|The garden's not a sexy place in February. |
You can see the few oats that the rats and rabbits didn't eat.
The rest is smothered in an emergency soil cover (hay).
2011 was a crap year for gardening. There, I said it. And yes, I know I won another "most beautiful garden" award in spite of it all, but it was an unsatisfying season in many ways. Which leads me to the big question, "What do we do differently this year?" I guess I'll start with the problems.
1. Rabbits and Rats - the garden plot next to mine was abandoned, but not before the gardener planted a full crop of tomatoes, bell peppers, and squash - all perfect rat food. The rats got a bit of my crop, but more frustrating was the fact that they and the rabbits ruined two attempts at planting winter cover (oats and field peas). Just literally ate them all up. Due to a lack of available time, I didn't trap them or poison them like I should have. If they mess with my plot this year, I will have bloody vengeance. This from the guy who allowed a nest of bunnies to live, unharassed, in my lettuce bed last spring.
2. Harvest failure. Yeah, I know this is about the same as "poor crop," but it bears a further look. Some species we planted resulted in no crop whatsoever. Okra. Bergamot. Carrots, Spinach. This was certainly a symptom of the strange summer weather, but more so a symptom of the fact that I spent much less time in the garden in 2011 than I did in 2010. I wasn't there every other day to tweak and adjust this or that. More like once a week. And so there were failures.
So, looking forward into 2012, I'm going to do things a little bit differently. I spent too little time in the garden in 2011, partially because Hank (at age 1.5) wasn't ready to "hang out" there while I worked. That changed for the better around his second birthday, and might get even better this year - but I can't count on it. Also because of Hank and his "typical two year old diet" (pizza, cookies, crackers, milk, lemonade), we aren't cooking or even barbequing much these days. Home Skillet doesn't even like hamburgers (although choking hazard hot dogs are a big hit). But forget vegetables or potato products. As a result, we're holding a lot of produce from 2011 still in the freezer and down in the basement (sweet potatoes). I don't want to waste food, and I don't want to garden for "no good reason." So....what to do? I think here's how I'll lay it out, by season:
|Seed tape is a legit product!|
Lettuce Cover Crops - 2 beds
Carrots (sequenced), Onions, Garlic - 1 bed
Various Lettuce/Spinach - 1 bed (under hoops if needed)
Nothing (hay cover) - 2 beds
|Going to try a Millet cover crop!|
Tomatoes + Borage - 1 bed
Experimental Cover Crops - 1 bed
Peppers/Wildflowers / Sunflowers - 2 beds
Sweet Potatoes / Wildflowers / Sunflowers - 1 bed
Cover Crop / Herbs - 1 bed
|My awesome cover crop, May 2011!|
Oat and Pea Cover Crop - 3 bedsOther winter cover - 1 bed
Lettuce - 1 bed
Sweet Potatoes - 1 bed
All said, it should be an interesting year. I'm going into it with different, if not lower expectations and I hope that I can get back into the mindset that gardening is something fun that Hank and I can go do, not something I have to go do, and then run home to watch Hank.