2020 Garden Review

2020 Garden Review

Gardens are often aspirational. We have grand plans in December and January when we order seed and we may even get seeds started on time, only to fall behind quickly come midsummer.

That was the story we encountered this year. Not only a pandemic, but also finishing our house addition in the midst of that whilst figuring out home schooling and all the other things of life at the same time.

Things that did well this year:

We had great production from what we have harvested so far. Many varieties we just didn't get to harvest and they have already sprouted in the fall. They had gotten overrun with Virginia Creeper, so after clearing that out, we found lots of plants already growing. We'll see what's there after the first killing frost (which we are close to having this week). We could have done better if we would have planted them in channels and then hilled them up early in the season.

Great production on all varieties and the first year we're 100% replanting our own seed garlic. 8 types of garlic and two types of shallots. We'll also be putting in a winter production leek we acquired from High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Squash (conditional)
Summer squash did well with three varieties. We had one "summer squash" of which I only had four seeds left that we had purchased from Commonwealth Seed Growers. I didn't check the envelope closely and didn't realize this was a vining variety. It took over half of our garden, but we're saving lots of seed from it, and we'll replant it out in the field next year. I tried planting a ton of other squash out in the new area disturbed by the septic install but it all failed pretty spectacularly, due to both soil conditions (low humic quality) and low water/high heat issues in July while it was still getting going.

Beets & Carrots
First time we've successfully grown beets and carrots. We've always had spotty results the past few years.

Partial success. Never was able to do these from starts before. They grew nice and large plants but never set heads. Might have gone in too late. We'll try again starting in larger pots in the spring.

Salad Greens & Mustard Greens
Lots of good stuff here. Need to work on better succession planting to extend the harvest.

And now for the failures:

  • We didn't get the tomatoes staked up early enough and then they were overtaken by a vining weed with red fluted flowers. Going to have to be more on top of it next year and ensure that stuff never gets started. (Vine pictured above)
  • Cucumbers were destroyed by bugs carrying a bacterial wilt. We tried various organic control methods to little avail. Will plant in the opposite garden space next spring.
  • Didn't harvest potatoes on time, and they were overgrown by Virignia Creeper. One vine went NUTS. So Being more surgical with that removal earlier in the season will be key.
  • Didn't get fall seedlings started, so no late production
  • Didn't get beds prepped after things were harvested, so weeds abound and no fall planting happened (outside of Garlic)
  • Vining squash took over a lot, and knocked down jerusalem artichokes and other plants.
  • Pepper seedlings never got very big, and when planted out most died. Need to transplant those up next year (or start in 4" pots, which is probably what we'll do)
  • Onions sets were destroyed by previously mentioned vining weed.
  • Onion starts failed.
  • Over half the apple grafts failed to take, none of the pear grafts took.  I've been using this specialty tool and apparently it just sucks. Going to go back to good ol’ whip and tongue grafting next year.
  • We need more organic material. Adding compost helped this year, but we need a LOT more spread to help our very clay heavy, humic-poor soil.
  • Tilled a new area for corn but didn't augment it before planting. Corn barely got 1' tall if it sprouted at all. Denuded pasture needs some serious manure help. Will be spreading goat manure from our stall clean out as well as looking at getting some horse manure from our neighboring horse farm to help bring up the organic material in that area there.

That's the fun of it. Always learning. Always growing. And being honest with what we did well and what we didn't do well. And we're about to start again with the 2021 garden by planting all the garlic!

Get out there and plant!