Garden at its peak, early August 2010
It's hard to believe I have not gotten around to wrapping up the 2010 garden. It happened for a few reasons. 1) It was 80 degrees until December 1. 2) On December 1, it was 20 degrees, and stayed that cold until February 1. 3) It keeps snowing and I can't take an actual picture of the garden. 4) duck hunting and sleeping seemed more fun than blogging about the garden. But as I get ready to plant (under the lights) for 2011, let's quickly review what went right and wrong last year in the garden:
C-B is not something I consider for hunting and fishing, but I do for gardening, for some reason. Basically, I gardened a new plot last year at our local community garden, and it was a lot of work, and I broke even (about $210 for $210 worth of food). I should incur about half the cost ($115) this year and hopefully my food production will be even stronger, hopefully $300 or more.
I planted Rutgers (sandwich type) and Tiny Sweet Million (cherry type) tomatoes. Both grew like crazy, but the Rutgers hardly produced any usable tomatoes (due to drought stress, water-cracking, etc). TSM produced a ton of tiny tomatoes that were really hard to work with (big blossom leaf, thick skin), given the sheer number (dozens) I was pulling off the stems daily for about 2 full months. In 2011 we will be growing Romas only - a tomato we can use (or store) easily for multiple purposes.
I planted Mole', Early Jalapeno, Habanero Chichen Itza, Cayenne, and Mini-Bells. All did fantastic. I tried to use the Mole's for stuffing and it went horribly wrong. This year, we are growing Early Jalapeno, Mini-Bell, and Ancho Gigante (for stuffing).
I planted Beauregard, and ended up with a good harvest, despite not knowing how to grow sweet potatoes. Plan to use the leftover slips for growing in 2011. Also plan to use the planting space more effectively, since all of the potatoes were dug out of the original rooted area, not the vast area of vines and tubers. That was a HUGE waste of precious garden space.
Been a long time since I grew carrots. I stuck with Nantes coreless and they did NOT like the old clay soil under my raised beds. There were a lot of big, funky looking carrots. I have to say, they didn't store very well either - but the fresh ones were delicious. Just like I remember as a kid. This year we are doing Danvers Half-Long and perhaps also Chantenay.
Sugar baby watermelon produced cute 3" wide tiny melons that then died on the vine. Whatever cucumber I tried got hammered by a late frost and never produced. The crookneck squash did fairly well, but took a hit from whiteflies and mildew. This year, will do 2 varieties of cukes and 2 varieties of crookneck squash.
GREENS AND SPRING HERBS
I grew salad bowl leaf lettuce, double choice hybrid spinach, and regatta spinach. Couldn't tell the difference between the spinach varieties. They did fine, and so did the lettuce. In Fall, 2010 I planted salad bowl leaf lettuce, space spinach, and winter density lettuce. Depending on how they fared the winter, may have to replant in April. Planted red onions late, and they did OK. Chives did great. Garlic (chesnok red) was better than my usual, but still not high quality. Some changes coming up in that category for 2011.
My wildflowers in the farm plot did well. Purple Phantom Joe Pye Weed, Pink Supreme Bee Balm, and Horsemint all did wonderfully. Mammoth sunflowers were giant and beautiful, and angered the other gardeners because of the shadow (oops!). Adding some lemon mint, more bee balm, and hyssop to the mix.
I am also putting in a native bee box. Pretty sure that my fellow gardeners will have some comments about it, but I don't care because bees are awesome. I'll keep y'all posted for Community Garden / City Farm Part Deux - 2011!