This year was very hard season to grow for some reason. Not only did I have my health issues to deal with along with my personal life issues we also had about 3-4 (maybe even longer) weeks of weather that was above 100 degrees. I grew more vegetables than I ever did in any other years of my life hoping to can and preserve most of it for my girls, friends and hungry people out there that might need some food. It didn’t work out for a list of reasons that I think that I’m going to outline here. It might be true but to tell you the truth I really have no idea why things didn’t grow correctly.
So I put above that I have been having health/personal issues that are huge and I will write about this soon. It’s well over do and I need a way to vent/heal. And there isn’t any better way than to blog about it. Well let’s get back to the garden.
As you can see from the picture gallery back in 2010 I only had 2 raised beds. With the help of my father and next door neighbor I was able to build more. I was also able to use a different cut of wood that lowered the cost of building them as well. I now have a total of 11 raised beds. 10 that are 8′x4′ and 1 that is 4′x4′. Quick side note the hoop house is still not finished. All I need the the plastic cover but that cost around $300-$400 and I didn’t get to sell any of the produce to raise the funds to buy it yet. I also had 4 blue tubs, 3 five gallon buckets and 4 white bins that someone at church gave me that I use all for planting. In the blue tubs I planted 4 Strawberries, in the 5 gallon buckets red/yellow potatoes (2- Red and 1 Yellow) and in the white bins 4 – Giant Italian Parsley. I also planted in my front yard lots of herbs (Thyme, Mint, Orgeno, Giant Italian Parsley, two types of Basil, Dill, Chives and Rosemary), back behind my kitchen I planted Garlic and Shallots, and 2 different trees (Cheery Tree and an Olive Tree – doing well by the way). In the raised beds I did the following (in no particular order): Striped/Yellow Brandywine/Red Brandywine/Pink Brandywine/San Marzano/Purple/Cherry Tomatoes, Red and Yellow Potatoes, Watermelons, Cantaloupes, Butternut Squash, Pumpkins, 2 types of cucumbers, Peas, Green Beans, Mayflower Beans, Multi-Colored/Jalapeños/Ancho/Chili Peppers, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Eggplants, Leaf/Iceberg/Spring Mix Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, Purple and Orange Carrots, Parsnips, Detroit Red/Golden Beets, Purple Turnips, Rutabagas, Leeks, Green and White Onions, Celery, Morel Mushrooms (coming up this Spring). I think that’s about it and I laid out 8 of the raised beds in one foot squares. Square foot gardening, I learned many lessons this season.
I used Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds for about 85% of what I planted. I have had these seeds since 2010 and they are suppose to last up to 10 years, however, in each package there was only 20-30 seeds of each so I didn’t have a lot to spare. I planned out the whole garden with online tools and started the seeds according to online charts on when to start seeds inside. I then put all of those dates on a new google calendar and started to grow them inside on a rack with sunlight lamps and a heater to get them going. Well not all of them came up so I had to replant and replant over and over about 4 times. Some never came up so I decided to start them outdoors ASAP. It seems that the dates were not right or I followed some bunk info. Some of the plants grew well and to fast so I couldn’t get them outdoors in time because of the frost kept on coming late, late, late this year. Those plants ended up dying and I had to wait to plant them outdoors. Back to the seeds though, the vendor that I got them from I will not use again. It’s funny, the Non-GMO Heirloom seeds that I got out of Wal-Mart/Seed Savers grew well where as the ones that I got online didn’t do worth a crap. The seeds that I ended up getting (my wife bought them for my birthday) was from El Dorado Heirloom Seeds All in One Kit. I have to say that I will not do that again. Next time I will use the Seed Savers seeds they did really well or Wal-Mart if I am really desperate.
The herbs did well except for the Chives that never came up and the Parsley died out quickly. The Dill plants came up only a bit. Just enough for 7 quart jars of Polish Dill Pickles. The two different types Garlic and also the Shallots didn’t do well either. They all ended up just rotting in the ground for some reason. I think that I needed to check the soil back there and need to adjust for next year. The San Marzano Tomatoes did okay. Only about 25-50 turned red. All the other types of Tomatoes either just grew into green ones or like the Yellow Brandywine just flowered and never went beyond that. Oh, the Cherry Tomatoes did real well but they weren’t Heirloom which I didn’t like to well. Peppers didn’t grow beyond the size of a quarter. Spinach/Arugula did Just one cutting. No Cauliflower, Two little Eggplants, one little head of Broccoli, Two Leeks, Three Ruttabgguas, 4 very small Beets, One small Turnip, Seven Purple Carrots, Three Orange Carrots, No Parnips, no Green/White Oinions, no Peas/Green Beans/Mayflower Beans/Pumkins/Canalopes/Watermellons, 8.7 lbs of Cucubers, Five Butternut Squash, 2-3 lbs of Red and Yellow Potatoes, two small Cabbages, no Strawberries/Blueberries/Blackberries/Raspberries/Lettuces/Celery. The Trees that I mentioned up above I have to wait for about 3-4 yrs. before they start to produce.
Don’t plant Tomatoes and Potatoes together in one bed. They’re in the same family and neither did very well. Not sure why you can’t plant the same family of plants together but I guess that’s what you get. Not a good bounty.
Square Foot Gardening – harder than it seems, or for me at least. Things grew over other veggies and killed some of them out. I thought that I had a good layout but the Ruttabgguas grew such large leafs that it shadowed out the onions, carrots, beets and parsnips.
Hot, hot, hot weather. This must have had something to do with the tomatoes no turning red. I kept everything watered on a timer and such but they just never turned red or got beyond the flower in the case of the yellow brandywine tomatoes case. The only time that the plants really grew was when it rained out. So I went out and got a 65 gallon water barrel and a 9 gallon sprayer that goes in the back of my wagon that I tow behind my lawn tractor. It runs off a 12 volt battery so I attached a small solar panel to trickle charge the battery while I was out watering the plants.
Don’t try to grow that much at one time if you haven’t grew it in the past. I wish I would have known a bit more about how big some of the plants were going to get so I could plan out the square foot garden better. I will be going back to just planting all of one type in rows. This works out just fine in over all quantity. Plus then it’s a bit easier to remember how to do crop rotation the next year.
While this isn’t a lesson that I have learned yet, I was thinking about growing some cover crops. Not sure what or how much. I don’t know much about it other than it help put some mineral back into the soil to help out for the next year.
I will be uploading some photos soon of what’s left in the garden so you can see the new three compost bins and raised beds. I ended up getting a 2×12 (I think) 8′ long and that cut down the building time and overall cost of building the beds.
Well that’s all that I can think of for now. Until next time webbies…