Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 Garden Review

I spent a good part of this afternoon, out in the garden getting my containers ready for winter. Nearly everything has been harvested, and it's time to review what worked and didn't work this year.

For starters, my original layout was a failure. Because our deck is less than 4' from the sidewalk, we have had problems with people reaching through the deck-rails and stealing our produce. Not to mention the four 8' tall bamboo poles that were swiped from around my melon-plants. So halfway through the season, we ended up moving all our tomatoes up against the house. That was TOUGH when the tomatoes had already grown to over 6' high. So for next year, we have a completely different layout.

Our tomatoes? From 6 Bumble Bee cherry, and 6 Vorlon beefsteak plants, we had a bumper-crop of cherry tomatoes and a fair crop of beefsteaks. So for next year, we'll be growing eight Bumble Bee cherry plants and skipping the beefsteaks altogether. These were the best tomatoes we have EVER had! So rich, so flavorful, and so split-resistant! Cucumbers were slow to start producing, but once they did we harvested 2-6 golf-ball sized yummy mini cucumbers every single day for over 6 weeks. We'll be planting those again next year as well! And all of our herbs grew wonderfully... the one change we will make for next year is to ONLY grow a single lemonbalm plant. Growing two of those was TOO much!

The pole beans were the same as always; out of 6 plants, we enjoyed four side-dishes of beans. Not great, but nothing to complain about either. For next year, we're going to try Chinese long-beans - mostly for the novelty, but also because next year we will be growing ZUCCHINI! Originally we had thought we would be trading the beans for zucchini-space, but when I searched companion plants for the zucchini I found that beans were perfect because of their nitrogen production. 

My peppers were a bust. I have NO clue why, but I grew about 18 pepper plants from seed. None of my sweet peppers even germinated, and I sent about a dozen of my hot pepper plants to my parents' house. The six I kept here did almost nothing; I yielded 8 undersized flavorless peppers. The ones I sent to my parents produced a bumper-crop, just like I saw at my place last year. I'm calling the peppers a fluke, and trying again last year. The carrots - yuck. The Parisienne carrots we loved last year had sold out by the time we ordered our seeds, and the half-length carrots we chose to plant instead were puny and bitter. Next year it's Parisiennes, or NO carrots for us! 

Our complete failures were the melons, and pumpkins. Every year, we grow pumpkin plants that put out plenty of beautiful blossoms, but no actual pumpkins. We're giving up on pumpkins - that pot is needed for zucchini next year. The melons, since this was our first year trying them, we will give them another try next year. But our plants never got higher than about 8" tall, and the only yield we saw was a single marble-sized melon that was good for nothing but laughter.  

All in all, I'd say it was a good year! We had some amazing crops, a few not-so-spectacular crops, and a few flops... but it was fun to grow, easy to care for, and a pleasure to sit on the deck & sniffle the wonderful marigolds & alyssum - that are STILL perfuming the deck, even this late in the season! I can't wait to see how NEXT year's garden will turn out! 

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