Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vegetable Garden Review 2013

The weather's good and cold and all the plants have withered.

Must mean it's time to do my yearly review of the veggie plot.

Let's start with the bad things and end on a high note, shall we?

The biggest tragedy by far this year was the perennial plants.

My strawberries had to be dug up
Asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries were all a bust.   A complete and total bust.  I did not collect one single asparagus spear this year.  That's because sheep sorrel took over.  This invasive plant has to be removed out of the veggie garden on an almost daily basis.  There's no escaping it as it's everywhere on our property and it spreads like wildfire.  The majority of the annual vegetable beds get dug out at least once or twice a year which helps combat the problem but I can't do this with perennials.  I simply don't have the time to weed them consistently and the result is all these plants have been choked out.  You can see in the above photo, on the left there's more weeds than strawberries.  I had to completely dig out the entire bed and start over.

I am working on a plan though.  I have begun, in a very small way, to eradicate the grass and weeds in the paths of the veggie garden.

I started laying down layers of newspaper and cardboard in the spring.  (I knew those flyers were good for something!)  I followed that with a 3 inch thick layer of sawdust.  Then straw.  The hope is that I end up killing the weeds underneath so they stop sneaking into the veggie beds.  The small sections I was able to complete did well so I hope to continue with this next year.

The next tragedy feels minor in comparison.  I discovered that spinach seed doesn't last very long.  3 years in fact.  I should have known that, but now I won't forget.  I planted my spinach and waited, and waited, and waited. Thank goodness I was paying attention and got myself to a store to buy fresh seed. Unfortunately the weather was getting a bit warm by that point and I didn't have great germination.  So a less than stellar crop of spinach but now I know better.

Another problem with germination was beans.  I was in a hurry and just couldn't wait for the weather to warm up.  So into the ground they went and it rained and rained.  My poor beans rotted.  

Dragon's Tongue on the left and Purple Peacock on the right
I did manage to get a couple plants to come up but it was a pretty lean year for beans.

Thankfully, the tragedies aren't life or death.  Every year has surprises, and some of them are good.  What we lacked in beans we more than made up for in peas.

I had very good germination rates this year, followed by tons of blooms and bees, which resulted in LOADS of peas.  I think I spent most of my summer picking peas.  Every second day starting in June straight through August I picked peas.  August?  yes, August.  The plants had almost stopped producing in July but then we had a spell of rain.  And the vines grew, and bloomed some more, and then there I was in August still picking peas.  Good thing I like peas.  They're an awful lot of work.

Another great surprise was onions.

You know, the fact that I was actually able to grow some.  For 3 years I have been trying to grow onions with no luck.  They rotted, they withered, they refused to grow larger than a marble.  Through a combination of starting seed early, improving my soil, and not burying the plants too deeply I was finally able to produce some proper onions.  Every time I visited the garden this year I did a happy dance around the onions.  I grew those!!

As noted in my previous post I finally managed to grow pumpkins this year too.

My pumpkin patch
Whatever issues I was having last year are gone.  Good thing we have some space.  There's a manure pile under those vines somewhere.  Our weedy meadow was no match for these plants.

Aren't they the most beautiful pumpkins you've every seen?!  BIG big thanks to Brenda @ Gardeningbren for gifting me with the seed for these Long Island Cheese pumpkins.  The whole neighbourhood is enjoying the proceeds of this crop.

That's a wrap for 2013.  This was our fourth year gardening here on the Corner and it was the best yet. For those of you dying to know what happened to the tomatoes.... you'll have to wait.  I grew approximately 25 plants this year so they get their own post.

just another beautiful day in the garden
till then....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Triumphs and Tragedies - Summer/Fall 2013 Edition

I have neglected you and I sincerely apologize.  I have a list of excuses but they are irrelevant.

We need to catch up.  It's been a long summer and fall is half over.

The beautiful colours of fall have arrived
So much has happened since we last spoke.  There have been some triumphs.  We got a new couch!

Only took 4 years living in this house but we have a comfortable, brand new, lovely couch.  It doesn't sag.  You can't feel the springs.  It doesn't sit mere inches from the floor.  We are very happy. (did I mention I've never owned a new couch before!  I really am excited)

The veggie garden has been spitting out enough zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes for a family of 12.  Our large freezer is full.  Completely full.

Anyone want some pumpkins?  seriously.. get in touch
There's tomato soup, fresh frozen tomatoes, pureed pumpkin, pesto, spinach, peas.  All organic, all grown with our own two hands.

Some trees came down ... on purpose.  They've been standing dead for some time and were in unfortunate locations.  Like next to the power pole.  We had put off getting it dealt with.

We left the base standing for the bugs and birds
I feel much better now that's out of the way.  I can quit worrying about our tree taking out the neighbours house and think about all that extra firewood keeping us warm.

It's not all roses though.  There is always the flip side.

We have been scraping, sanding and painting.  (hahaha, and by WE, I mean Jody)

scraped and ready to paint
It has been a load of work.  Sore knees, sore backs, and loads of arguing.  Yup, life here ain't always pretty.  When you have two very stubborn people with very strong vision things can get a little out of hand.  I like colour.  A LOT of colour.  Jody wants subtlety.  There is no middle ground and the weather has turned cold.  Too cold to finish the job.

putting on the primer
So for now the house sits in limbo.  I foresee this argument continuing right through to spring.

and speaking of roses ....

Our rose hedge is looking a bit trampled these days.  Looking at it lengthwise, above, the middle seems to be missing.  One foggy cold morning we found a car in our front yard.  Upside down.  Everyone is intact which is good.  We'll be a bit sparse on blooms though come next June.

and of course I visited the compost again.  We all know by now what that means right?  (think unwanted animals, or click on this link for a refresher).  The compost has become my nemesis this year.  I had taken a Friday off work to try and deal with some fall chores before the really cold weather sets in.  Cleaning up excess compost was on my to do list so away I went with my pitchfork.

I'm starting to get a little neurotic about going near the compost these days
We can now add wasps to the array of animals taking up residence in the compost pile.  That ended the day quite quickly.  Not to mention painfully.  I think I should just walk away from composting this year.  It's obviously just not happening for me right now.