What Worked This Year (and What Didn’t)

Another gardening season has passed and it is time to add up our wins and losses.

Dee’s Take:

It was a good season for me this year at The Peach House. We had a lot of rain, but for the garden is was a perfect amount so that I never had to water! Awesome! However, we went on vacation in August and I feel as if I missed out on a lot of the harvest because of it. Oh well, it was totally worth it.

Let’s start out with what went well:

My end of year squash haul
  • Artichokes. Hoooo wheee, did I love growing these! May wasn’t as warm as I would ideally like, so it took awhile for these to really grow (and they probably didn’t get as big as they could have as a result) but for my first time, I am definitely calling them a win! I got a dozen or so out of the two plants (one produced much more than the other) and enjoyed eating them. Growing them next year FOR SURE.
  • Broccoli – one of my plants did much better than the other, however the one plant did amazing, so it more than made up for its brother.
  • Celery – we tried celery this year (pink even!!) and it did awesome! I will say, I didn’t utilize it as much as I should have, since it was next to a mass producing broccoli and zucchini, but I am already sold on growing it again.
  • Squash – we did spaghetti and acorn, along with pumpkins and all did well! The acorn did not produce as much as I would have liked, but I am excited to grow them all again.
  • Tomatillos – wow, these were monster producers for me! Two plants contributed to about 30% of my food!
  • Tomatoes – this is the first year I started tomatoes from seed. Heck, we started pretty much everything from seed! Thanks to the tutelage of my darling sister it was a success. Tomatoes are generally easy for me to grow (and one of the main things I DO grow), so it wasn’t surprising, but the fact that we started them and they were successful was extra fun for me.
Sweet, luscious tomato

And now for the losers….

  • Beans – we grew several varities this year, and the only one that really did ok was red beans I had a few white beans (like literally 5 pods) and my green beans, which I have NEVER had a problem with before, did nothing. I did try growing them with my potatoes and clearly it didn’t work.
  • Brussels Sprouts – I never have good luck with these suckers, and I am not sure why. Maybe I give up on them too early? Not sure. But nuthin’ out of my plants this year….one that I thought was a Brussels Sprouts turned out to be a kohlrabi! I am not sure how that even happened (I don’t even think we had kohlrabi seeds this year but sister does the seeds so don’t quote me on that).
  • Cucamelons/Sour Gherkins – I am so sad about these. I got none, not even sure if they even germinated since they were mixed in with cucumbers. I thought some had sprouted, but either they never bore fruit or they never even popped out of the ground. I do want to try them again next year, just because I really want to try them!!! So persevering.
  • Melons – We started midget watermelons, and some other honeydew/cantalope varieties. I had 2 small watermelons that never got bigger than a tennis ball. I think the cooler/rainy weather never let them get going. Melons are tough in a zone 4!

I haven’t harvested my potatoes yet, so they aren’t on either list since I don’t know. Last year was a fairly dismal harvest, so I am hoping for better this year and waiting a bit longer to see if that helps….

Lin’s Take

My 2019 garden taught me SO much! Of course some of the things I learned was from successes and others were from failures. Gardening in zone 2 can really push the limits of what is possible. I often wonder about my logic in trying to gain self sufficient skills in such a difficult ecosystem….but I do love a challenge!

It is always the most fun to reminisce about the good outcomes so lets start there…

Lovely yummies
Nasturtiums did so well
  • Spinach- I have a special place in my heart for veggies that thrive in cold conditions and spinach sure hates the heat! This year I wanted to grow enough spinach to can and that takes up a lot of space. I did an early and dense planting of spinach in the same area I had planned to grow my tomatoes. The spinach loved the early spring and they were fully grown before the tomatoes had to go in. The added bonus to all this is I learned spinach is an amazing crop cover and I greatly reduced the amount of bare soil I had in the early spring.
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce- This variety is SO tasty and is very successful being started inside and transferred outside. I harvested beautiful big heads that never went bitter. Next year I will continue starting Buttercrunch inside all the way until August as they are just the perfect thing to fill in little open spaces in the garden.
  • Flowers- This year I started Nasturtium, Yarrow, Pansy, Bee Balm and Echinacea all from seed. They all thrived into nice healthy plants and I noticed an increase in pollinators visiting my garden. Next year I will dedicate even more space to edible and medicinal flowers.
  • Pumpkins- I had all but given up on growing pumpkins in Zone 2, but when I read that Olinka pumpkins are hull-less I had to give them a try! These guys blew my mind. I used a wall-o-water to give them a nice cozy transition into the garden and it made a world of difference.
  • Beans- I really wanted to increase the amount of dry beans my garden provides and we had a 10 fold increase over last year. I used both pole beans and bush beans and direct sowed all of them. Now I have pretty jars of white, black and pinto beans ready for the winter.
  • Asparagus- Ok so technically I planted them last year, but it wasn’t until this year that I knew they were a success. I didn’t get to taste any of the numerous spears it produced as it is important to leave the 2nd year growth alone so it can put energy into the roots. Next year we will hopefully be dining on a lovely spring risotto featuring one of the best veggies out there. Asparagus is a perennial, one of the earliest veggies ready to harvest and flavor is so wonderful and unique!
  • Radishes- They seem so easy to grow but I always seem to end up with woody radishes. This year they were perfection! Juicy, spicy and perfectly formed.

Now lets explore the dark side….failures.

  • Lettuce- wait that was also on the success list… some things can be both right? I really liked the varieties of lettuce I grew but I continue a long line of years where I fail in my succession planting. Come July I’m so sick of sowing seeds I always stop and then August we have no lettuce. 2020 will be the year I overcome this barrier and have lettuce from April until December…or beyond!
  • Tomatoes- I really need a greenhouse, or to give up on starting my own from seed. We have boxes and boxes of unripe fruit that will slowly ripen inside. Unfortunately they never measure up to those vine ripened ones. Sun ripened tomatoes are just so spectacular it will drive me to try and try again, no matter how long it takes!
  • Tomatillos-I had a plant loaded with fruit but they probably needed two more months to ripen. Next year I’ll try using a wall-o-water and see if we can get them past the finish line.
  • Strawberries- This was a hard one as my hopes were repeatedly raised and crushed with every perfect white berry that formed. I would watch it ripen and feel it was almost ready to pick only to find some animal always beat me to it! I got to eat like 3 berries total so painful!
  • Melons- I need to face the fact that melons need heat and I just cannot provide them with that. Maybe when I have have my greenhouse I can have hope again.
  • Asian Greens-This year I tried growing Tatsoi, Bok Chow, Mizruna for the first time. They all germinated well and then the flea beetle hit. This was my first experience with this pest and it decimated all my Asian greens. I have learned they are a foe I prefer to avoid. I will be using fabric covering next spring for my entire brassicas family.
  • Artichokes- They started off so strong and were the biggest seedling I started inside! But they never really seemed to get over being transplanted into the garden. I got a bit jealous seeing all of those photos my sister shared of her bounty.
Look how ready it is….for a critter, apparently

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