summer successes and failures

now that labor day has passed and summer is technically over, it’s a good time to review the summer’s work and discuss what worked and what didn’t this year.

we made huge strides in the infrastructure of the garden this year. we built the raised beds, set up the beehive, made room for the bunny, and bought some patio furniture and a nice grill.

here’s the full list of vegetables we planted:

  • dragon carrots (purple!)
  • royal burgundy bush beans (also purple!)
  • cherokee trail of tears pole beans (green and sometimes purple pods, black beans)
  • scarlet runner beans
  • early blood beets
  • bushy cucumbers
  • green arrow peas
  • strawberry spinach
  • rainbow chard
  • dark star zucchini
  • yellow crookneck summer squash
  • red russian kale
  • green wave mustard greens
  • slow bolt cilantro
  • ancho gigante pepper seedling
  • orange bell pepper seedling
  • sweet chocolate bell pepper seedling
  • amish paste tomato seedling
  • german pink tomato seedling
  • gold medal tomato seedling

the seeds and seedlings came from seeds of change and seed savers exchange seed catalogues and are either heritage seeds or organic.

definite successes:

purple beansbeans! the purple beans were great this summer. we got several harvests and the purple-ness of them was super fun. the cherokee trail of tears pole beans were also great. they grew and grew and grew – we need a better trellising system next year. they started producing bean pods later than the purple bush beans, but also continue to produce after the purple beans lost their steam, so the two varieties are a good match. we didn’t eat any of the cherokee bean pods themselves, but left them to mature into black beans, which we’re drying for soups in the fall. so, the verdict isn’t completely in, since we haven’t actually tasted them, but i have high hopes.

scarlet runner beans

the scarlet runner beans are a probable repeat for next year. vigorous grower. i mean seriously vigorous. you can see them twining their way up the side of the chimney, taller even then the sunflowers. lovely red flowers. no beans yet, though.

purple dragon carrots

the purple carrots were great too. we had bit of a problem at first with the cock-sucking squirrels digging up the seeds but once they were established, they grew well. we need to thin them next time. the purple color is fun, although it’s a bit disconcerting to bite into them and see that they’re still the regular-carrot orange on the inside. they taste very carrot-y.

tomatoes, especially the amish paste ones. the three tomatoes seedlings grew like weeds, although the german pink and gold medal took their sweet time in fruiting (pun – ha!). the amish paste were great, though – they’re a definite keeper. in fact, they vined so well and were by far the best tomato producer that i’m considering just sticking with them next year.

lettuces, mustard greens, and kale – all three did fantastic. the lettuces lasted much longer than i expected it would; the mustard greens were astounding, and the kale is still growing.

mustard greens, kale and lettuce in a raised bed

definite failures:

the squash and zucchini. the plants grew and put out lots of squash blossoms, but oddly, never really fruited much. i picked one yellow squash before the hurricane, but we never got so much as one zucchini from the four plants we planted. it’s weird – isn’t zucchini supposed to be one of the easiest and most prolific plants to grow, something they give to little kids to teach them about where our food comes from and all that crap? this is the second year in a row that we’ve allowed zucchini space in the garden and it’s failed to produce, so that’s the end of those suckers. it’s fine – i like zucchini okay but there are plenty of other successful crops we can focus on next year.

cucumbers: sigh. see aforementioned yellow ball cucumber conundrum. not giving up on cukes yet, though.

peppers – wow, what a disappointment. all three of the pepper seedlings just fizzled out entirely. they grew taller but were sad and spindly; they produced tiny blossoms but absolutely no fruit. i’m not exactly sure what happened there.

cilantro – so hard to grow, which is such a bummer, because we use it a lot and it would be very convenient to have a backyard crop. we’re giving it one last try this fall.

definite maybes:

the rainbow chard grew reasonably well, although it was quickly shaded by the pole beans and the cucumbers. the leaves were constantly being eaten by something or other, so we didn’t really get any to eat ourselves. definitely trying again, though.

peas – we didn’t plant these early enough in the spring, although we did get one smallish harvest that was tasty. we’ll see how the fall crop goes and try them again earlier next spring.

the strawberry spinach – i had such high hopes before those cock-sucking squirrels. definitely didn’t plant early enough. again, we’ll see how the fall crop goes and try again in the early spring.

beets: we love beets – really really love them. we want to grow beets so badly, but we haven’t really have much success with them so far. we get great beet greens but the beets themselves just don’t bulb up like they’re supposed to. i think we’ve haven’t been planting them early enough and i read something recently about how thinning them properly might be the secret. we’ll see how the fall crop goes and maybe give them one more try.

next year, we’ll be in a much better position to get started planting earlier in the spring. and hey – this year’s growing season isn’t even over yet. i’m looking forward to some bumper fall crops.

farm on!

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3 Responses to summer successes and failures

  1. Erin L says:

    The “cock-sucking”squirrels crack me up. We have “damn” bunnies around here, but then, I have to keep things relatively tame around here because of the kidlets. The bunnies chewed through our fencing and feasted on: ALL of my lettuces, ALL of my beet greens, and ALL of my sugar snap peas. Bastards.

    • muffinista says:

      bastards, indeed! it’s hard to reconcile the fluffy cuteness of bunnies with their garden-destroying power. at least, it is for me, since i’m the proud owner of a cute, fluffy bunny. i did catch a glimpse of how quickly lucius would be able to destroy a garden this weekend when i left him alone for two seconds in his exercise pen and he dug up a fair chunk of grass within the pen. to quote mad-eye moody, even if it is about bunnies and gardens rather than the dark arts: ‘constant vigilance!’

  2. Pingback: planning for spring | chez farm

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