With the onset of overnight temperatures dropping into the 30’s, and four straight days of rain, our garden stated, “Can you hear her…the “fat lady has sung.” Leaves have curled and turned funny shades of green-black, ripening tomatoes have been damaged, and the only growth surviving the cold are the gourds.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this year’s garden, and found it curious that some items which produced well last year, were not happy campers this year…and vice versa. I changed up the location, and made modifications…some drastic, to the soil. The two year comparison has shown me that our red, rocky soil has some really great properties that a bagged mixed gardening soil doesn’t provide. The mental notes that I have taken over the past two years will serve my garden well next year…along with a trailer full of horse manure from the boarding arena down the hill…hahaha!
So in a nutshell, here is a synopsis of how our Garden of 2013 developed. Our tomatoes loved having their roots planted in a container filled with gardening soil, whereas, the onions rebelled, producing a very tall plant without a developed onion. Those planted in the red soil did fairly well…but not as well as last year (their sun exposure was limited by the outrageously huge potato plants.) How did the potatoes do you might ask…well…if you remember, I mixed the red soil with the ashes from a wood burned debris pile….they did GREAT!! In fact, some of the potatoes were HUGE and a couple..kind of gnarled!! Next year I will continue to build the soil up around the stem of the potato plant to get a more controlled growth, and a higher volume yield, rather than weight.
The corn did well, although I didn’t take the time to thin out the stalks…they were too crowded, but what they did produce was delicious!! The corn seems to like our red soil just fine, but would probably LOVE it with a little added manure.
Our watermelon and cantaloupe were planted in containers filled with gardening soil. I won’t do that again as it didn’t seem to matter fruit-wise, container or directly into the red soil. The fruit was small, and a little sweeter than last year, but we were able to keep it on the vine longer since deer were not a threat due to better fencing. The fruit was harder to manage since the vine was up off the ground affecting a lot of the early fruit. Our last watermelon to harvest was a very emotional little fruit…hahaha
I was happy with my bell pepper plants, as this was the first year I was EVER able to grow peppers. It sounds really odd as peppers are supposed to be easy to grow…right?? I have not been successful at all until this year!! They liked container living, and with a little more sun (they were hindered by the shade of the huge tomato plants) they would have been awesome…..well I thought they were pretty awesome anyway!!
The pumpkins did great, the gourds went nuts, and the eggplant produced very nicely. I have to say though, the most fun thing in the garden were our pinto beans (gourds came in a very close second.) If you’ve never grown pinto beans…try it. It’s just plain fun to watch them grow, dry on the vine, then shuck the dried beans from the pods. My daughter and I had so much fun with these beans. In the end, we only came out with about 1 cup of dried beans…but watch out next year!!!
The celery did really nicely just planted in the red soil. I have to admit, I grow this mainly for my Great Dane, Penni…she loves celery, and it is like the biggest treat ever when I pull one up for her.
The cucumbers, crook-neck squash, and surprisingly, zucchini (which has to be the easiest vegetable to grow) did terribly this year. There were all planted close to one another in a container…no more container growing for this group. I only got 4 pickling cucumbers (one of which was a mutant orange color…)
and about the same number of zucchini.
In all, I think it was a really productive growing year. I was able to make some really delicious meals with the produce, and canned some things (details on future post.) I learned ALOT about my soil, commercial soil, the need for manure, location – location – location, and that overwatering for many of these plants is NOT a good thing. This concept is really good news for us because we water from the same water source (our well) that we supply the household with…so any use savings there is a huge plus!!
One other benefit………homegrown seasonal decorative items, courtesy of our very own farm!! Oh…and the chickens love our leftovers!!!