5.10.11

already dreaming of next year's garden

200 new strawberries
our gardening year is winding down. we've just had 4-5 days of sunshine and warm temperatures (in the 70s), which breathed a bit of life into the tomatoes and eggplants in the greenhouse, so they're not as done as i thought they were, but they soon will be. we're also hoping that the sunshine will prove to have ripened the sweetcorn so we can actually eat a few ears of that before the season is completely over. but largely, the garden is in its last stages.

waiting for the corn
big successes were strawberries, raspberries, artichokes, kale (until some kind of caterpillars took it), swiss chard (which strangely was right next to the kale and the worms ignored it), borlotti beans, broad beans and runner beans. my herb bed, which is over closer to the house, did very well - apparently cool, rainy weather is perfect parsley and sage weather, as my parsley and sage have been phenomenal.

less successful were the patchy carrots (tho' i'm feeding fresh carrots to the bunnies every morning these days). not a single beet came up, nor a single leaf of spinach (i planted that twice!) only a single kohlrabi grew, our brassica bed resulted in 3 small heads of white cabbage and tho' the red cabbages are leafy and lush, they're not actually forming proper heads. the broccoli was only enough for a few spindles in the odd stir-fry and the cauliflower, which started off beautiful went strange and black - possibly because of the wet, cool weather. my onions are small and the tops died off quite early, tho' some of them are growing new tops no (which i can't explain). the onions themselves are ok when you pull one to use in a salad or to cook with, but they should have been much better. some of this, i don't know what to learn from it other than to say that we'll just try again next year.

kind of a lot of grass grew up in the paths!
in the greenhouse, we had enough tomatoes for salads, but not enough to can any. the aubergine had loads of blooms, but i think the cool temperatures prevented them from really growing into something, tho' we've had enough to be hooked on home grown aubergine as opposed to store-bought.  plus, some of the kinds i bought were actually petite varieties, so the size didn't matter that much.  the cucumbers produced well, after we saved them from the aphids, but with a cucumber-addicted child in the house, there weren't enough for pickles.  it's partially because we had a cool, wet summer and partially because we didn't have the greenhouse up 'til the end of may, so we missed quite a lot of the growing season. next year, it will be better.

black plastic on the left is where next year's garden will be.
we have super sandy soil and while it has great drainage, it seems like the nutrients quickly wash away as well. we conducted a few experiments, putting horse poo only on one squash and not another and learned that horse poo is KEY. we've prepared a large area for next year's garden - loads and loads of horse poo went into freshly-turned soil and then were covered in black plastic to prevent weeds.  luckily, our neighbors have eleven horses and love to be rid of their manure pile.  husband has built an elaborate composting area, so we'll have compost to add to the soil next year as well.

the new compost staging area
but i find i'm already thinking about what to plant next year. i want to try some new things and do better at some of the old ones. we planted 200 new strawberry plants, so i'm going to be busy making marmalade next june. i want more herbs and i want to try some unusual things, like mustard and horseradish. i'm also feeling pretty inspired looking around the chef's garden website. and despite our dark winter, i would like to try to extend the season a bit by planting lettuces and things inside the greenhouse. hmm, maybe i'd better go pull some weeds in there...

2 comments:

kristina - no penny for them said...

your garden looks so impressive!

i think what i learned from one season, is that i'd like to plan ahead to avoid having just one giant peak of crop in june and the rest dwindling along. also, i want to learn more about partner planting, which seems to be key to help growth, prevent bugs and illnesses.

re your sandy soil, i found this and thought it might be interesting. explains the cabbage, but not the carrots. hm?
http://www.growveg.com/growguides/soil-types.aspx

Barb said...

Wow! I didn't realize how big your garden was. I love it. I'm hoping to expand mine just a little next year. But since all I have is a little 4X4 raised bed and a few containers, it shouldn't be too hard to expand. :)