Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Looking back at this years vegetable garden

The weather today is cold and windy, quite a change from yesterdays 17°C.
It's the perfect day to sit by the fire and look at the notes of the years successes and failures.
 I sit and try to decipher the scribbles on the random pieces of paper and enter these notes into my garden journal. Each success (and failure!) is noted for planning the following years garden.
Thinking about it now, it must have been a successful year as the freezer and pantry are full, and we ate fresh, homegrown produce for a good part of the season.
I knew I wanted to learn to can this year, and so my garden was planned accordingly.
The first crop this year was Asparagus.  Anyone that has tasted fresh picked Asparagus knows there is nothing like it!  None of ours made it to the freezer this year so I added more plants.
Then came the rhubarb. This plant's size astounded me this year, and we ate plenty and froze lots too.
We had plenty of Black Currents too and some were frozen and some made jam.

I have been on an endless quest for the 'best' tomaotes to grow so I plant several types of tomatoes- some for slicing, some for canning and some cherry type for eating. And each year I try new varieties.  As long as I have gardened, I have always planted  'Sweet Millions'.
 They are a great cherry tomato, producing many  clusters of very sweet tomatoes and they have never let me down. They will always have a place in my garden. This year I planted 'Grape' tomatoes as well. They were very uniform and tasted good - UNTIL you tasted the 'Sweet Millions' and then the 'Grape' tasted almost sour.
  For slicing, I planted 'Beef Master', 'Parks Whopper', 'Money Maker' and 'Mortgage Lifter'.
The 'Money Maker' I grew from seed, they others I bought plants. The 'Mortgage Lifter' was put in late and I paid dearly for the plant because of the rave reviews I heard.
They were a huge disappointment ... small fruit and very few. The taste wasn't great either. 
Never again will I plant them!
The 'Money Makers' produced clusters of small tomatoes ... nothing to write home about.
My favorite was the 'Beef Master'. Lots of large slicing tomatoes, very juicy and flavorful.
The 'Parks Whopper' was a close second. I would grow them both again.
For canning I planted 'Sicilian Saucer' and 'Roma' . The weather was odd all season, and all the plants were very short, but these 2 varieties did very well. The Roma's produced TONS of uniform fruits that were great for canning. The real surprise for me was the 'Sicilian Saucer'. It produced some HUGE tomatoes and they were excellent for both slicing and canning, and very plentiful.
 I will definitely be growing these again!
On my list to try next year are the 'Tomato Berry' and 'Homestead 'tomatoes.
I'd love to hear from you if you have tried these varieties!
Something new we tried this year was Cucamelons.
They were a tiny, watermelon looking fruit that we thought were more of a novelty.
To my surprise, the kids liked them! The plants climb and so can be easily trained to grow up a trellis, so they will have a spot in next years garden.
The 'Sugar Snap' peas had a great year as always and will be planted again.
The bush beans did well too. I will always have a few varieties, already decided on 'Blue Lake' and 'Royal Burgundy' for next season.
 Carrots and onions had a good year. I'm not even sure what varieties I planted, but have already decided that there will be red onions as well as yellow. 
I battled the dreaded Cucumber beetles and squash bugs again this year, and so there were few zucchini's and cucumbers.
A garden is only as good as the soil, so I tried to get ahead of my spring chores by topdressing the garden with compost this fall. I FINALLY had a good amount of compost and I needed the space for fall cleanup. I hope to dig the rest this spring.
 Good looking stuff, huh?
The gardens are all cleaned out now, with the exception of the kale that I have been picking.
Planning a garden is ALMOST as much fun as actually growing it.
 Not long ago, a friend gave me this bag of seeds with a large variety of veggies to try.
Inside was almost everything a person needs to plant a good veggie garden. I don't think she realized how happy a bag of seeds could make someone - she looked SO surprised when I started jumping for joy! The only seeds I need to buy next year are peas, beets, and kale!
Planning next years garden just became SO EASY!