purchasing them during the winter. These include corn, beans, tomatoes and sometimes peas and spinach. I also like to freeze peppers already stuffed for quick winter meals.

Of course there are other goals. I like salad fixings in the spring and pumpkins to share and make a few pies with. The results and goals are never quite met. A big factor is the weather and that is the one that we can do the least about. I have had huge spring rains right after planting. Summer droughts can be addressed with watering but unseasonable temperatures are a factor that is harder to deal with. Other factors can be pests of all types. This year the rabbits were really a challenge and I lost most of my spring crops. Insects and other small pest can be a challenge as well.

Of course sometimes we don’t give gardens the attention that they need. We are called away on important business just when our garden needs us. Other times we fail to recognize and address problems and realize too late the damage.

In the fall, I like to look at what I harvest compared to my goals. Of course those factors mentioned above, weather, pests, time away and so on have to be factored in. I start thinking about next year’s goals. I can’t control the weather, but sometimes I find new ways of dealing with other challenges. This year, I used automatic watering for the first time and that had mixed results.  I had leaks and a new timer to learn how to operate. Sometimes the garden was too muddy and other times too dry.  I plan to improve that next year.Of course we all can resolve to spend more time weeding and attending to garden chores. Late in the season I found a strategy for dealing with rabbits.

A big lesson learned, for me, is how much and what to plant. I have in some years planted so much lettuce that I gave it away by the bag-full. This year I planted a more modest amount but the rabbits ate most of it.

I no longer try to plant later lettuce and radishes. By the time the first batch is done, it is generally too hot to get good results. Likewise, I don’t plant tomatoe and other vegetable varieties that take over 100 days. I have had a lot of green tomatoes to ripen inside or leave outside to freeze. The growing season is just too short here.

Besides adjusting how much to plant, my goals for next year are: start earlier on rabbit deterrent plans, get the watering system more finely tuned to give better results without wasting water, and I am building a cold frame with plans of starting some plants a little earlier for the short growing season. I am sure that over the long winter, I will think of more improvements, perhaps discover improved varieties to plant and resolve anew to spend more time weeding.

  Small but sure ripening tomatoes 

S.M.R. Saia
8/10/2012 2:08:28 PM

It must be that time of year because I'm feeling contemplative about my garden too, and spent yesterday evening reading a seed catalogue thinking about next year's garden! My nemesis this year was a family of groundhogs, and I had quite the worst tomato year I've ever had. Plenty of daily eating and weekly sauce making, but not enough to put up. Like you, I like to try to have enough to see me through the winter, but never quite seem to get there. This year wasn't even close. But I did learn a LOT that will do me well for next year! I hope you have a great fall planting.

8/9/2012 2:51:00 PM

Minnie, ha, I had to laugh at your summary of the year's garden. I always start out with big plans. In the spring the garden is always so new, fresh, and vibrant. As the year wears on, it starts to show a little wear and tear and soon my interest wanes a bit which makes the wear and tear accelerate a little faster. By the end of August the neat clean garden that started in the spring is not so neat and clean. By September it's a lost cause and all interest has turned to other directions. This year has been such a challenge because of the hot dry weather. I'm still not at the preserving stage yet but I would like to get there. My garden is about to expand again which would make it over a half acre. I'm not used to managing that big of a garden so it might take a couple years .... ok maybe more .... to get it managed. The first step is always weed control. Have a great day in garden management.

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